U.S. Environmental Protection Agency policies under the Obama administration could cost the United States more than 800,000 jobs, Republicans say in a new report that examines several recent EPA actions.
“The evidence is clear,” according to EPA’s Anti-Industrial Policy: Threatening Jobs and America's Manufacturing Base, a report written by the minority staff of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The report was issued Sept. 28 by Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-OK), the committee's ranking minority member.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) is the ranking minority member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which issued the report.
“These rules threaten the economic viability of America's manufacturing base and hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs,” the report says. “Moreover, these rules will bring little, if any, public health or environmental benefits.”
The report is the latest salvo in a growing public debate over the EPA's policies under President Obama. Critics say the agency has been overly aggressive in pursuing regulations that harm American businesses—especially small business—while doing little to protect the environment.
EPA sharply disputes the accusation, saying the agency has been less active under Obama than it was under the last term of President George W. Bush.
During the second Bush term, EPA administrators proposed or made an average of 130 major regulatory changes annually, an EPA spokesman said Friday (Oct. 1). By comparison, the Obama administration proposed or made slightly more than 80 changes in its first year and is on track to make even fewer in 2010.
The Inhofe report examines the employment and economic impact of the EPA’s greenhouse gas proposals; new standards for commercial and industrial boilers; revised National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone; and new standards for Portland Cement plants.
On May 13, EPA issued a final rule establishing what it called “a common-sense approach to addressing greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources under the Clean Air Act (CAA) permitting programs.”
The so-called “Tailoring Rule” is aimed at "the nation's largest GHG emitters—power plants, refineries, and cement production facilities,” EPA says. Emissions from small farms, restaurants, and “all but the very largest commercial facilities” are not initially affected.
The Inhofe report says that EPA is grossly underestimating the number and type of institutions potentially affected by the rule and that the Tailoring Rule violates the plain language of the CAA.
On June 4, EPA proposed “National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Major Sources: Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional Boilers and Process Heaters,” also known as “Boiler MACT” (maximum achievable control technology).
"[D]epending on the policy EPA chooses, the Boiler MACT could put up to 798,250 jobs at risk,” says the GOP report, quoting IHS Global Insight, the economic forecasting firm.
EPA proposed in January to strengthen the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone, a primary component of smog. “The proposed revisions are based on scientific evidence about ozone and its effects on people and sensitive trees and plants,” EPA says.
According to EPA, the rule would cost $19 billion to $25 billion per year in 2020 to reduce ozone to 0.070 ppm and $52 billion to $90 billion to achieve a level of 0.060 ppm. However, the measures would also save $13 billion to $37 billion per year at the 0.070 ppm level, or $35 billion to $100 billion for the lower level, EPA says.
The GOP report notes that the EPA revised the ozone standard in 2008 (under Bush), reducing the acceptable level from 84 ppm to 75 ppm.
Further reductions have no basis in scientific research; will severely restrict job creation and business expansion in hundreds of counties nationwide; and will create more than 500 “non-attainment” areas that will drive companies in those communities out of business, the report says.
Portland Cement Plants
On Aug.6, EPA issued amendments to two rules that will significantly reduce emissions of mercury and other air toxics and particle-forming pollutants from new and existing Portland cement kilns across the United States. The rules also will limit emissions of ozone- and particle-forming pollutants from new kilns.
The measure would affect 158 of the 181 kilns expected to be in operation in 2013, EPA says. “The combined benefits of the two rules significantly outweigh costs, yielding an estimated $7 to $19 in public health benefits for every dollar in costs,” according to the agency.
The Inhofe report says the measure could force 18 cement plants to shut down and send 28 million tons of cement production overseas, taking 15,000 jobs in the process.
An EPA spokesman dismissed the GOP report, saying that Inhofe’s “doomsday predictions” were “the same sort we have heard every time EPA has taken any step to implement the laws that Congress wrote to protect Americans from pollution in the air we breathe and the water we drink.”
“Experience has consistently proved those doomsday predictions wrong for the past 40 years.”