While Congress' attention has been diverted by health care reform, the Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to impose back-door regulations under the Clean Air Act that would give them sole control over how much and what kind of energy can be used by whom. Although many lawmakers, environmentalists and even the White House have said that is the last preferable option, they are letting it happen anyway.
EPA regulation of carbon will devastate domestic manufacturing, which has already lost 5.7 million jobs since 2000, with increased energy costs and an uncertain economic future. We can be assured that China will not impose such regulations and costs on their manufacturers.
EPA's heavy hand would be especially intrusive in South Carolina, where my organization represents a large number of companies that include steel, plastics, paper, cement, food processing, glass and chemical firms that rely on affordable energy to compete domestically and abroad. Industrial Energy Consumers of America member companies, while using substantial quantities of electricity and natural gas, are also some of the most energy-efficient in the world. Of course, this fact isn't advertised, along with its record of reducing carbon intensity by 45 percent since 1987 - without a carbon cap.
Congress must not let unelected officials at the EPA usurp its policymaking role, and decide policies that affect workers, industries, and taxpayers. Instead, our representatives in Congress should pursue non-cap and trade policy options, such as increased energy efficiency that will increase jobs and competitiveness in the manufacturing sector, rather than work against it.
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The writer is president of the Industrial Energy Consumers of America.