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Environmental and Security Groups Align

SECURITY INDUSTRY groups have joined forces with environmental organizations to change a law that they say does not make sense for security manufacturers. The law in question is the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). The problem is a provision mandating that external electronic power supplies meet certain energy efficiency standards in active, off, and standby modes.

Many security appliances, such as surveillance cameras, access control systems, and intrusion detection systems, are never inactive. Thus, “if forced to comply with these requirements, manufacturers would have to invest in research and development as well as testing for something that does not apply to them,” says Mark Visbal, director of research at the Security Industry Association (SIA), which contends that this requirement could drive up system costs.

In an effort to remedy the problem, SIA has drawn up language that could be offered as an amendment to a pending energy and climate change bill. The amendment language was submitted to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee along with a letter of support signed by representatives from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP), the Alliance to Save Energy, the Electronic Security Association (ESA), and the SIA.

SIA’s director of government relations, Don Erickson, says he is “cautiously optimistic” that the amendment language will be “adopted by the Senate and retained in a future House-Senate conference report on the energy/cap-and-trade legislation.” The legislation had not yet been passed by press time.

Although the ASAP was a supporter of the original EISA legislation, the security appliance implication “was a situation that was not foreseen by the standards that we were involved in supporting back in 2007,” says Andrew deLaski, the group’s executive director.

DeLaski is not concerned that his group’s support of this amendment may open the floodgates for other companies who think EISA is a hardship. “It wasn’t a question of it hurting the company,” he says. “It was that the product was being asked to meet a standard for a mode it didn’t operate in. So it was a substantive concern. It wasn’t an ‘it’s hurting me’ kind of concern. It was a narrow technical issue, in my view.”

Additionally, Visbal says that SIA has taken precautions to ensure that the proposed exemption cannot be abused by nonsecurity industries. “This was a critical part in gaining the environmental groups’ support,” says Visbal. It entailed agreement on a definition of “security or life-safety alarm or surveillance system” by both the environmental groups and the security industry representatives.

Additionally, the groups agreed to include in the amendment language that the secretary of energy would have the authority to remove certain appliances from the exemption if the agency finds that “a substantial number of the external power supplies are being marketed to or installed in applications other than security or life-safety alarm or surveillance systems,” says Visbal.

He adds that the security industry is doing its part to become more environmentally conscious. For example, power supplies are complying with EISA’s active mode requirements, and a large percentage of SIA member companies are compliant with the European Union’s Restriction on the Use of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) in electrical and electronic equipment. RoHS compliance is becoming more common among manufacturers in the United States.

The role of the security industry in lawmaking has been evolving over the past 15 years, says Jack Lichtenstein, ASIS International’s vice president of government affairs and public policy. Security companies used to stay out of politics, says Lichtenstein, but realized “those who do not have a seat at the table are ignored, no matter how important they believe their issues to be.” Now, he says, security groups such as ASIS lobby Congress more often, and are normally consulted on laws that affect them. However, he adds that legislators do not consult security groups enough as we move away from 9-11.

ESA president Mike Miller says that in addition to having a lobbyist, his group encourages members to work with their state lawmakers. The organization also holds an event called “Day on Capitol Hill” in which up to 60 people have traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with their federal legislators.

Lichtenstein encourages more security professionals to lobby their Congress members, because “there is nothing that has a more powerful impact on those lawmakers than personal, direct contact with a constituent.”