I don't know of many people who would welcome a repeal of the laws that banned leaded gas or smoking in designated public places. In fact, I wager that most of us would agree that we are breathing easier because of these types of measures.

In a similar vein, I suspect that most Americans would not be opposed to requiring manufacturing plants, including wood products factories, to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rule to to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That is, at least, until they were made to understand that the high price of MACT compliance could cost a family member, friend or neighbor their job.

Jobs vs. the EnvironmentSuch is the tactical approach the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is taking with a new multi-million campaign that protests what it deems overregulation, new burdens and restrictions imposed by the EPA. In short, NAM "No New Regs" initiative implores Congress and the Obama Administration to "carefully consider the severe economic impact these job-killing regulations will have on energy prices and on businesses and families across country."

“At a time when America is rebounding from a serious recession, we need policies that help manufacturers by using incentives to create jobs rather than imposing regulations that create more uncertainty, diminish our competitiveness and discourage investment,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons.

Taking It to the Airwaves
NAM is taking its opposition to "EPA's overregulations" to the airwaves. The campaign includes television and radio ads in six impacted manufacturing states: Arkansas, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The commercials are meant to win over public opinion that would put jobs and U.S. manufacturing competitiveness above new and costly environmental regulations.

Among its targets, NAM is challenging the cost-benefit relationship of EPA's rules to curb greenhouse gas emissions, including the controversial MACT boiler rule that would require wood and paper companies to install costly engineering and processing controls. In addition, NAM's campaign focuses on the need for policies that will help U.S. manufacturers, which use one-third of the nation's energy supply, to have access to affordable and reliable energy sources. These energy sources include burning wood residuals to create steam to heat a plant or fuel a dry kiln.

NAM supports draft legislation introduced March 3 by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) and Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY). Called the Sen. The Energy Tax Prevention Act, the legislation would undermine the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from stationary sources under the Clean Air Act.

In addition to seeking legislative relief,  NAM is challenging the EPA's new regulations in federal court.

“Manufacturers already have invested billions of dollars to comply with federal regulations, but the EPA continues to propose hundreds of new regulations that will raise costs for all consumers, especially manufacturers, undermining their ability to create jobs and compete in the global marketplace,” Timmons said.

No doubt low labor rates strongly factored into the decision of U.S. manufacturers to close up plants and source their products from China and other emerging manufacturing countries. But don't think for one moment that the cost EPA compliance to upgrade a plant or build a new one did not play an important role in the mass migration of the furniture industry off shore.

It did and still does.

I hope those who might get warped satisfaction from the notion that fewer furniture factories equals less air pollution, consider where their furniture is being made and how much less is being required by government oversight to stem air and water pollution. 

We don't have to turn the clocks back to the 1990s, but we should make it a priority to get American manufacturing back on its feet and putting people back to work. 

A healthier economy will also help us all breathe easier.  

Read more of Rich Christianson's blogs.

Guest Blogs Welcome
Got a viewpoint you would like to share with our online woodworking community? Woodworking Network welcomes guest blogs from wood products professionals. Submit your opinions to Rich Christianson, Editor at Large, at rchristianson@vancepublishing.com.

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