A choice: Recovery or regulator?

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) strongly supports the amendment and its bipartisan House counterpart, the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, introduced March 3 by Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.). Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) also introduced a stand-alone bill, S. 482, in the Senate.

The issue is so important for manufacturers that the NAM today launched a new television and radio ad campaign highlighting the costs of EPA overregulation, running spots in Arkansas, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Our ads ask, “Manufacturing has always provided good jobs that support our local economies. But times are tough. So why is the EPA pushing new regulations that could force businesses to close, making times tougher, increasing costs and prices for goods and services?”

The ads are available at a new website, www.nonewregs.org. Unfortunately, we expect the website to be kept busy as manufacturers respond to the unprecedented wave of regulations pouring down from the EPA and other Executive Branch agencies.

The impact of carbon dioxide regulation on energy prices is especially worrisome for manufacturers, who use a third of the electricity generated in the United States. Manufacturers pay utility bills like everyone else. When residential energy costs go up, families have less disposable income to buy things like clothes and groceries. When energy costs go up for manufacturers, we have less money to invest in research and development, innovative products and new employees.

The EPA’s aggressive overreach on greenhouse gas emissions comes despite Congress’ rejection of laws meant to limit greenhouse gas emissions, such as cap-and-trade. America’s citizens elect Congress to make energy and environmental policy, not the EPA. As the NAM’s Key Vote letter in support of the McConnell amendment argues:

“The McConnell Amendment seeks to ensure a healthy and productive discussion in Congress on harmonizing our nation’s energy, environmental and economic needs before EPA regulates carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from stationary sources, including manufacturing facilities.”

Manufacturers have been proved a bright spot during the U.S. recovery, making new investments, hiring thousands of employees every week, and exporting more than other sectors of the economy. Yet uncertainty compels the companies to practice caution, holding off investments until it’s clear just how much control over the economy the EPA will wield.

When Senators vote on the McConnell amendment this week, they will be choosing between a private-sector led recovery and the uncertainty and costs threatened by an unrestrained regulator, the EPA. Manufacturers ask that the Senators embrace the recovery by voting for the McConnell amendment.

Jay Timmons is president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers.

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