The most harmful among the EPA’s proposals is the agency’s plan to lower ozone limits. In the days ahead, the President has a choice to make: choose to put more burdens on the nation’s businesses, or choose jobs.
The agency will likely roll out a new ozone standard in the near future to lower the standard to a range between 0.060 parts-per-million (ppm) and 0.070 ppm. The current limit, which was just established in 2008, is 0.075 ppm. The EPA isn’t due to review the standards until 2013, so this move by the EPA is entirely voluntary. The agency is making a choice to cost jobs, and the President is uniquely able to make sure this doesn’t happen.
The impact of the proposed standard is staggering. Its effects would ripple throughout the economy. The EPA projects that 451 counties (out of nearly 700 with ozone monitors) will not meet the most stringent of the proposed standards by 2020. That means economic activity in much of the country would grind to a halt. Construction would slow. Energy prices would rise. Businesses would be unable to expand. Large parts of the country would be off-limits to new industry.
The Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI has estimated what the new standards would mean for our economy. It concluded that enacting the lower end of the proposed standards could cost 7.3 million jobs by 2020 and add $1 trillion in new regulatory costs per year between 2020 and 2030. That’s $1 trillion businesses won’t be able to spend on expansion or job creation. Even the EPA can’t hide the huge annual costs associated with the proposed standards—it estimates compliance costs upwards of $90 billion annually.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. Lisa Jackson, the President’s appointee who heads the EPA, chose to change the 2008 standards ahead of schedule, and she has sought to set limits so strict that they are unachievable. Enacting the proposed standards would be a self-inflicted blow to our economy.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office recently issued a report predicting slow economic growth and unemployment of eight percent or higher until 2014. That’s not a comforting scenario. The EPA is poised to make it worse.
Our national priority should be to stimulate strong economic growth and put people back to work. We can start by rolling back existing regulations, streamlining others and—importantly—not imposing new burdens, like the proposed ozone standards, on job creators. President Obama can show he is serious about jobs by sending a message to the EPA to stop the excessive, job-killing regulations.
Jay Timmons is president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers.