Please Note: Blog posts are not selected, edited or screened by Seeking Alpha editors.

The Day American Stood Still


The classic sci-fi movie "The Day the Earth Stood Still" is being remade over at the EPA but with a twist. In the movie a visitor from another planet lands on Earth with a mission of determining if humans should be allowed to live and progress because they are so destructive that at some point they would pose a threat to the rest of the universe.

The spaceman was named Klaatu whose goal was to meet scientists and world leaders to convince them to change the wicked ways of man.

Klaatu took human form and was harmless but his robot, Gort, was all powerful to the point he could even restore life. And so the EPA is headed by Lisa Jackson who is playing Klaatu and overseen by Carol Browner or Gort whose power is to kill industry. In the movie Klaatu had Gort stop all machines on the entire planet from working to demonstrate their power. The EPA is grinding the gears of American industry to a halt while the rest of the world is galloping along at breakneck speed.

"National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Major Sources: Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional Boilers and Process Heaters", otherwise known as Boiler MACT, looms large over an industry that has now been handed marching orders by the EPA that could destroy close to 1,000,000 jobs. The EPA will probably finalize a draft of its new rules on Maximum Achievable Control Technology on December 16, 2010. Compliance with the new rules will commence in late 2013 or early 2014. The problem is the new rules are going to crush American jobs. In fact, opposition to the new rules has created an alliance of strange bedfellows. Here's what the EPA has to say about the new rules:

o Prevent 2,000 to 5,100 premature deaths
o Prevent 1,400 cases of chronic bronchitis
o Prevent 35,000 cases of aggravated asthma
o Prevent 1.6 million occurrences of acute respiratory symptoms
o $5 to $20 in health benefits for every dollar spent, or $18.0 billion to $44.0 billion

Apparently 41 U.S. Senators, the Biomass industry, the United Steelworkers Union, and the American Forestry & Paper Association don't agree. They think it's an exaggeration that the new rules are needed to reduce Hazardous Air Pollutants (NYSEARCA:HAP), mercury, and other toxins. The EPA says it will cost $3.6 billion to install and operate MACT annually. But, according to the United States Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works, the rules will "bring little, if any, public health or environmental benefits." Moreover, the new standards could cost up to 798,250 jobs. The revised national Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone is too severe, and the restrictions will hurt job creation and business expansion in hundreds of counties nationwide.

Especially hit hard would be the biomass industry. Although it doesn't get the ink of solar and wind when those pushing renewable energy as the bedrock industry that will lift America out of its economic doldrums, the numbers they cite now are bolstered by the $1.0 billion from biomass, or 50% of all renewable energy used in this country. According to the industry, there are no biomass boilers that meet new emission standards. In addition, it is widely believed the new rules will halt building of new biomass-fired boilers. Paper mills are especially vulnerable, too. Initially, 17,000 pulp and paper mill workers will lose their jobs, with a ripple effect that takes the total number to 72,000. Once additional EPA rules in the pipeline kick in as many as 185,581 jobs will vanish.

The clock is ticking, but the EPA will not be able to kick these new rules in without pushback for several quarters. However, using the Clean Air Act as a mandate, and with an all-powerful Czar, Carol Browner, it is unlikely the EPA will budge.

This is an outrageous move, and a job killer. 18 Democrats and 23 Republican Senators signed onto a letter sponsored by Mary Landrieu (D- LA) and Susan Collins (R- Maine).

"As our nation struggles to recover from the current recession, we are deeply concerned that the pending Clean Air Act boiler MACT regulations could impose onerous burdens on U.S. manufacturers, leading to the loss of potentially thousands of high paying jobs this sector provides. As the national unemployment rate hovers around 10 percent, and federal, state and municipal finances continue to be in dire straits, our country should not jeopardize thousands of manufacturing jobs."

Signed by Senators Wyden, Alexander, Bayh, Voinovich, Murray, Snowe, Lincoln, Bond, Casey, Corker, Klobuchar, Shelby, Pryor, Wicker, Begich, Chambliss, McCaskill, Risch, Warner, Burr, Mikulski, Crapo, Inouye, Coburn, Webb, Sessions, Nelson, Inhofe, Merkley, Cochran, Graham, Isakson, Kohl, Cornyn, Vitter, Hutchinson, Lemieux, Brown, and Hagan.

The Damage Doesn't Stop There

New emission rules on Portland cement will affect 158 of the nation's 181 kilns when it kicks in by 2013. According to the EPA, the new rules will eliminate:

According to the Maguire Energy Institute at SMU, the cement industry in 2008:

  • Produced $27.5 billion in GDP
  • $931.0 million in indirect tax revenue for state and local governments
  • 15,000 high-paying jobs
Once in place, it is thought that the industry will lose 25% of its jobs and according to Professor Ragnar Lofstedt of Kings College, the U.S. will have to import an additional 28 million tons of cement to go along with the 20 million it already imports; most of those new imports will come from China.

The industry is being sized up for cement shoes, and China is licking its chops and laughing because they will sell us cement made from standards that will not match those facing American companies.

Another Bites the Dust

The EPA says particles 10 micrometers in diameter present health problems, so they are coming to the rescue. Farmers and ranchers face what some are calling an impossible hurdle. They must adjust control of particulate matter to levels two times more stringent than current requirements. Several Senators have sent the head of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, a letter while Chuck Grassly (R-Iowa) asked her to use "commonsense" with regard to the new rules on dust. Considering that corn must be dry when harvested there is nothing farmers will be able to do to control dust. In fact, the nation's heartland will sweat bullets when driving down gravel roads or when livestock kicks up dust. Then there's the weather. Fines that come with non-compliance will make our farmers and ranchers less competitive and cost jobs.

At least they can breathe easier as they tip toe around their property.