This Week in Logistics News (April 13-17, 2015)

It was a relatively quiet week for supply chain and logistics news, so let’s go straight to it.

The biggest fight coming up is not the $300 million bout between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao on May 2 (although that’s going to be a big one), but the fight between Democrats and Republicans (and some in-party fighting too) to give President Obama so-called “fast-track” authority on trade pacts, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement currently being negotiated.

As reported in the New York Times yesterday, “Key congressional leaders agreed Thursday on legislation to give President Obama special authority to finish negotiating one of the world’s largest trade accords, starting a rare battle that aligns the president with Republicans against a broad coalition of Democrats.”

In the blue corner opposing the bill are most Democrats, along with trade unions, environmentalists, and Latino political organizations. In the red corner supporting the bill are most Republicans and the business community, especially agriculture, technology, and pharmaceutical companies (see press release by UPS in support of the bill). As reported in the Wall Street Journal:

The bill’s release sets the stage for quick action in Congress, where its fate hinges not just on the White House’s ability to win over enough Democrats but on the ability of Republican leaders to stem defections on the right. The vote is expected to be especially close in the House, where as many as 50 or more Republicans could vote against fast track.

Unlike the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, you don’t have to pay to watch this match, it will stream live for free on C-SPAN.

For related commentary on this topic, watch my February 2014 conversation with Pete Mento, the former Director Global Customs and Trade Policy at C.H. Robinson, where we discussed “The Latest on Trans-Pacific Partnership and US-EU Trade Agreements” (one of our most watched episodes last year). You can also read some highlights from the episode in my post, “Free Trade Agreements: Like Planning a Wedding Reception.”

Speaking of C.H. Robinson (a Talking Logistics sponsor), the company announced that it partnered with the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics (MIT CTL) to “develop research aimed at finding ways to better quantify carbon emissions at the Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) shipment level,” with the results of the research summarized in a white paper. Here are some excerpts from the press release:

The current methods of calculating carbon emissions can be highly inaccurate, and determining emissions for LTL is more challenging than for other types of transportation. The research examined the issue using actual shipment- and route-level data from TMC, a division of C.H. Robinson.

The well-known Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard (GHG Protocol) and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Smartway Program are currently used to calculate emissions, but neither can account for the unique characteristics of individual LTL shipments.

C.H. Robinson commissioned the research as a MIT CTL master’s thesis project. The project was able to create models that provide a starting point for analyzing existing methodologies and for developing more accurate approaches for calculating carbon emissions at the LTL shipment level. This information may be helpful in shaping future emissions mandates and regulations.

This is another example of how businesses — whether it’s 3PLs, manufacturers, or retailers — can collaborate with universities on supply chain research to help drive innovation in the field.

And with that, I’m out of time. Have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “Crystals” by Of Monsters and Men