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Manufacturers Head to the Hill to Outline Ozone Fears | Commentary

A growing regulatory burden is poised to make this a long summer for the nation’s manufacturers, so we kicked it off by recently bringing our concerns directly to our representatives in Washington.

The visit of more than 400 manufacturers from across the country came on the heels of the Environmental Protection Agency issuing new rules under the Clean Water Act and submitting first of their kind greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations for review to the White House. In fewer than four months, on Oct.1, the EPA will keep up the onslaught of regulations with strict new standards on ground-level ozone.

Manufacturers have long been accustomed to regulations imposed in the interest of safety and a cleaner environment and we take pride in developing innovative solutions that make our companies more competitive and the communities in which we operate and where our employees and their families reside better places to live. When government policies have been reasonable and well thought out, over the years we have been able to ensure environmental protection and regulatory compliance, along with economic growth. The new ozone regulation on the horizon abandons any sense of balance and threatens to do significant damage to the economy.

The current standard for ground-level ozone, set in 2008, is 75 parts per billion. The new rules would require states and counties to reduce ground-level ozone to 65-70 parts per billion or risk a host of economic and bureaucratic sanctions, including the loss of federal highway money. Make no mistake, what might seem like an incremental step would actually be a giant and costly leap. A study NAM issued earlier this year found the new standard would reduce U.S. gross domestic product by $140 billion per year, or a total of $1.7 trillion from 2017 to 2040. That would mean 1.4 million fewer jobs equivalents for Americans annually. When we say this would be the most expensive regulation ever imposed on the American public, this is not hyperbole, it is what the data tells us.

The new rules come at a time when the air quality is better than it has been in decades. As a nation, we have cut ozone levels by one-third in the past 30 years but these strides have not come without costs. Difficult decisions had to be made, but ultimately there were available technologies and manufacturers adapted. EPA is now pushing beyond what technology can deliver. Manufacturers will increasingly face the untenable choice of having to curtail operation or be in noncompliance.

Just recently, more than 400 manufacturers from across the United States took to the halls of Congress to speak to lawmakers about the devastating effects of this regulation. Their message was clear: A solution is needed. I also had the opportunity to testify at the House Committee on Science, Space and Technologies hearing on the EPA’s regulatory outreach including this proposed ozone regulation. It is critical that our leaders in Washington and across the United States hear the concerns of manufacturers.

Manufacturers will continue to seek a more balanced approach in the hope that the summer of 2015 does not mark the period when regulatory overreach began a painful reversal of the economic growth that had long eluded the nation’s employers and workers.

Ross Eisenberg is a senior vice president with the National Association of Manufacturers.

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