New EPA standards could equal job loss
Posted: Thursday, September 9, 2010 12:04 pm
A recent study shows that a new regulation proposed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could result in the loss of 21,704 manufacturing jobs throughout Tennessee and the South. The EPA rule, Boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology (Boiler MACT), will endanger family wage, American jobs and reverse economic development in the rural communities that need it the most. The study was conducted by Fisher International and commissioned by the American Forest & Paper Association. Boiler MACT could cost the forest products industry alone over $6 billion in capital expenditures and hundreds of millions more in annual costs unless significant changes to the proposed rule are made. This comes at the heels of the worse economic decline the industry has faced in modern history, with over 380,000 jobs lost since 2006.
“Areas such as Kingsport, Athens, Cleveland, Savannah and Waverly depend on these vital paper manufacturing jobs,” said Tom Midyett, President of the Tennessee Paper Council. “These aren’t just numbers on a page. These are real people trying to support their families. This rule could effectively wipe many of those jobs out of existence and put great strain on the communities that are supported by them. There are 142 paper manufacturing facilities in Tennessee which employ 17,239 people. There are 68 boilers in the state that would be affected, of which 9 operate in the forest products industry. The capital cost of Boiler MACT for Tennessee would be $750 million across our industries, and Tennessee’s forest products industry alone would incur $120 million in capital cost,” said Midyett. The Tennessee Paper Council filed formal comments about the proposed rules with EPA on August 20 questioning the scientific validity of the proposed standards, and the lack of reasonableness in EPA’s selection of the options available to them. The Paper Council also questioned EPA’s unwillingness to consider more economically feasible solutions that would offer the same level of protection.
“We recognize the necessity of eliminating hazardous pollutants like mercury from our communities. However as EPA proceeds with setting MACT standards for industrial boilers, it is critical that they do so in a way that is sustainable to the jobs of the more than 200,000 men and women employed in our nations pulp and paper industry,” said United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo Gerard. “These are good family and community-sustaining jobs that workers and our struggling economy cannot afford to lose. We are committed to working with EPA to ensure that the loss of our member’s jobs is not an unintended consequence of this regulation.”
The EPA’s proposed Boiler MACT rule is so stringent that it could create serious disincentives for the use of renewable energy, and be unsustainable for the forest product industry here in Tennessee and the nearly 900,000 men and women the industry supports nationwide.