The protection of our natural environment is a moral calling. As an outdoors enthusiast, I try to answer the call by following the old rule of “leave no trace.” It’s a simple principle that’s meant to conserve nature for future generations.
However, conservation does not exclude our ability to use nature, whether for camping and hunting or farming and harvesting natural resources like timber.
In order to balance the use of nature with our duty to conserve it, America has led the way in sensible environmental regulations.
As a Republican, I am proud of my party’s environmental record, which includes President Lincoln’s protection of Yosemite Valley, President Grant’s creation of the first National Park in Yellowstone, President Theodore Roosevelt’s designation of more than 70 natural areas as national monuments, wildlife refuges, or national parks including the Grand Canyon and Yosemite, President Nixon’s creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the landmark Clean Air Act and President George W. Bush’s creation of the world’s largest ocean preserve in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands.
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Unfortunately, sensible regulations have lately given way to overreaching and burdensome environmental regulations that cost American jobs.
President Obama’s EPA has issued stringent regulations that are planned to take effect this fall and winter that will destroy jobs and cost billions of dollars when our economy can least afford it.
For example, the EPA’s new Boiler MACT regulation will impact hospitals, factories, colleges and thousands of major American employers who use boilers. The odious new rule will impose billions of dollars in compliance costs and put at risk over 200,000 jobs. It’s estimated in the paper mill industry alone, 36 mills across the country would close because of the new regulations governing boilers, resulting in nearly 90,000 lost jobs.
Other new EPA regulations in the pipeline include the Cement MACT. A recent study concluded it would force the closure of nearly 20 percent of America’s cement manufacturing plants. This looming regulation caused the suspension of a $350 million cement production facility in Ragland, Ala., stopping work for 1,500 construction workers.
Not only do many of the EPA’s new regulations result in lost jobs and wasted money, but they also suspend common sense. Take for example the EPA’s “Farm Dust” regulation that would create historic restrictions of particulate matter — “dust” caused by activities like harvesting or driving a truck down a dirt road.
Perhaps the most convincing argument that overreaching environmental regulations cost jobs can be found in President Obama’s order to the EPA to withdraw new smog regulations. By the EPA’s own estimate, the new rule would have cost the economy $90 billion a year, which could have meant millions of lost jobs over the course of a decade.
Supporters of the EPA will argue that the jobs lost by environmental regulations are offset by new “green” jobs or jobs that are created as a result of complying with the regulations. However, the recent bankruptcy of California-based Solyndra that laid off over 1,000 employees refutes that argument. If a White House backed solar panel company that received over half a billion dollars in government loans could not be viable, it is dubious to believe in the hope of “green” jobs to replace jobs lost by extreme environmental regulations.
The government’s own Small Business Administration released a study just a year ago that showed the total cost of compliance to all federal regulations is now $1.75 trillion, which costs small businesses $10,585 per employee.
The study also found that environmental regulations are the main cost drivers and they disproportionately affect small businesses — costing 364 percent more than large companies.
Regardless of political party, we all share the goals of cleaner air, water and land. However, it’s clear that some environmental regulations do cost jobs and with unemployment rising in California and more than 9 percent nationally, we can ill afford many of the new regulations coming out of President Obama’s EPA.
Let’s make a commitment of protecting America’s natural heritage, while also protecting American jobs.
John Allan Peschong served in President Reagan’s administration at the White House and later as a senior strategist for the campaigns of President George W. Bush. He is a founding partner of Meridian Pacific Inc., a public relations and public affairs company. He currently serves as chairman of the San Luis Obispo County Republican Party.