During the period when the principal environmental laws of the nation were enacted I spent a lot of time in Washington and state capitols lobbying for reasonable environmental regulations to clean up the steel industry’s air emissions and wastewater discharges. Steel industry executives recognized then that cleanup was needed, but they also knew that it would be costly and could not be accomplished overnight, as prominent leaders of the environmental movement were then demanding. If steel industry employment and steel prices were to remain stable, which was critically important to the economic well-being of the nation, a commonsense approach to environmental regulation needed to prevail and, for the most part, it did during my days representing the steel industry (1973-1999).
In the 21st century, however, commonsense has all but disappeared as rules and regulations adopted in the name of environmental protection without congressional approval, are placing unreasonable financial burdens on what is left of American industry today.
A recent case-on-point comes from South Carolina where Palmetto Electric Cooperative, Inc., a venerable and reliable supplier of cheap electricity, is now soliciting its customers to help stop environmental regulation of the coal industry that is threatening to drive up the price of electricity to unreasonable levels and drive the coal industry out of business. Mr. G. Thomas Upshaw, chief executive officer of Palmetto stated in a recent email to customers:
“As member-owners of your electric cooperative, your help is needed in sending a message to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington to reconsider regulations that they are proposing to eliminate coal as a generation fuel. Coal is the most economical source of power for South Carolina and many other states. If Santee Cooper, our power supplier, were forced to close ALL of their coal fired plants and replace them with a mix of nuclear and natural gas, the average monthly cooperative electric bill would increase 54%. For the average electric bill that would mean a $79 increase.”
Mr. Upshaw further explained the situation in an open letter entitled STAND WITH US TO KEEP POWER AFFORDABLE
If this kind of extreme regulation in the name of environmental protection continues, industrial production will continue to decline with more job loss and price increases beyond what middle class people can reasonably afford, threatening the economic strength of the nation.
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