Job growth hindered by EPA regulations

The president is known for his eloquent words. If he is serious about what he said about bad regulations, he needs to pick up the phone and say three more words to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson: “Cease and desist.” This is because while government has great power to destroy jobs, it does not have the power to regulate jobs into existence. 

The American people today are justifiably concerned by our continuing high unemployment rate and painfully slow economic recovery. They are worried that our nation continues to export more and more jobs and import more and more products, as our once mighty manufacturing sector shrinks in the face of growing foreign competition.

By following through on his words and removing unnecessary regulatory burdens, the president could rev up the mighty engine of our free enterprise system to create jobs and bring a return to prosperity for families across our nation. 

Responding to President Obama’s regulatory review, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), new chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said in a statement: "I applaud President Obama for joining what must be an effort that stretches beyond ideological entrenchments to identify the regulatory impediments that have prevented real and sustained job growth in the private sector. The anti-business policies of the past have hurt job creators, small and large. It's in the interest of every American that we create a modern, regulatory environment that fosters economic growth and makes U.S. companies globally competitive.”

Understanding that private sector job growth powers the American economy, Rep. Issa wrote a letter in December to more than 150 trade associations, businesses and think tanks asking them to identify existing and proposed federal regulations that would hinder job growth. He said January 18 that he will share what he learns with President Obama.

As president of NPRA, the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, I was pleased that I was one of those to receive Rep. Issa’s letter. 

In my response, I wrote: “Fuels and petrochemical manufacturers are certainly facing challenging economic and international competitiveness times. We look forward to working with you and other Members of Congress to help sculpt a regulatory environment that provides the maximum protection to public health and welfare without destroying existing or obstructing the creation of new jobs in the United States and adversely impacting our nation’s energy and manufacturing needs.”

I went on to discuss in detail how Environmental Protection Agency regulations on greenhouse gas emissions and other issues would inflict a devastating blow to our economy and our citizens – wiping out millions of jobs, raising the costs of fuels and thousands of products made with petrochemicals, and weakening our economy.

I also pointed out that NPRA members are not opponents of environmental protection and have in fact been leaders in improving our environment.

“NPRA members … have made significant investments to enhance air quality and overall environmental protection in the United States,” I wrote to Chairman Issa. “Fuels manufacturers alone have spent nearly $50 billion to remove sulfur from gasoline and diesel fuel and to provide reformulated gasoline.”

Detailing other environmental improvement actions by businesses, I went on to write: “Overall, total emissions of the six principal air pollutants in the United States have been reduced by 54 percent since 1980 and our nation’s citizens have experienced a two decade-long drop in ozone levels across the country.”

The needs of the American people come before politics. It’s time for elected officials to work together across party lines and focus on helping to revive our economy by getting rid of regulations that carry enormous costs and bring little or no benefit. 

It’s time for all sides to embrace the view of former Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Paul Tsongas, who ran unsuccessfully for his party’s presidential nomination in 1992, when he said: “You can't be pro-jobs and anti-business at the same time. You cannot love employees and hate employers.''

Charles T. Drevna is president of NPRA, the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association.