This week, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Dallas office, Al Armendariz, resigned when a video surfaced showing his controversial comments from 2010. In the speech, the Obama administrator explained his methods of dealing punitively with oil and gas companies by citing Romans’ methods for conquering villages.
“It was kind of like how the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean,” Armendariz said. “They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them. And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years. And so you make examples out of people who are in this case not compliant with the law…and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them.”
This is another example of the Administration not only being hostile to fossil fuels, but also to private businesses. As our economy continues to struggle to regain its footing, we should be focusing on jobs, growth and investment; however, this Administration is looking to penalize or “crucify” businesses.
Government should be an enabler, not be a barrier - and certainly not an executioner - of the very businesses that employ our families and sustain our local economies. Yet, new federal environmental regulations are significantly raising costs on Virginia’s manufacturers and localities.
The City of Hopewell, a city whose economy relies heavily on the community’s manufacturers, is being forced to spend tens of millions of dollars to upgrade its wastewater treatment facility in order to meet new one-size-fits-all federal standards.
Companies and major employers in Hopewell include Honeywell International Inc., DuPont, Degussa Goldschmidt Chemical Corporation, and the RockTenn Company. According to the Virginia Employment Commission, these, and other manufacturers in the area, employ almost 1,900 people in Hopewell, accounting for nearly 25% of those employed in the City. These regulations, if left unchecked, threaten a quarter of the City’s workforce, an economic impact that would devastate the entire community.
In response to these federal regulations, I have supported the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act to prohibit the EPA from imposing new federal pollutant standards on states in which the Agency has already approved state standards. This bill would allow communities to work with the Commonwealth, rather than Washington D.C., to ensure that unique economic and environmental needs are being taken into account. In addition, I sent a letter to the EPA urging the Agency to provide more information to communities on how the government plans to implement and enforce these new standards. Without transparency in this process, these regulations increase uncertainty for Virginia’s employers, stifling job creation and threatening job loss.
Manufacturers in the paper and foresting industry will be especially hard hit by new EPA emissions standards or Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standards. Any manufacturing company that uses boilers, process heaters, or incinerators would be adversely affected. However, this regulation will also hit schools, hospitals, and an enormous number of mid-to-large scale manufacturers. Compliance will require the installation of expensive new mitigation technologies like scrubbers, fabric filters and replacement burners. The EPA estimates that these new standards would have initial capital costs of $5.4 billion with annualized costs of nearly $1.5 billion. In response, I have cosponsored the EPA Regulatory Relief Act (H.R. 2250) to block the Boiler MACT standards from taking effect and give the EPA 15 months to reexamine and re-promulgate new standards with an achievable compliance deadline.
I am fighting to save jobs that could be lost as a result of new EPA emissions standards. The EPA has issued a new rule for the emissions standards of power plants or “electric generating units.” These new standards require lower emissions of mercury and other air toxins, and are primarily targeted at coal power plants that have a higher output of mercury. Compliance with the new standards requires significant investment, often prohibitively expensive, resulting in the expected closure of a number of coal plants nation-wide. These closures include the Dominion Power Plant in Chesapeake resulting in a loss of 145 jobs. I have supported the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act (H.R. 2401) to require cumulative analysis of EPA rules like the Utility MACT.
New EPA emissions standards for the manufacturing of cement are expected to affect approximately 100 cement plants nationwide. Increased costs and regulatory uncertainty in the cement market could result in thousands of American jobs being moved overseas. The EPA estimates that these new standards will cost over $2 billion for the industry and reports show that these standards have already delayed the creation of new jobs. Titan America, one of the largest cement companies in the Eastern United States, employs 1,500 people in Virginia, with 112 of them working in Virginia's Fourth District. I am fighting to save these vital jobs by supporting the Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act (H.R. 2681) to require further analysis of this costly new regulation.
In order to achieve growth and investment, government needs to get out of the way and provide the freedom for small businesses to work, earn and achieve, rather than over-regulate and tax. We can do this in a few ways.
First, we need to repeal job-crushing regulations, including the healthcare mandate being forced on small businesses. Next, we should overhaul our tax system to one that is simple and fair, by eliminating loopholes and reducing the tax burden on small businesses.
This Administration has picked winners and losers in the energy marketplace. This is unacceptable and we must encourage an ‘All of the Above’ energy policy by breaking dependency on foreign oil through domestic drilling, opening the Keystone Pipeline, and encouraging the use or development of new sources of energy through the New Manhattan Project.
We can also increase access to capital for small businesses to encourage job growth and job creation and invigorate American manufacturing by creating a national manufacturing strategy and bringing outsourced jobs back to the United States.
All across Virginia’s Fourth District, we have industries that are ripe for growth. There is even more potential for growth when government acts as an enabler rather than a barrier.