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The EPA Hopes To Kill The Texas Jobs Machine

Sometimes you just have to wonder if the Environmental Protection Agency has it out for Texas—and, ironically, for President Obama.

EPA officials are holding public hearings—in Washington, DC, and Arlington, Texas, on Jan. 29, and Sacramento on Feb. 2—on a proposal that, if implemented, would be devastating to the Texas economy.

Texas has been responsible for virtually all of the country’s net new job growth, and the EPA can’t let that a success story like that go unpunished.

As American Enterprise Institute economist Mark J. Perry recently explained, “Texas is solely responsible for the 1.169 million net increase in total US employment (+1,444,290 Texas jobs minus the 275,290 non-Texas job loss) in the seven year period between the start of the Great Recession in December 2007 and December 2014.” (Emphasis in original)

EPA officials want to tighten restrictions on ground level ozone, from the current 75 parts per billion to between 65 and 70 ppb—though it’s clear EPA officials really want to drop the level to 60 ppb.

This rule is yet another example of an overzealous federal agency that—to paraphrase Will Rogers, and later Jack Kemp—never met a regulation it didn’thike.  The change would generate tiny, if any, environmental benefits, but have a huge negative impact on the Texas economy, and therefore on the U.S. economy.

Regulations impose additional costs on employers, which lead to lower wages and lost jobs.  A National Association of Manufacturers-sponsored economic-impact analysis of the 60 ppb standard suggests that change would reduce Texans’ incomes by the equivalent of 182,347 in lost jobs per year.  That equates to $48 billion in lost state GDP between 2017 and 2040, or $970 less in household consumption each year.

And those new regulations would increase residential electricity bills by an estimated 15 percent nationally, which disproportionately affects lower-income households. As Manhattan Institute economist, and the former chief economist for the U.S. Department of Labor, Diana Furchtgott-Roth has pointed out, those in the bottom fifth of the income bracket spend 24 percent of their income on electricity, compared with 4 percent for the top fifth.

Try to rectify that economic impact with Obama’s professed concern for working Americans.

This ozone rule is only the latest in a long list of unwarranted regulations.  Last April, the agency proposed onerous restrictions “to cut emissions from new wood-burning stoves and heaters beginning in 2015,” according Maine Governor of Paul R. LePage.

In 2010, the EPA went after lead bullets, eventually driving “the last bullet-producing lead smelter [to] close its doors on Dec. 31 [2013],” according to Fox News.

Of course, the energy industry would be most damaged by the EPA’s rule, at a time when it is already struggling due to lower oil prices.

Oil services company Baker Hughes just announced it’s laying off 7,000 people, and Halliburton has implied it will also be announcing layoffs.  And you know what the green-energy-obsessed EPA calls massive layoffs in the Texas oil and gas industry—a good start.

Even some environmentalists think the EPA’s rule would be too restrictive.  For example, when Bush administration EPA officials wanted to lower ozone emissions to between 70 and 75 ppb, Dr. Roger McClellan, the EPA’s former chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee, called it, “a policy judgment based on a flawed and inaccurate presentation of the science,” suggesting that existing ozone limits should actually be raised, closer to 80 ppb.

If implemented, the EPA’s ozone ceiling reduction would kill off Texas jobs and handicap future economic growth—and achieve virtually nothing in return.

And if the economic negatives aren’t enough to dissuade the EPA, those Obama appointees should remember that if they kill the Texas jobs machine, Obama won’t have any job growth to boast of.