The EPA, Tightening Control Over the Manufacturing Economy

By March 26, 2010Energy, Global Warming, Regulations

As the expensive new health care law dominates the public’s attention, EPA continues its relentless drive to impose tighter control over the manufacturing economy. As industry emerges from the most severe recession since the 1930s –- a recession in which the manufacturing sector lost more than 2.2 million high-wage American jobs –- EPA regulators are pursuing an agenda that will dramatically increase energy prices for all U.S. consumers while limiting the public’s energy choices.

During the next 10 months, EPA is expected to impose first-time controls on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from industrial sources through the “tailoring rule.” (EPA docket) Regulators also want to ratchet down an air-quality standard for ozone that will impose costly compliance rules on most major U.S. metropolitan areas. This year EPA will also consider reclassifying coal by-products as “hazardous waste,” thereby raising electricity prices. The agency also may seek to impose unachievable emission standards on industrial boilers, which manufacturers use in their plants to expedite production of a variety of goods.

The cumulative cost of these rules is staggering. With respect to the tailoring rule, EPA did not even bother to undertake a detailed economic analysis and concedes that much of the technology to implement GHG controls is nonexistent. Costs of the ozone rule, by EPA’s conservative estimates, could reach $90 billion, most of which will be shouldered by industry through either direct regulation or the passing on of higher electricity costs. The forest and paper products sector estimates that tighter controls on industrial boilers could reach $6.7 billion in capital expenditures, making many of their U.S. operations unprofitable and subject to closure.

Now is not the time to begin piling on additional costs on a sector that traditionally serves as the engine of job-growth and innovation. According to EPA’s own data, we are already making progress in improving air quality for all Americans through current programs, progress that undermines the rationale for moving forward with expansive and unachievable environmental controls.

Federal regulators are moving so aggressively that even state regulators are concerned. During the comment period for the so-called tailoring rule, more than 29 state EPA regulators joined manufacturers and other commenters in urging EPA to slow down its regulatory process. To read an NAM-organized submission from representatives of manufacturing companies, please click here.

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