The International Liquid Terminals Association (ILTA) is the only trade association to advocate exclusively for the tanks and terminals industry. According to ILTA President Kathryn Clay, the association understands the unique challenges confronting terminal owners and operators and serves as a committed advocate and key resource for its members.

“Terminals provide essential logistics services that both spur trade within the U.S. and connect our economy with overseas markets,” Clay said. “ILTA represents over 80 companies that operate liquid terminals in all 50 states and in 37 countries. Our members’ facilities are critical links in the transportation of liquid commodities that are central to the U.S. economy, such as crude oil, petroleum products, chemicals, fertilizers and liquid foods.”

Clay grew up in a rural community outside Kalamazoo, Michigan. She earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics from Kalamazoo College and then attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where she received a master’s degree in electrical engineering and a Ph.D. in applied physics.

“While I was earning my master’s degree, I was part of a research lab designing high-intensity lasers,” Clay explained. “My former advisor on that work received the Nobel Prize in physics last year. It’s amazing to think that the innovations our group was developing back then have gone on to revolutionize fields from cancer treatments to the precision engineering of products including iPhones.”

After graduate school, Clay received a fellowship to work as a science advisor on Capitol Hill. She loved working on issues related to technology and energy, and Clay stayed on Capitol Hill for several years, ultimately working for the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Since leaving the Hill, Clay’s worked for industries closely related to the energy sector. She came to ILTA from the American Gas Association (AGA), where she served as vice president of policy from 2013 to 2018. Her responsibilities at AGA included serving as executive director of the Drive Natural Gas Initiative, a joint project of natural gas utilities and gas producers. Clay also served concurrently as the executive director of the American Gas Foundation

“During my previous position with the American Gas Association, I learned how much the nation’s energy landscape is changing due to the shale gas revolution,” Clay said. “The whole pattern of transporting energy products is changing, domestically and globally. Terminals are vital links in the supply chains of liquid fuels, and we are seeing tremendous expansion of terminal operations in parts of the country like West Texas and the Gulf Coast to accommodate these new developments. Of course, terminals are essential to the storage and logistics of many liquid commodities, but my first exposure to their importance was through the energy sector.”

Developing a strategic plan

According to Clay, the ILTA board of directors recently developed a strategic plan with a vision to grow the association’s presence as a stronger advocate for the tanks and terminal industry with policymakers in Washington and in the communities close to member company operations.

“I’m excited to be building a team so we can extend our reach and have an impact on issues that affect terminal companies,” Clay stated. “We’ve had several new additions to our staff, and they are all highly talented, committed professionals. I’m really proud to be working with them.”

At the end of 2018, ILTA completed a survey of advocacy priorities to determine the issues that matter most to its membership. Based on the results, ILTA will work to achieve positive outcomes on Capitol Hill such as restoring the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to its original purpose: investing in the reliability and safety of the U.S.’s network of ports and waterways.

“We’re working with federal agencies to ensure responsible, appropriate security regulations are in place at terminal facilities,” Clay said. “We’re also working to increase our communications presence: on our website, on social media and in our outreach to the media, lawmakers and regulators.”

Advocating for new rules, regulations

U.S. House and Senate leaders came together earlier this year to approve a 15-month extension to the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program, which is a decision ILTA hailed as a win.

“ILTA applauded Congress for extending — on the day it was set to expire — this important security program, which regulates critical chemical facilities to guard against terrorist attacks,” Clay said. “This 15-month extension gives us the opportunity to make necessary changes to the program, while continuing to ensure the security of facilities that store the highest-risk chemicals.

“For the past decade, ILTA has been the leading voice encouraging the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to correct the treatment of gasoline and other fuel blends under the CFATS program. We look forward to working with Congress and DHS to ensure fuel blends are treated on par with similar materials under CFATS implementation.”

ILTA also joined the Hazardous Materials Interested Parties, a coalition of hazardous materials (HAZMAT) producers, packagers, shippers, storage operators and distributors, in submitting comments to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) on a competency-based training proposal. The comments responded to a proposed rule in which PHMSA asked whether it should consider conforming U.S. HAZMAT training requirements to competency-based training standards being considered by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for hazardous cargo shippers and handlers.

“The coalition comments opposed future consideration of the ICAO standards in the U.S. because of their lack of flexibility and cost-effectiveness,” Clay said. “ILTA prefers the current PHMSA regulations.”

Celebrating 40 years

ILTA is now gearing up for its 40th annual conference and trade show in 2020, a very significant milestone for the association. Every year, ILTA’s conference and trade show in Houston serves as the premier annual event for the terminal industry. More than 4,500 industry professionals from around the globe attend each year, and nearly 350 companies exhibit.

“The terminal industry of today is more innovative and more dynamic than ever,” Clay said. “Delivering an annual conference and trade show that can keep pace with that each year is probably our greatest and most important challenge. Attendees at our annual conference tell us it has never been more important to keep their professional knowledge and skills up-to-date. This past year, we expanded our conference planning process to include crowdsourcing of ideas from our members. Thanks to the over 100 individual contributors, this year’s program features topics you haven’t previously seen at any tank or terminal conference.

“We’re looking forward to introducing this year’s attendees to these new topics, new speakers and new ways of engaging with their colleagues to maximize their learning. We’ll bring back some old friends, too, keeping in mind the mainstay topics that remain vital for terminal industry professionals everywhere.”

According to Clay, ILTA’s annual conference offers unparalleled networking opportunities, one of the many benefits of belonging to the association. ILTA also holds the Terminal Operating Practices Symposium, which gives terminal operators the opportunity to share best practices and lessons learned from incidents and near-misses with their peers to help improve the industry’s already strong safety record.

“We also provide members strong representation in Washington before Congress and federal agencies, access to industry benchmarking in safety and employee compensation, online tools to help them successfully manage their terminals, an information-filled monthly newsletter, and tailored training and educational programs,” Clay concluded.

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