Clifford Falls column: Real threat to jobs this Labor Day

Affordable power can be the lifeblood of businesses and a critical element to growing manufacturing jobs across the United States. A proposed federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation regarding ground-level ozone emissions could put the cost of power out of reach for manufacturers and place untold numbers of jobs at risk.

The EPA is proposing to tighten the regulation for ground-level ozone from 75 parts-per-billion (ppb) to 65 ppb. With operations in Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania, my company, American Trim, would be significantly – and adversely – affected if this regulation were to take effect.

Readers familiar with our company know that we are experts in the designing, forming, and coating of metals used in the appliance and heavy truck industries. Being in this line of work means that our operations are very dependent on the availability of affordable power and being able to make business decisions based on a reliable regulatory atmosphere.

We are well aware that ozone levels in many counties in the four states where we operate are already not in compliance with the current EPA ozone regulation of 75 ppb. Lowering the regulation to 65 ppb would almost certainly place the vast majority of those counties in “non-attainment” status with the regulation.

Let me be specific about how this EPA proposal would negatively impact manufacturers. The new regulation would make it more difficult for businesses to get the necessary permits to manufacture goods and for counties to build critical infrastructure like roads and highways. It almost certainly would increase the cost of energy for every business and household in our four states of operation.

And it gets worse. In non-attainment counties, the proposed ozone mandate would be a serious barrier to job creation and investment. If implemented, the regulation would result in permitting delays for new or expanding manufacturing facilities, making it increasingly difficult to attract new business to relocate or expand and decreasing real estate values. Plans for new plants and expansions at existing ones would be shelved.

A recent study by the National Association of Manufacturers also found that the proposed new ozone regulation would cost the nation $140 billion annually. That would make it the most expensive federal regulation ever issued on the American public!

For more than 65 years, American Trim has been proud of the secure, well-paying jobs we provide the communities where we operate. From our early heritage in decorated metal to the innovative and high quality components we build for our clients today, we have given serious attention every day to reducing emissions to protect and improve our environment. We take air quality very seriously – along with affordable energy and jobs.

It is our hope that the federal EPA will reconsider its proposed change to ground-level ozone regulations and come up with a better idea that protects the environment, strengthens businesses and preserves jobs. The EPA’s proposed regulation is untested, unrealistic and cannot be met without further jeopardizing our already fragile manufacturing industry.

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Clifford E. Falls

Guest Column

Clifford E. Falls is the director of Safety and Environmental for American Trim, headquartered in Lima. Reach him at [email protected] or call (937) 494-6248