WSJ: On Boiler MACT Regulations, Fake Restraint from the EPA

By March 4, 2011Energy, Regulations

The Wall Street Journal editorializes today, “Boiler Room Politics: Fake restraint from the EPA as it issues a damaging new rule.” [Subscription]

Amid an Environmental Protection Agency regulatory spree unprecedented in U.S. history, nothing cleared the benches last year like the so-called boiler rule. Some 62 Senators, 177 House Members and 21 Governors publicly objected, business staged a collective revolt, and the EPA itself was forced to retreat and junk the original rule. No matter how ruinous a regulation, this almost never happens.

The problem is that the new rule, which came out last week and is meant to reduce air pollutants like mercury from industrial boilers, is nearly as bad. The Atlantic is smaller than the Pacific, but they’re both pretty big oceans. The EPA’s new faux-moderation is meant to be political cover for regulations that will be a drag on jobs and economic growth for years in manufacturing, energy, chemicals, steel, hospitals, universities, hotels and so many others.

Aric Newhouse of the National Association of Manufacturers issued a statement after the EPA released the rule that made the same points.

The new Boiler MACT rule will have an immediate, negative impact on manufacturers’ bottom lines at a time when they are trying to rebound economically and create jobs. This is a harsh, inflexible rule that will cost jobs, hurt global competiveness and may discourage projects that could otherwise lead to environmental improvements.

This is the latest example of the EPA’s aggressive, overreaching agenda. We urge the EPA to undertake a common-sense approach that encourages economic growth, job creation and thoughtful regulatory policy.

If the EPA won’t do it (and it’s pretty clear the agency won’t), then it’s up to Congress. As the Journal concludes about the Boiler MACT rule:

This is a political exercise meant to create the illusion of abiding by President Obama’s executive order on stupid regulations, and it certainly isn’t a preview of a softer method as the EPA issues a parcel of new air and carbon rules meant to cripple coal-fired power plants in the coming months. The only way to check this reckless agency is Congressional intervention.

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