McConnell’s anti-EPA measure will save jobs

New York Post | By Abby Wisse Schachter

The Senate is set to vote today on an effort by Sen. Mitch McConnell to stop the Enviromental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases as pollutants. The EPA is trying an endrun around Congress, which did not pass a cap and trade (carbon emissions) bill last year. But McConnell’s measure isnt just about asserting the power of Congress over unelected bureaucrats, it is an effort to protect American jobs.

According to a study by economist Margo Thorning EPA reguation of greenhouse gas emissions could hurt our already struggling economy. “One of the most adverse features of EPA’s regulating [greenhouse gas]’s under the Clean Air Act is the impact on …the cost of capital and new US investment…Any substantial investment could well exceed EPA’s threshold level [for] emissions and be subject to yet unknown…requirements….[The relationship] between investment spending and employment shows that each $1 billion dollar decrease in investment is associated with a loss of 15,500 jobs in the U.S. Conversely, each billion dollar increase in investment is associated with 15,500 additional jobs,” Thorning explains. So now the bad news. “If U.S. capital spending declines by $25 to $75 billion, in 2014 there would be an economy wide job loss of 476,000 to 1,400,000 when direct, indirect and induced effects are included,” Thorning writes. That means a vote for the McConnell measure is a vote to stop an onerous regulation regime that may result in $75 billion drop in capital formation and as many as 1.4 million jobs lost by 2014.

The problem with trying to stop the EPA’s job-killing train is that new regulations isn’t even the only arrow in the enviros’ quiver. There is something called “guidance” which the epa uses in all sorts of ways to “regulate” business practices without actually having to pass regulations. Take nw EPA water quality standards guidance meant to curb surface coal mining in Appalachia. One Democratic congressman has called the memo “abusive” and is demanding the White house put a leash on the EPA. And a former Bush administration offcial complained recently that abuse of “guidance” memos, a way of changing the rules without consulting anyone else in the executive branch or opening discussion up to public comment, was at an all-time high. John Graham , who was in charge of reviewing new regulations for the White House under President George W. Bush, says that agencies have tried to argue that guidance documents are innocuous because they are not final rules. But, in reality, those memos have been used during both Republican and Democratic administrations to skirt public comment and avoid triggering review by the White house, he said. “The whole idea of guidance not being a rule — there has to be an arrow shot right through the heart of that,” Graham said, adding that Congress should pass legislation “to make sure that things that look like a duck and quack like a duck are a duck.”

Passing the McConnnell measure would go a long way toward identifying the duck.