Republicans continue perpetuating their own stereotype as tree-hating, global-warming deniers with the recent attitude of “hell no” towards almost any proposed EPA regulation.
Did Mother Nature do something to tick off Republicans or what?
According to a recent article and memo to Congress by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, it’s not just about the Planet, but the economy as well. “[There is] a long chain of overreaching EPA regulations that burden U.S. industries with high compliance costs and threaten U.S. economic recovery. In the aggregate, these rules constitute one of the biggest threats to U.S. job creation and economic growth.”
To buttress their arguments, Republicans accuse the EPA of not evaluating the economic cost of regulations, clearing a path to nearly any proposal in favor of the environment.
When asked what policies the EPA has in place for assessing the economic impact of proposed legislation, the U.S. Chamber’s Bill Kovacs, Senior Vice President of Environment, explained to Politic365 how the requirement of such an evaluation is usually ignored. “Almost all environmental laws contain a provision requiring [the] EPA to conduct continuing studies of the impact its regulations have on employment, but [they] rarely, if ever, perform such studies,” says Kovacs.
If the EPA is unwilling to provide the legally-required studies, it’s no wonder most Americans have little understanding of what economic effects can come from seemingly benign and commonsensical EPA policies. (Let’s be honest, most of you do not have time to read through this entire article, no less an EPA economic impact report.)
We therefore have to rely on outside resources, “independent” analysis, and a little common sense to understand why Ron Paul and so many other Republicans want to completely do away with what Democrats see as the nation’s best defense against environmental abuse.
I recently wrote about the newly introduced Mercury Air Standards regulation here at Politic365, whose intent is to “protect millions of families and children from harmful and costly air pollution and provide the American people with health benefits that far outweigh the costs of compliance,” according to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
Sounds good. I don’t want to die of mercury poisoning or lung cancer, do you?
Consumer groups, however, expect the policy to come with an estimated $11 billion per year increase in home energy and business costs. With rising gas and food prices already affecting family budgets, consumers start to wonder if the off chance of getting cancer or food or water poisoning is worth the cost of not having any food at all.
In another example, the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to review air quality standards and set annual goals for American industry to comply with. If left alone, the U.S. Chamber claims that the costs of 2013 goals would range from $20-90 billion per year. Even the Head-Democrat-in-Charge, Barack Obama, had to retreat after a recent direct attack by the U.S. Chamber and 175 of its closest pals.
Both examples epitomize the classic “cleaner air in the future” vs. “jobs for Americans now” battle that Democrats have fought against Republicans since the industrial revolution.
Leviathan-sized manufacturing plants and multinational corporations aren’t the only ones uneasy with what Republicans claim are “out-of-control” EPA standards. In October, the House Judiciary Committee brought forward small business owners to testify on EPA regulations’ impact on their bottom line as well as hiring practices.
Politic365 recently spoke with the owner of a small concrete supplier in Louisiana who testified during those hearings. According to the business owner, who wished to keep his name anonymous, new EPA rules within his industry will incite a “33% price increase for one of my company’s most critical manufacturing components.” He continued to explain that, in an industry where profit margins are already tight, increased costs might mean comparable cuts somewhere else, most likely in employment.
Although the allure of a cleaner environment is strong, the unfortunate economic circumstances of the past several years have Americans leaning towards job-protection over environmental protection, according to recent polling.
Yet, despite this knowledge, the EPA seems to have no intention of reorganizing its game plan.
The former president of Shell Oil, John Hofmeister expressed his regret that EPA officials demonstrated a “complete lack of comprehension as to the business implications of the regulatory issues they were managing” during his tenure.
Is that any reason to do away with the agency whose mission is to protect our environment? You may be surprised to hear that many Republicans don’t think so.
Hofmeister continued to articulate the rationale behind the belief that most Republicans hold today. “I think we need an EPA. I believe in regulation. But when regulators are going against the highest standard operating companies in the country just because they can, it makes no sense to drive them into a state where the only solution is to shut down the facility.”
Maybe Republicans do have a reason other than a long-held abhorrence towards polar bears and rainforests (according to Green Peace) for disliking the EPA. After a recent Congressional Budget Office memo highlighted the fact that we are now in the longest period of “high unemployment” since the Great Depression, the Republican Party may just be saying that it would rather have Mother Nature in the unemployment line than more American families.
JUSTIN VELEZ-HAGAN is a Senior Contributing Writer and Commentator for Politic365.com. He is also the National Executive Director of The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce and an international developer of senior living facilities. He can be reached at Justin@Politic365.com.