A well-known consumer advocate for the industrial sector on issues related to energy and the environment, Paul N. Cicio has been President of the Industrial Energy Consumers of America since its founding seven years ago. IECA is a non-profit association created to promote the interests of manufacturing companies for which the availability, use and cost of energy play a significant role in their ability to compete in domestic and world markets. Membership industries ranges from finishing to fertilizer.
Cicio regularly testifies before the House and Senate, has intervened at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and currently sits on several government committees as an energy consumer advocate. A regular at the NASF Washington Forum, Cicio recently told us about his advice for the President-elect, what finishers should be most concerned about, and what makes his blood boil.
Tell us about some of the projects you’re currently involved in.
P.C: We’re Providing input to the Obama transition team on sound energy and environmental policy. IECA is focused on advocating for provisions in the stimulus package that will provide low cost loans, grants and energy efficiency financial incentives for the manufacturing sector. The Congress needs to pay more attention to the manufacturing sector as a major solution to our economic crisis. The manufacturing sector, given the right kind of incentives, can react quicker than any other sector of the economy to invest and create jobs and exports, something the other alternatives like public works projects cannot do.
What part of your job are you most passionate about?
P.C: I am passionate about what I do because I know that if we are successful in lobbying congress for increased supply of cost-effective energy or improved energy efficiency, all consumers win, not just the manufacturing sector.
What issues do you think the finishing industry should be watching most closely right now?
P.C: Congress will work on another energy bill early next year. It’s really important that the finishing industry provide input early and often. We know of several initiatives that will raise the cost of natural gas and electricity to consumers. One example is the T. Boone Pickens plan to mandate and give federal subsidies for use of natural gas to displace gasoline in the transportation sector. Doing so will drive up the cost of natural gas and hurt the competitiveness of manufacturing industries.
Are there issues that make you angry or frustrated?
P.C: Climate change policy will have the greatest long-term impact on U.S. manufacturing competitiveness. While we have testified before Congress three times on this, and have made progress in enhancing their understanding of problems of cap and trade, they continue to push for it. A carbon cap will simply send good manufacturing jobs offshore.
Where do you think trends are heading in terms of energy regulation?
P.C: There is a trend to increase regulation of energy, especially with the Democratically controlled congress. In our view, we need better regulation, not more regulation. As consumers, we feel markets work better when there is strong government oversight to ensure the markets are working efficiently and fairly and in the interests of the public.
Is there anything our readers can do to get involved?
P.C: Yes, it is very important to communicate with your legislators frequently. You’re welcome to join IECA in our Fly-ins to congress.