3 Big Issues for Liquid Terminals
Liquid terminals occupy an understated corner of the American economy, there is no doubt.
But think about it; our members offer an example of the way things should work when the country is operating at its best. Tank terminals are essential hubs for supply chains, getting products where they are supposed to be when they’re supposed to be there.
As the International Liquid Terminals Association (ILTA) approaches its 50-year anniversary, three issues are drawing our attention. They are the energy transition, infrastructure and fire safety.
The inevitable energy transition
ILTA members have long been planning for the energy transition. We are partners in fuel storage, and we see a day when the products we handle will increasingly consist of hydrogen, biofuels, ammonia and other products.
As we contemplate a world fueled by low-carbon energy, the terminal industry will be part of the solution. Clean hydrogen is a primary way to decarbonize many segments of our economy.
In 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which included $9.5 billion for clean hydrogen. Last year’s Inflation Reduction Act provides a hydrogen production tax credit that will boost the U.S. market.
California has announced its Hydrogen Market Development Strategy, which includes an “infrastructure strike team” to help develop hydrogen storage and distribution that supports production and demand growth.
Several companies are also taking steps to develop hydrogen. Chevron and Cummins recently announced an MOU to “leverage complementary positioning in hydrogen, natural gas and other lower carbon fuel value chains.”
Initiatives like this will create new markets, and liquid terminals will play a key role in connecting the producer to the end user.
Aging infrastructure is disrupting the flow of goods throughout the country. Clogged ports, crumbling roads and bridges and gridlocked rail systems have all created logistics problems, and the need for infrastructure investment is clear. The American Society of Civil Engineers released a report card in 2021 that gave America’s overall infrastructure a grade of C-minus. That’s why passage of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law was so important.
Terminal facilities are in more than 700 American communities, generating good-paying jobs and supporting local governments through property taxes.
The infrastructure law includes money to improve the rural transport infrastructure. This could give companies new options for sourcing, storing and transporting goods.
Recently, a class of chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, has drawn the attention of news outlets and policymakers.
In an editorial in Roll Call, Sen. Shelly Moore Caputo (R-WV) argued that Congress should deliver solutions that reduce risks posed by PFAS in a scientific, bipartisan and responsible manner. Politico has written about the tricky business of assigning liability for PFAS contamination. Meanwhile, there are now conflicting PFAS policies at the state level.
ILTA recognizes the science showing that new technologies must supplant PFAS. Our members support a uniform nationwide transition away from PFAS-based firefighting foams. ILTA is working with the Natural Resources Defense Council and the International Association of Firefighters on legislation to provide a safe and achievable path away from PFAS-based firefighting foams nationwide.
Additionally, we support legislation that would properly address liability for PFAS pollution. We believe that the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund), as currently written, is the wrong approach to regulating PFAS chemicals that were used in legacy fire-fighting foams.
By classifying PFAS as a “hazardous substance” under CERCLA, terminal operators would be made legally and financially responsible for simply adhering to best safety practices and OSHA regulations for fire suppression.
BIC Magazine, Kathryn Clay, December 12, 2023