Energy & Environment

Obama’s EPA a Growing Menace to Economy

As President Obama continues to search in vain for policies to create jobs, the prospects for a robust economic recovery remain bleak.  One reason for this is the regulatory uncertainty created by the Obama Administration.  Perhaps the agency contributing most to the uncertainty is Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

As I explain in a new report, titled “EPA’s Anti-Industrial Policy: Threatening Jobs and America’s Manufacturing Base,” EPA’s regulations are unrivaled in the harm they pose to America’s economy.  The report focuses on four of EPA’s most egregiously anti-business proposals and how they will cost jobs and undermine America’s global competitiveness with China.

Consider EPA’s policy to regulate industrial boilers.  It is so awful that 41 senators, including myself and 18 Democrats, sent a letter on September 27 to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, expressing opposition to it.  “As our nation struggles to recover from the current recession,” the senators wrote, “we are deeply concerned that the pending Clean Air Act boiler MACT regulations could impose onerous burdens on U.S. manufacturers, leading to the loss of potentially thousands of high ]paying jobs this sector provides.”

Employers all across the country have registered their concerns.  One such is Thilmany Papers, which employs 850 people in two specialty paper mills in Wisconsin.  “Our business, like many others,” the company wrote recently, “encounters many challenges.  However, none threaten the continued existence of our business like the proposed boiler [rule].” 

The respected economic consultancy, IHS-Global Insight, concluded that EPA’s boiler regulations threaten nearly 800,000 jobs.  The United Steel Workers Union (USW), which represents hundreds of thousands of workers, “in the most heavily-impacted industries, among them pulp & paper, steel, and rubber,” has taken note.  The USW believes the proposal “will be sufficient to imperil the operating status of many industrial plants.” The USW stated further that, “Tens of thousands of these jobs will be imperiled…many more tens of thousands of jobs in the supply chains and in the communities where these plants are located also will be at risk.”

Pending Ozone Decision

Communities also face new regulatory burdens from EPA’s pending ozone decision.  After the Bush EPA finalized the 2008 ozone standard, environmental pressure groups complained it wasn’t stringent enough.  The incoming Obama EPA agreed, and is now considering lowering ozone to, in some areas, levels that are at or above what occurs naturally in the ambient air.

The economic impacts are sure to be disastrous.  Nearly 600 counties could be in “non-attainment,” which entails, among other things, draconian new regulations to lower emissions, loss of industry and economic development, including plant closures and increased fuel and energy costs. 

Even Unions Upset

Unions for Jobs and the Environment (UJAE), an organization of 12 national and international labor unions, including the United Mine Workers, the Teamsters and the Sheet Metal Workers, thinks the ozone revision “would lead to significant job losses across the country during a period of high unemployment, due to the significant increase in the number of counties classified as nonattainment.” 

Unions are concerned about this proposal because it would hurt most in the industrial heartland.  For example, in the Cincinnati-Dayton region, assuming an ozone standard of 70 ppb, production would decline by $14.8 billion, killing 91,700 jobs in 2030.  If EPA chooses 65 ppb, the costs in 2030 would nearly double, and 165,000 workers would lose their jobs.

But job loss is not something that troubles EPA.  For instance, if you work at a cement plant, beware:  EPA’s new cement kiln regulation could shut down 18 plants, threatening 1,800 direct jobs and 9,000 indirect jobs.  According to an analysis of EPA’s rule by King’s College (London) Professor Ragnar Lofstedt, EPA could send 28 million tons of U.S. cement production offshore, mainly to China. 

EPA adds insult to injury with its endangerment finding for greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.  This finding, which was made after the Senate refused to pass Obama’s cap-and-trade bill, will lead to onerous new regulations potentially covering over 6 million sources in the economy. 

Global-Warming Nonsense

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, EPA could be forced to regulate 260,000 office buildings; 150,000 warehouses; 92,000 health care facilities; 71,000 hotels and motels; 51,000 food service facilities; 37,000 churches and other places of worship, and 17,000 farms.  On top of this, EPA’s global-warming regulations will catch aluminum production, ammonia production, cement, iron, steel, lime, petrochemical, phosphoric acid production, and pulp and paper manufacturing. 

So what’s the net effect of these regulations on global warming?  EPA estimates that global mean temperature would be reduced by 0.006 to 0.0015 °C by 2100.”  That’s an amount so small it can’t be measured by a ground-based thermometer.

Of course reducing global warming is not the point.  As my report shows, EPA’s proposals have negligible environmental benefits.  Instead they are the vanguard of Obama anti-industrial policy agenda, which is pushing America’s manufacturing base overseas.  If we want to create jobs and compete economically with China, India, and other developing economies, this agenda must be stopped.

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