Government and Industry Briefing at SEMICON West 2009


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Government and Industry Briefing at SEMICON West 2009

Overview

At SEMICON West 2009 (July 15), SEMI EHS held a seminar on federal EHS directions, which included seven key speakers from both the government and the semiconductor industry. The seminar focused on the role and future influence of the government in the semiconductor industry for environmental protection, including both setting guidelines and restrictions for semiconductor materials and parts manufacturers. The agenda and presentation materials are located here.

Speakers

The keynote speakers were Scott Bartos, program manager of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Jeffrey Wong, deputy director of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), Dorothea Blouin, analyst from the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), Joseph Goffman, senior counsel for Global Warming and Air Issues in the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), Tim Mohin, principal consultant of Environmental & Occupational Risk Management (EORM), Tom Diamond, director of the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), and Aaron Zude, senior director of environmental health and safety at SEMI.

Summary

Scott Bartos of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave a presentation on U.S. Direction and Policies on Global Climate Change. The EPA, though not fully sure of policy as of now, is committed to tackling climate change in the near future. Bartos emphasized the importance of reducing fluorinated greenhouse gases and how the semiconductor industry can make cost-effective reductions today, leading the way for other industries to follow. The EPA also plans to improve the tracking and reporting of inventory, explore new ways and expand existing techniques to reduce emissions, and encourage sector wide strategies and information sharing.

Jeffrey Wong of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) gave a presentation on Nanomaterials: New Challenges, New Strategies. The DTSC has been collecting data regarding the impacts of the countless materials used in industry. They focus on nanomaterials such as carbon nanotubes because the unknown properties of many nanomaterials may be hazardous to both human and environmental health. DTSC plans to expand their database of materials, form partnerships with industry and other agencies and organizations, and possibly increase their authority to improve efficiency and enforcement of regulations.

Dorothea Blouin of the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) gave a presentation on International Regulations: An Update. Blouin had a couple important notes about the future adoption of ROHS in both the EU and China. Her predictions for a finalized EU ROHS included various timeframes. Because of the way the EU parliament works, it is hard to know exactly when decision will be made. For China ROHS, the public can join the process and comment on proposals. There are two public comment opportunities: industry can propose products for inclusion and join the database of experts to evaluate proposals.

Joseph Goffman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) joined us via telephone from Washington, DC. Goffman spoke freely about cap-and-trade legislation and opposition to it. Currently, the EPW has bills going through both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The cap-and-trade programs should create a brand new market where credits can be sold, bought, and banked at will. He also noted that the legislation going through usually favors consumers and will focus on energy intensive and heavy industry especially.

Tim Mohin of Environmental & Occupational Risk Management (EORM) gave a presentation on EHS&S Directions: What’s a company to do? Mohin talked about the incentives for sustainable programs and some of the roles government has in encouraging and enforcing sustainability. He explained that sustainability is a growing industry and that one of the incentives of the U.S. economic stimulus bill is $80 billion USD, aimed at more environmentally friendly projects and industry.

Tom Diamond of Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) provided an overview of past highlights in U.S. environmentalism and actions taken by the U.S. government regarding climate change. Diamond focused on how the greenhouse gasses rules impact the semiconductor industry. He noted that the industry has taken many actions to reduce emissions and that many of the EPA predictions are not to scale. Many factors are needed to be considered for further improvement of industry emissions including the cost and the total impact of the industry. He also touched on the possibility of more specific emissions monitoring and how that could possibly reduce the competitiveness of manufacturers.

Aaron Zude of SEMI gave an update on the implications that the new American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, which was passed recently on June 26. The bill, HR 2454, includes the cap-and-trade program that covers 85% of the U.S. economy, affecting sources of more then 250,000 tons of greenhouse gases a year. He pointed out that some fluorinated gases are critical to manufacturing and that the cap on such materials will increase prices and decrease available supply, and that 70-99% of the fluorinated greenhouse gases that are used are never emitted into the atmosphere in the electronics industry. He also stated that the current approach is too intensively focused on upstream regulation, which could result in a significant loss of U.S. manufacturing operations without any noticeable benefit to the environment.

August 11, 2009