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New EPA Proposal Threatens Jobs, Billions in Economic Activity

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Jezree Friend is the assistant vice president of External Relations for the Manufacturer & Business Association. Contact him at 814/833- 3200, 800/815-2660 or jfriend@mbausa.org

On January 6, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a new rule for air quality standards, which seek to curb fine particles or soot. The air quality rules, however, would largely impact industrial and manufacturing activity, potentially forcing companies to offshore operations and import more products.

The regulations would lower the annual PM2.5 standard from a level of 12 micrograms per cubic meter to a level between 9 and 10 micrograms per cubic meter.

The agency said it would also take feedback on a reduction to 8 micrograms per cubic meter. However, a new report, conducted by Oxford Economics and commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), warns that the EPA’s proposed air quality regulations for particulate matter are projected to threaten $162.4 billion to $197.4 billion of economic activity and put 852,100 to 973,900 current jobs at risk, both directly from manufacturing and indirectly from supply chain spending. In addition, growth in restricted areas may be constrained, limiting investment and expansion over the coming years. Due to these limited opportunities for expansion or investment, these areas in nonattainment could lose out on an additional $138.4 billion in output and 501,000 jobs through 2027.

Overall, the regulations could make it extraordinarily difficult to create new manufacturing jobs and protect existing manufacturing jobs in areas out of attainment. The regulations could also prevent much needed infrastructure improvements in these areas. This is because compliance with the regulations could require restricting manufacturing operations, resulting in fewer jobs, less investment and higher costs for consumers and families.

Regarding this proposal, NAM President and CEO Jay Timons said, “Improving air quality in the U.S. is a top priority for manufacturers, and we’ve worked for years to make progress in delivering some of the cleanest manufacturing processes in the world. This analysis makes clear these new regulations will weaken our ability to invest in the technology and processes that would continue to reduce emissions — while jeopardizing high-paying manufacturing jobs. We need to let manufacturers do what they do best: innovate and deploy modern technologies to protect the environment, while creating jobs and strengthening the economy.”

“Manufacturing is the engine that drives our economy here in Pennsylvania and across the United States,” added Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association Executive Director Carl A. Marrara. “This analysis shows that additional unrealistic regulations will inhibit our sector from fully bouncing back, leading to more of our jobs and manufacturing operations being moved overseas. This unnecessary offshoring would be detrimental not only to our economy but to our environment, and we strongly urge the EPA to change course on this misguided proposal.”

KEY STUDY FINDINGS:

• The proposed regulations are projected to threaten $162.4 billion to $197.4 billion of economic activity and put 852,100 to 973,900 current jobs at risk, both directly from manufacturing and indirectly from supply chain spending.

• The regulations create a total economic exposure of $87.4 billion for manufacturing economic activity, equal to 2.4 percent of the U.S. manufacturing sector’s gross value added.

• The number of manufacturing jobs associated with this exposed activity is 311,600, or 1.9 percent of all U.S. manufacturing employment.

• Manufacturing in the United States exposed to the proposed standard supports between $75 billion and $110 billion in GDP and between 540,500 and 662,300 jobs in the U.S. through supply chain spending.

• Due to limits on expansion and investment, the proposed rule would put at risk approximately $138.4 billion of gross value added (in 2021 prices) and 501,000 jobs in 2027 in areas of nonattainment.

• Under the proposed rule, 200 counties could be placed out of attainment.

• In Pennsylvania, the regulations create a total economic exposure of $4.5 billion for manufacturing economic activity and threaten 23,400 jobs.

• Manufacturing operations in the United States are environmentally cleaner than the global average.