“We should have no more regulation than the health, safety, and security of the American people require… But what we can’t do – what I won’t do – is let this economic crisis be used as an excuse to wipe out the basic protections that Americans have counted on for decades… We shouldn’t be in a race to the bottom, where we try to offer the cheapest labor and the worst pollution standards.”
—President Obama, address to a joint session of Congress, September 8, 2011
During a press conference in late June, President Obama lamented that “the business community is always complaining about regulations.” Trouble is – there is much to complain about. Americans are simultaneously frustrated and perplexed by the mountains of red tape being generated in Washington. The EPA is one of the government’s biggest repeat offenders. As The Heritage Foundation recently noted, the agency itself seems to be confused by many of its newly promulgated regulations.
A recent poll conducted by the independent, non-profit group Public Notice reveals that a clear majority of Americans favor less environmental regulations on business. Among the key findings:
Americans seem to implicitly understand what the President does not: excessive environmental regulation destroys jobs and hinders economic growth. They also understand that compliance costs are ultimately passed to the consumer in the form of higher prices.
House Republicans are committed to unwinding the EPA’s unwarranted regulatory excess. Next week, House Republicans will bring two pieces of legislation to the floor that, once passed, will provide regulatory relief to tens of thousands of American workers, small businesses, and consumers.
What are House Republicans doing?
EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011 (H.R. 2250)
The EPA’s new Boiler MACT rules are exceedingly complex and unduly onerous. Together, these four rules span 276 pages and impose control and monitoring standards for 11 subcategories of boilers and process heaters that vary by design and fuel type. These rules require boiler owners to conduct emissions testing and comply with complex control standards. Hospitals, factories, universities, farms, and thousands of major American employers will be directly impacted by these rules.
The EPA Regulatory Relief Act, sponsored by Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), would alleviate the excessive regulatory burden placed on employers by the EPA’s Boiler MACT rules by replacing them with sensible, achievable rules that do not destroy jobs.
Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act of 2011 (H.R. 2681)
The cement industry is the foundation of our nation’s infrastructure. Cement manufacturers are already among the most highly regulated enterprises in America, and the latest round of EPA regulation threatens to cripple the industry. Ragland, Alabama, for example, recently saw the suspension of a $350 million cement production facility, putting 1,500 construction jobs on hold and additional permanent and high-paying plant operation jobs in limbo.
The EPA estimates the cost of its new Cement MACT regulations will be $2.2 billion, and concedes that the rule may lead to the “idling” or closure of 12 plants. The agency further estimates that national average prices for Portland cement may increase 5.4 percent and domestic production may fall by 12 percent. A report by the Portland Cement Association concludes that EPA regulations could result in the direct loss of 3,000 to 4,000 jobs in the cement industry by 2015, translating to $200 million to $260 million in lost wages annually. In addition to the job losses directly caused by plant closures, rising cement prices pose a threat to the nation’s beleaguered construction industry, which could reportedly lose between 12,000 and 19,000 jobs due to higher construction costs. Further, as domestic production decreases, Americans will become more dependent on supplies imported from other countries.
The Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act, sponsored by Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK), would provide a legislative stay of these overly burdensome rules and allow for the implementation of effective regulation that protects communities both environmentally and economically.
The Bottom Line
The thousands of American workers, consumers, and small business owners saddled with the heavy burden of complying with the EPA’s latest round of stunningly complex and unjustifiably vague regulations have a right to demand relief. Instead of dismissing the growing chorus of concern as baseless whining by greedy businesspeople, the President should follow the lead of House Republicans, who have embarked on a steady mission to repeal these flawed regulations and replace them with sensible alternatives that protect both the environment and the American economy.