Manufacturing head says industry will help environment, not government

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The head of the top lobbying group for manufacturers said Thursday that American businesses are doing a good enough job reducing emissions on their own without federal mandates. 

Jay Timmons, the president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), said the industry is “eager to continue leading the way” on climate issues, and encouraged federal regulators to stand aside and let that continue. 

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“We have to strike a balance between our laudable ambitions for improving our environment and what is actually commercially feasible,” he said during his State of Manufacturing speech in New Hampshire on Thursday. 

“America should be, and can be, an economic and environmental leader.”

The NAM has bitterly opposed many of the energy and environment regulations pushed by the Obama administration. 

The group led industry opposition to a crackdown on surface-level ozone, warning that the regulation, finalized last year, will cost billions of dollars to implement and could hurt the manufacturing sector. 

The group is part of a business and industry coalition that has sued against the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) climate rule for power plants, arguing that a shift toward greener electricity generation will be costly for manufacturers. 

Regulators and environmentalists say those concerns are overblown and have defended the rules as important ways to protect public health and reduce carbon emissions

Timmons said that, on their own, manufacturers have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent since 2005, and he noted ozone levels are down by a quarter since 2005. The industry, he said, can make similar progress going forward if regulators get out of the way. 

“Manufacturers are not only committed to protecting the environment through greater sustainability and reduced emissions, we are leading the way," he said.