Weekly Column by Sen. Alexander: “Stopping an EPA Regulation That Will Destroy 340,000 Jobs”

Posted on November 18, 2011

Last week I urged my Senate colleagues not to overturn a good rule that prevents other states’ dirty air from blowing into Tennessee.  Overturning the rule would cost us jobs and hurt our health. I asked my Senate colleagues: Why are we picking on a good rule when the Environmental Protection Agency is a happy hunting ground of unreasonable regulations? 

Perhaps the most unreasonable regulation is the boiler MACT rule. This is a regulation that will force hundreds of industrial companies around America to install the Maximum Available Control Technology (MACT) on their boilers. 

Let me try to give you a sense of this rule’s impact on our economy: It is estimated that it will result in a loss of 340,000 jobs nationwide. In Tennessee alone, the cost to businesses to comply with this rule will be $530 million. 

I have talked to the leaders of large industrial companies that will be affected. I’ve talked to small business owners who are facing a million dollar cost to try to implement this unworkable rule on their boilers. The small business owners have told me they will have to close their plants instead. They cannot possibly afford to comply with this rule in this short of a time period. 

It’s a good idea to clean the air of such pollutants as mercury. But what’s a bad idea is that the EPA gives an unrealistic timeline—just three years—for companies to install the technology to reduce these pollutants. This is not like a lot of the other clean air laws and rules that have been around for years; this is an unexpected new rule on thousands of industrial boilers that are essential to our manufacturing jobs in America.  

As a result, businesses all over America are going to be forced to spend billions of dollars trying to comply with this rule instead of spending that money on creating jobs.

A number of Republican and Democratic senators have introduced legislation to give the EPA enough time to fix the rule, give the EPA additional authority to use the correct methodology to write a rule that makes some sense and does not appear to have been delivered from Mars or Venus or some other planet, and give our industries enough time – five years instead of just three – to comply with the rule.

This boiler MACT rule is a prime example of a bad regulation costing jobs. Fortunately, there is strong bipartisan agreement on legislation to fix this bad rule, and the House of Representatives, in an overwhelming bipartisan vote, agreed with us by passing similar legislation. 

Congress can take steps right now to help the millions of Americans suffering to find good private-sector jobs by reforming our tax and regulatory systems to free up businesses to hire, and starting on entitlement reform to lower our job-killing debt. Making sure the EPA doesn’t implement this bad boiler MACT regulation would be one step in the right direction.

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