The congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held the first of what is expected to be several hearings on regulatory barriers that impede industry’s ability to create jobs. Led by Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the hearings bring the concerns of the nation’s job creators directly to Washington, according to the Portland Cement Association (PCA).
The hearing included representatives from the National Association of Manufacturers, Black Chamber of Commerce and the Heritage Foundation. Individual sector hearings are anticipated in the next several weeks. A report issued by the Committee, after receiving comments from PCA and other trade associations, private companies and national think tanks, cited uncertainty of future regulation as a factor that “chills capital formation and can leave U.S. businesses with less investment capital if the money is diverted to foreign markets.”
During the hearing, representatives of small businesses, manufacturers and farmers identified EPA as the greatest source of red tape among all federal agencies.
Although domestic cement manufacturers are among the most highly regulated enterprises in the country, they are currently facing an avalanche of EPA rules that threaten the industry’s more than 15,000 high-wage jobs. PCA said.
“The recent construction downturn has forced the cement industry to shed more than 4,000 jobs, a nearly 25 percent reduction in our workforce,” said Brian McCarthy, PCA president and CEO. “Just when the economy is starting its recovery, EPA regulations could force the closure of 18 of the 97 cement plants in the nation, throwing an additional 1,800 Americans out of work.”
In addition to jobs, current and proposed regulations will increase costs to government and ultimately the taxpayer, despite calls from Washington for more conservative fiscal controls. A PCA study estimates that current and proposed EPA regulations could increase annual public construction costs by billions. PCA calculates that EPA compliance costs could add as much as $1.2 to $2 billion annually to state and local governments’ expenditures just to maintain existing roadways and bridges. The addition of new roads and bridges would increase the price tag even further.
“Fortunately,” continued McCarthy, “Congress is beginning to take notice of these recovery killers. Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) introduced a bill pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, which would rescind EPA’s portland cement NESHAP, on the grounds that the regulation, in its current form, would kill jobs while providing uncertain environmental benefits.
“The cement industry, like several other manufacturing sectors, is facing regulations that will cost several billion dollars and push manufacturing to foreign shores, causing the U.S. to lose the ability to economically produce a commodity that is indispensable to our country’s recovery and improvement of our infrastructure,” McCarthy said. “We welcome the opportunity to work with Congress and the Obama administration to ensure that regulations are based on science, preserve state-of-the-art manufacturing capacity and most importantly, protect precious U.S. jobs. Without taking these elements into consideration, the administration is doing our nation a disservice.”