One of the affected industries that has a strong presence in my home state of North Carolina is forest products. Forestry, wood products, and pulp and paper operations account for more than 41,000 jobs and over $2 billion in annual income in our state. Imagine if any of those jobs were threatened simply because of a process gone wrong.
As our state's unemployment rate hovers at 10 percent - well above the national unemployment rate of 8.3 percent - now more than ever North Carolina needs to grow the number of good-paying jobs that manufacturing provides. Unfortunately, this administration's tendency to regulate job-sustaining industries into the ground is making it increasingly difficult for us to do so in this state and across the country.
Because they were hurried by the court system to issue the final rules, the EPA admitted that the resulting rules were inadequate and delayed implementation while it reconsidered them. The rules were re-proposed in November and are expected to be finalized in the coming months.
Despite all of that, last month U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman ruled that the March 2011 regulations were to take effect immediately, putting those affected in a difficult position: comply with an old set of rules, or gamble by planning for compliance with the pending set of regulations that would override the previous set.
Here in the House of Representatives, we are taking action to protect American businesses and job creators from this unnecessary government interference. In October, we passed the EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011 (H.R.2250), which I co-sponsored and was included in the payroll tax holiday extension bill that passed the House in December. This bill directs the EPA to re-propose new, less harmful rules within 15 months and extends compliance time from three to five years, giving businesses more time to prepare, sustain jobs, and prosper.
EPA mandates are driving up the cost of production and causing greater pain throughout our economy. We need to balance our energy and environmental concerns in ways that will not punish job creators and this legislation is a step in the right direction. This is solid, bipartisan legislation that would provide the certainty businesses need to plan investments for compliance as well as for future growth and modernizations to remain competitive in an increasingly global marketplace.
To be clear, I support clean air and realistic air quality standards. However, I also believe that good legislation can serve the people by protecting the environment and public health while promoting economic growth and stability.
We need to balance our energy and environmental concerns in ways that will not punish job creators. This starts by rolling back the predatory regulations imposed by the EPA, and by doing so, we will find ourselves moving in the right direction toward a more efficient, environmentally-friendly road to prosperity.
Rep. Ellmers, a registered nurse for over 21 years, was recently appointed to the joint conference committee tasked with negotiating the payroll tax holiday extension. She is serving her first term as U.S. Congresswoman representing North Carolina's second district in the House of Representatives.