Halloween may still be several weeks off as I write this column, but some of us have already had the beejeebers scared out of us. Here's my story.
It was Tuesday, September 28. I was minding my own business at an industry conference in San Antonio, when I received an e-mail from back home. "What's this all about?" it asked (meaning, "How does this impact our readers?"). The message referred to a "headline" that evidently had been scrolling silently across television screens around the country as people ate lunch that day—pertaining to a report that projected new EPA boiler standards would lead to the loss of 800,000 U.S. jobs. I, too, would probably have choked on my soup, had I seen this claim in HD.
Maybe I was sitting in the wrong room at the conference that afternoon, listening to speakers discuss proven solutions to some of industry's toughest challenges: I just wasn't hearing any buzz related to the doomsday, boiler-standards scenario—despite the fact that bloggers of all stripes had apparently been chewing up the report and spitting it out for hours. Later, as I waited in the hotel lobby for my airport shuttle, I still wasn't sensing any fear among the many folks gathered together in little groups, doing a lot of business, it seemed to me.
Back in my office the next day, I contacted a couple of trusted, go-to industry experts about their perspectives on the issue. They sounded almost as perplexed as I was, other than to speculate that since climate-change legislation is off the table until after the 2012 elections, EPA standards have become Washington's football du jour.
Who among us doesn't like clean air, if not for ourselves, at least for our children and their children? That said, boiler-using industries are NOT going to shut down across the board, NOR will they be shut down across the board by EPA—cutting 800,000 U.S. jobs in the process. Plenty of solutions are available to keep this from happening. Of course, that's just my take on the matter. Maybe you have another. (I know some of you won't hesitate to let me know. All I ask is that you do it nicely. "Check your guns and knives at the door" before you write to me, please.)
Speaking of solutions for the future, wherever I go, I'm seeing lots of them. I'm also seeing real confidence in the economy, as when I visited Siemens in Atlanta last month, and when I spent two days at the information-packed Schneider Electric/Square D 2010 Energy & Power Distribution Conference (in Atlanta). As for the San Antonio event I attended? Solutions and confi dence were all over the place. It was the 2010 Emerson Global Users Exchange, where I was just one amid throngs of eager, energized participants (almost 2400) from across industry, including operations that use boilers. Paraphrasing the conference theme, most were there to build on their knowledge "to innovate, diversify, inspire and lead." If that's not a winning approach to tomorrow, what is?
The future needn't frighten us: Siemens, Schneider, Emerson and others already have the solutions you need to stay up and running safely, cleanly and efficiently—and are constantly working on new ones. You'll find some of them in this issue, and many more in the months to come. Check them out. MT