The liquid terminal industry has never been more vital than it is today. I am proud every day to work for our community of terminal industry professionals, ensuring that our industry’s voice is heard by policymakers. I am also committed to ILTA’s role as a convener, bringing together industry peers from across our nearly 80 terminal member companies to network, share challenges, and identify solutions.
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In 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic meant that we had to find new ways to bring people together. We were forced to make the unfortunate decision to cancel our landmark event held in Houston each year – the ILTA Annual Operating Conference and Trade Show. For similar reasons, in 2021 we have rescheduled our event for 4 – 6 October. Next year, we will return to our traditional schedule and hold the show in June. These are therefore exceptionally busy times for ILTA this summer – registration is open for October 2021 and we are in full gear to deliver a well-attended, high quality event. At the same time, we are launching our 2022 ‘Call for Proposals’ to help us identify new session topics that are as insightful, timely, and important as our conference audience has come to expect from us. We invite everyone to consider submitting their session ideas; for more information, please visit www.ilta.org.
Adjusting to the realities of the pandemic also meant that ILTA needed to make a strong pivot to virtual to continue to serve our membership. Between April 2020 and April 2021, our Environment, Health, Safety and Security Committee and its subcommittees met four times in an all-virtual format. Our attendance and engagement at these meetings were record-shattering. We have learned a great deal from our year of virtual experiences and, going forward, we are committed to a hybrid approach for our meetings, which will allow members the option of virtual or in-person attendance. While there is nothing like the experience of in-person interaction for networking and learning, we have seen that virtual attendance can also be a meaningful way to deliver value to our membership.
One thing that did not slow down during the pandemic was the need for advocacy on behalf of the terminal industry in Washington D.C. The pace of our advocacy work has only accelerated since President Biden entered the White House earlier this year. The Biden administration has prioritised investing in the US’ infrastructure and has called out critical energy infrastructure as a particular focus. ILTA is leveraging the infrastructure discussion in Washington to explain the key role that liquid terminals play in providing storage, blending, and logistics to facility fuel supply lines.
The cyberattack on the Colonial pipeline heightened awareness of our energy supply lines even further. ILTA reacted quickly to the shutdown, convening members to identify points of concerns to relay to federal agencies. We quickly learned that targeted, temporary waivers from the Coast Guard and EPA could allow terminals to take actions that could increase the resilience of the system overall. In the after-action reports that will follow, we look forward to working with the agencies to ensure that these waivers are considered – and granted – quickly in the event of a similar future challenge. We are also creating a new Cybersecurity Working Group, through the leadership of our Security Subcommittee, to identify other ways we can support our membership in strengthening their cybersecurity.
Every year brings new challenges and opportunities to learn. We are all coming out of an exceptional year of challenges and learning. I am looking forward to applying these lessons to our work ahead, so that ILTA can support its members as they build a stronger, more resilient terminal industry.