Editorial: Biden’s override of the EPA puts the US economy at risk

Editorial: Biden’s override of the EPA puts the US economy at risk

The work of countless hardworking Americans has propelled the United States to its enviable position at the top of the global economy. However, eliminating this prosperity requires almost no effort – all the government needs to do is throw a few grits into the machines of industry.

President Biden is about to do just that. In a letter to White House Chief of Staff Jeffrey Zients last week, 72 top industry executives issued a stinging rebuke of the EPA’s proposed air quality rule that they claim would undermine trade important to both the economy and the president’s reelection prospects.

The plan calls for lowering the current standard for ambient air particles, called PM2.5, from 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air to “in the range of 9.0 to 10.0” micrograms per cubic meter. The letter confirms that the EPA is considering the possibility of reducing this to 8 micrograms per cubic meter.



These small numbers have a big impact. “The proposed discretionary revision to this standard, which is under review by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, could place approximately 40% of the U.S. population in unattainable zones,” the industrialists wrote. “Doing so would put jobs and livelihoods at risk by making it more difficult to obtain permits for new factories, facilities and infrastructure to support economic growth.”

Signatories include industry leaders such as National Association of Manufacturers President Jay Timmons, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Susan Clark, and Mike Sommers of the American Petroleum Institute.

A tougher standard would inflict a deep economic wound: nearly $200 billion in lost GDP and 1 million jobs through 2031, they wrote, referring to a study commissioned by the Manufacturers Association. Large swaths of the country will exceed potential air quality limits, including Texas, California, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada, Arizona and Illinois.

This is despite EPA records showing a decline in air pollution since 1990, putting almost all forms of pollutants below the EPA’s current limit. Only 16% of PM2.5 emissions come from industrial sources. The majority come from construction, road dust, and acts of Mother Nature, such as the Canadian wildfires that suffocated hundreds of millions of Americans over the summer.

Certainly, clean air is essential to promoting the healthy lives of Americans. A March Gallup poll found that respondents ranked concern for the environment above concern for economic growth, by 52% to 43%. The EPA asserts that stricter limits would amount to $43 billion in fictitious “health benefits,” such as preventing 4,200 premature deaths and potentially averting 270,000 sick days for workers.

But when economic issues move from the philosophical to the personal sphere, views tend to shift. This unambiguous point was expressed in Harry S. Truman famously quipped: “It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a recession.” It’s depression when you lose what you have.

Faced with the EPA’s tendency to overregulate and overspend, the Republican-controlled House on Friday voted 211-203 to cut the agency’s fiscal 2024 budget by 39% — an ambitious move with little chance of pressuring the profligate Senate. Which is led by Democrats.

Government decrees that threaten Americans’ livelihoods call for retaliation at the ballot box. President Biden is exaggerating the political risks he faces.

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