Published September 28, 2010
The top Republican on a Senate environmental panel released a scathing report Tuesday that he contends shows that the Environmental Protection Agency's new proposed rule on cleaning up boilers nationwide could devastate America's manufacturing base and imperil hundreds of thousands of jobs without providing any real public health or environmental benefits.
In June, the EPA issued a proposal that would force industrial, commercial and institutional boilers and heaters to use "maximum achievable control technology" to reduce harmful emissions that erode air quality and pose a public health risk.
The proposed rule covers industrial boilers used in manufacturing, processing, mining, refining and commercial boilers used in malls, laundries, apartments, restaurants and hotels, the report from Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma reads.
The agency, which is required to finalize the proposal by Dec. 16, has argued that implementing the rule would prevent 1,900 to 4,800 premature deaths in 2013 by reducing pollutants like dioxin, mercury and carbon monoxide, which are known or suspected to cause cancer and other serious health and environmental effects.
The EPA also lists a series of other benefits, including a reduction in asthma, bronchitis, heart attacks, hospital visits and lost work days. The agency says the value of the benefits ranges from $17 billion to $41 billion in 2013 alone -- outweighing the costs of implementing the new rule by at least $14 billion.
But the Inhofe report -- written by the Senate Environment and Public Works minority staff titled and titled "EPA's Anti-Industrial Policy: Threatening Jobs and America's Manufacturing Base," -- found that the proposed rule, known as "Boiler MACT," could put nearly 800,000 jobs at risk over requirements on commercial and industrial boilers, cement plans and ozone standards.
"Reducing emissions of mercury, hydrogen chloride and other hazardous air pollutants from commercial and industrial boilers is good policy," the report reads. "But the manner in which EPA set standards to reduce those emissions is impracticable and costly."
That's because the proposed standards are so stringent that not even the best performing sources can meet them, according to the Industrial Energy Consumers of America, (IECA), an industry group that represents companies with 750,000 employees and $800 billion in sales and is cited in the report.
The IECA is "enormously concerned that the high costs of this proposed rule will leave companies no recourse but to shut down the entire facility, not just the boiler," the report reads.
The report also warned that the agency in the coming months is expected to propose, and in some cases finalize, job-killing standards for cooling water intake structures at power plants; national ambient air quality for dust and particulate matter; and maximum achievable control technologies for coal-fired power plants.
"In short, the cumulative effect of EPA's air rules will negatively affect growth energy prices, jobs, innovation and domestic manufacturing competitiveness," the report reads.
A spokesman for the EPA told FoxNews.com that the agency had not seen the report yet.
"But the doomsday predictions we hear now are the same sort we have heard every time EPA has taken any step to implement the laws that Congress wrote to protect Americans from pollution in the air we breathe and the water we drink," EPA spokesman Brendan Gilfillan said in a written statement. "Experience has consistently proved those doomsday predictions wrong for the past 40 years."
President Obama repeated in an interview released Tuesday that energy policy remains one of his top priorities, and he will throw the weight of his office behind energy policy regulations in the same way he did for the new health care law.
"We're going to stay on this because it is good for our economy, it's good for our national security and, ultimately, it's good for our environment," the president is quoted saying in the Rolling Stone magazine interview.
The report comes one day after a bipartisan group of 41 senators and a month after a group of a 100 bipartisan House members wrote a letter to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson strongly condemning the agency's proposed rule to clean up industrial boilers.
The lawmakers said the rule could wreak havoc on U.S. manufacturing.
"As our nation struggles to recover from the current recession, we are deeply concerned that the potential impact of pending Clean Air Act regulations could be unsustainable for U.S. manufacturing and the high-paying jobs it provides," reads the letter written by Reps. Walter Minnick, D-Idaho; Robert Aderholt, R-Ala.; G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C.; John Shimkus, R-Ill.
"The EPA's regulatory analysis understates the significant economic impacts of the proposed rule," reads the letter written by Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Susan Collins, R-Maine.
The lawmakers urged the EPA to consider a flexible approach that allows companies to show that emissions of certain pollutants do not pose a public health threat.
"While we support efforts to address serious health threats from air emissions, we also believe that regulations can be crafted in a balanced way that sustains both the environment and jobs," both letters read.
Among the lawmakers who signed the letter were several endangered House and Senate Democrats from manufacturing states.