President Donald’s administrative minions, since day one, have been “reviewing” federal regulations they argue are so costly they curtail growth in American manufacturing, and worse, put American jobs at risk. Thus they are focusing on rules that govern environmental reviews in permitting processes and regulate impacts on worker health and safety.
Industry groups oppose one particular regulation — the rule tightening ozone emissions under the Clean Air Act’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
According to a Reuters story by David Lawder, “The National Association of Manufacturers said the EPA’s review requirements for new sources of emissions such as factories can add $100,000 in costs for modeling air quality to a new facility and delay factory expansions by 18 months.”
According to Lawder, “Several groups argu[ed] this would expose them to increased permitting hurdles for new facilities, raising costs.” [emphasis added]
Other rules opposed by industry would curtail exposure to other substances, such as cancer-causing crystalline silica dust common at construction sites; beryllium, a potential carcinogen; and mercury, a toxic chemical emitted from power plants.
Regulations on industry raise its costs. So it’s predictable industry would seek limits on any regulations that would cost it money (or prevent maximizing shareholder value).
If the administration succeeds in limiting regulations regarding chemical emissions, it also succeeds in transferring costs from industry to those who would be affected by exposure to those chemicals — such as industry’s own employees and the general public.
Exposure to ozone can aggravate health ailments such as asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis. Beryllium exposure can cause tissue and organ disease as well as cancer. Inhaling or ingesting mercury can damage the nervous, digestive, and immune systems, lungs, and kidneys. It can be fatal.
Such exposures mean more trips to the emergency room. That means missed workdays (limiting industry efficiency and productivity). That means more co-pays and deductibles for doctor’s visits or hospitalization (assuming the sick person has insurance). The desire of industry to avoid costs associated with regulations of toxic substances transfers the impact of exposure — and its associated costs — to the rest of us.
When any industry argues for curtailing regulation of toxic emissions, always ask: Whose wallet wins? Whose wallet loses?
In the era of President Donald and the Swampsters, the losing wallet won’t belong to industry.