Here’s a simple test for whether the President is serious about jobs and the economy: Does he rein in the Environmental Protection Agency?
With the debt ceiling issue resolved for the time being, President Obama has stated his intention to “pivot” to focus on jobs and the economy. Economic growth is stagnant, and unemployment is at unacceptable levels—and that’s not even including millions of discouraged people who have dropped out of the workforce altogether. Jobs and economic growth are the right focus.
But there is, understandably, some skepticism that the President is serious. After all, depending on how you count it, he’s pivoted to jobs five to 10 times since taking office, and each time his attention seems to have wavered.
Well, it’s not for nothing that Representative Michele Bachmann (R–MN) called EPA the “Job-Killing Organization of America.” And the Obama EPA has released and has in its pipeline a series of super-expensive regulations that threaten economic havoc:
- A “Boiler MACT” rule that will require manufacturers and other businesses to install expensive technologies to achieve incremental reductions in emissions, with nearly no direct health benefits. EPA estimates this regulation will impact 187,000 boilers at hospitals, hotels, and other small facilities, and it will even affect many churches and apartment buildings. Total cost: $20.7 billion, with as many as 338,000 jobs at risk.
- A “Utility MACT” rule, combined with the just-released Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, that will require power plants to install expensive control technologies for direct benefits that amount to little more than a rounding error. Total cost of both rules: $17.8 billion per year, with as many as 175,000 jobs at risk per year.
- More stringent ozone standards that will hit manufacturing and power plants the hardest, with direct benefits that even EPA admits are nearly nonexistent. Total cost: up to $90 billion per year, with as many as 7.3 million jobs lost by 2020.
- Coal ash regulation and new standards for cooling water intake structures. Total costs: $22 billion to $110 billion, with tens of thousands of jobs at risk.
- Greenhouse gas regulations that will reduce capital investment by tens of billions of dollars per year and cost 476,000 to 1.4 million jobs.
EPA has many more regulations in the works, but these illustrate the point: forcing businesses to waste tens or hundreds of billions of dollars per year on environmental upgrades of dubious value means that money isn’t available to invest in business expansions or create jobs. Higher costs also cut down on business investment—a factory that makes economic sense at a cost of $10 million may not when EPA regulations have jacked the cost up to $30 million.
So the test for the President is simple: Does he side with the regulators and environmentalists or with the American people, who are worried about jobs and the economy? We will know the answer soon. The ozone standards and Boiler MACT rule could go forward at any time, and Utility MACT is due in just a few months.
The President insists he’s serious this time. Let’s hope so.