WASHINGTON, D.C. —President Barack Obama seems more concerned
with appeasing environmental extremists in his administration than
he is with the lost jobs of poor Americans. He’s letting the
environmentalists run wild with long pent-up schemes to force a change
in the American way of life that includes small cars, small apartments
and, for many, a return to an idealized 19th century lifestyle. It’s
not China that’s responsible for American job losses; it’s
Washington’s fault for shutting down whole industries and preventing
new jobs from being created.
What’s happened is that Obama has given the environmental extremists
the power to make some of their wish list come true. Modern measurement
techniques allow scientists to measure tiny parts per million; much
of the technology did not exist when the Clean Air Act was first legislated
in 1990. Using these new techniques environmentalists are able to impose
their fantasies upon American business and labor. For industry, removing
the last parts per million is prohibitively costly. For instance, technology
which could have removed the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was prohibited
by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because the discharged
ocean water would still contain more
than 15 parts per million of oil.
When the American economy was growing fast these EPA job killers were
not so damaging. Now, in slower times, they are proving deadly.
Below are eight areas where the environmental extremists hope to wreak
havoc on the American economy:
Human activity accounts for less than 4 percent of
global CO2 emissions and CO2 itself accounts for only 10 or 20 percent
of the greenhouse effect. Water vapor accounts for most of the other
80 percent. The actual quantity of C02 in the Earth's atmosphere is
about 0.0387 percent, or 387 parts per million. The Christian Science
Monitor recently published an excellent analysis of how the EPA’s
plans for reducing carbon dioxide could cause the loss of over a million
jobs and raise every family’s energy costs by over $1,200.
The EPA wants new, more stringent limits on soot
emissions from industrial and factory boilers. This would cost $9.5
billion according to the EPA, or
over $20 billion according to the American Chemistry Council. A study released by the Council of Industrial
Boiler Owners says the new rules would put 300,000 to 800,000 jobs
at risk as industries opted to close plants rather than pay the expensive
new costs. The ruling includes boilers used in manufacturing, processing,
mining, and refining, as well as shopping malls, laundromats, apartments,
restaurants, and hotels.
Some contractors are refusing to work on houses built
before 1979 (when lead paint use was discontinued) because of stringent
new EPA permitting required for lead paint removal. Lead paint in powdered
or edible form can hurt growing children. It was once used in the hard
gloss paint for wood surfaces, but has been painted over with non-lead-based
paint during the past 30 years. The new fines of $37,000 per day are
ruinous for smaller contractors and individual workers. Many jobs will
therefore not be created as smaller contractors stop replacing window
frames or turn down other work where lead paint may be present.
Ground Level Ozone
AutoBlog reports that the EPA has asked the U.S.
government to enact draconian new smog regulations for ground-level
ozone. The request to cut levels to .006 to .007 parts per million
comes less than two years after standards were set at .0075 particles
of pollutants per one million. As AutoBlog notes, “That doesn't
sound like a very big change, but the New York Times reports that the
agency quotes the price tag of such a change at between $19 billion
and $100 billion per year by 2020. Oil manufacturers, manufacturing
and utility companies are the main source of air pollution and they
will have to spend heavily to meet the proposed regulation.”
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)
The Fish and Wildlife
Service is drawing up plans that define more parts of ANWR as “wilderness” thereby
permanently removing any possibility for oil drilling in the vast field.
The full Alaskan nature reserve is the size of South Carolina while
the proposed drilling area would be the size of Dulles Airport.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has prohibited all off-shore
drilling until further notice, although Shell Oil and others’ proposed
sites are in less than 150 feet of water and use fixed drilling platforms,
not the floating kind used for deep water in the Gulf of Mexico. Potentially
vast oil fields and the accompanying jobs are therefore on hold.
Cement Kiln Regulations
James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who led the
fight to expose so called man-made global warming, warns of a new EPA
job-killing plan. “EPA’s new cement kiln regulation could
shut down 18 plants, threatening 1,800 direct jobs and 9,000 indirect
jobs,” he writes. “According to an analysis of EPA’s
rule by King’s College (London) Professor Ragnar Lofstedt, EPA
could send 28 million tons of U.S. cement production offshore, mainly
The above are all large-scale restrictions. There are also many smaller,
mostly unreported new regulations. A Heritage Foundation study describes
43 such restrictions imposed during 2010 and totaled up their cost
as well over $26 billion. Democratic Senator Blanche
Lincoln complained before her defeat, “Farmers,
ranchers, and foresters are increasingly frustrated and bewildered
by vague, overreaching, and unnecessarily burdensome EPA regulations…are
facing at least a dozen new regulatory requirements, each of which
will add to their costs, making it harder for them to compete.”
Gulf of Mexico Oil
While Salazar ostensibly lifted his illegal and
unnecessary suspension of all oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, we
don’t yet know if he has put up interminable, cost-wrecking regulations
in the ban’s place. Just one of his changes, allowing government
bureaucrats 90 days instead of the prior 30 days to issue every decision,
may be enough to ruin future oil drilling. The big floating rigs rent
for over half a million dollars a day to operate. Just the threat of
non-decisions along the chain of government command may be ruinous
and do to oil drilling what the environmentalists did to nuclear energy--namely,
shutting down all new plants by making the costs and risks prohibitive.
Michael Bromwich, Salazar’s director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy
Management, said that there were only 10 new well permits pending,
but according to The Washington Post there were 69 unapproved exploration
and development plans sitting in his office. Even simple, continued
drilling in already producing oil sands, where the geological conditions
are measured and known, has been suspended.
Salazar also suspended shallow well drilling in less than 500 feet
depth from fixed platforms. Washington only issued 13 such shallow
well permits in the seven months since the Macondo blowout in April.
Before that it was issuing about 13 shallow well permits per month.
As is often the case with Washington’s heavy-handed regulators,
it is the smaller companies, doing less costly drilling closer to shore,
that are bankrupted or driven out of business by these costly and burdensome
rules. All this comes after 40 years of successful drilling without
a major blowout or spill.
Government restrictions and environmentalist
lawsuits also affect other mining activity. For example, there is
currently a shortage in Chinese rare earth elements, which are essential
to a number of technologies, including hard drives and environmentalist-friendly
hybrid-car batteries. Yet despite an abundance of rare earth reserves
in the U.S., domestic production has
been essentially shut down by the president’s
It’s time for Congress to investigate what the EPA and its reckless
agenda is costing American workers, businesses, and taxpayers.
Jon Basil Utley archives
article originally appeared at The American Conservative magazine
Copyright (c) Jon Basil Utley and Reason.com where
this article originally appeared.