May 15, 2023

Proposed EPA Air Quality Rule Would Raise Business Costs

As Connecting the Dots reported earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a rule to tighten limits on fine particle pollution, or soot, which largely comes from burning fossil fuels.

If implemented as currently written, the rule would limit how much of the pollutant can be in the air on average to a concentration of somewhere between nine and 10 micrograms per cubic meter annually, down from 12 micrograms under a previous standard that was put into place by the Trump administration. The EPA is also considering looser standards of up to 11 micrograms per cubic meter and stricter standards of as low as eight micrograms per cubic meter.

According to a new report by Oxford Economics, and commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), if implemented, the regulation would put in jeopardy $162.4 billion to $197.4 billion of economic activity and 852,100 to 973,900 U.S. jobs.

Specifically, the analysis found that if enacted, the revisions would:

  • Create a total economic exposure of $87.4 billion for manufacturing economic activity, an amount equal to 2.4 percent of the U.S. manufacturing sector’s gross value added;
  • Put at risk 311,600 manufacturing jobs, or 1.9 percent of all jobs in the sector;
  • Place 200 U.S. counties in noncompliance with the rule; and
  • Hit California’s manufacturing sector hardest, followed by Michigan and Illinois.

The new regulations also could be devastating for companies and for the climate by:

  • Draining resources from innovative manufacturers and imposing additional hurdles to the investment in research and development that fuels progress in energy efficiency and climate action;
  • Making permitting harder, which also would jeopardize new clean energy projects that the United States needs to address climate change; and
  • Hindering the reshoring of U.S. jobs, which will lead to less clean manufacturing in the United States.

The NAM has argued the United States already has strong air standards in place — standards that numerous regions of the country are still working to meet — and that the EPA should not change air permitting rules before meeting those current standards. The NAM also has noted that, for years, the manufacturing and metals industries have been developing smart, innovative ways to use energy, water, and other resources more sustainably — all while boosting economic growth and creating good jobs.

Rather than imposing new, unnecessary obligations on manufacturers, the federal government should focus on enforcing the strong regulations that are already in place and give manufacturers the space to find better solutions. The business community has called on Congress to oppose these harmful regulations.

The industrial metals community can support this effort by sending an email to decisionmakers in Washington, explaining the real impact this damaging proposal would have on industrial metals companies and climate and urging them to stand up against unnecessary regulations. Click here to do so.

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