Jane Van Ryan
Posted October 30, 2009
The ongoing debate over the Kerry-Boxer climate bill has tended to focus primarily on two issues: the bill's potential costs and its proposed environmental benefits. But there are at least two other critically important items that have not been addressed adequately by the bill's sponsors. Both were mentioned briefly at yesterday's hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing.
The first involves government-mandated diesel emission reductions that began about seven years ago. The goal was to reduce emissions from heavy trucks to near-zero levels for both nitrogen oxide and particulate matter (soot). The American Trucking Associations (ATA) supports the air quality gains, but it notes that the environmental improvements haven't come cheap.
At yesterday's hearing, Barbara Windsor, president of Hahn Transportation and ATA's first vice chairman, said EPA diesel engine emission reduction regulations will add as much as $25,000 to the price of a new truck by 2010. Plus, the emissions regulations seem to be odds with the greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals of the Kerry-Boxer bill. As she explained, the diesel regulations "reduced our fuel economy by as much as 8-12 percent over the last seven years; thereby increasing carbon emissions by requiring us to burn more fuel. If we can reverse this trend and increase fuel economy, GHG emissions will be reduced."
The second issue involves the need for certainty. As Robert Winger, the president of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Buildings, Blacksmiths Forgers and Helpers, Local 11, testified, companies will not make investments until the government makes a final decision about carbon emissions. As an example, he told the senators about a coal-fired plant in Montana that was cancelled recently, although it would have been among the cleanest in the nation. Winger said, "the developer cited the 'aura of uncertainty' surrounding U.S. regulation of carbon dioxide as a key factor in their decision." As a result, 160 boilermaker jobs lasting four years were lost.
Environmental regulations with conflicting air quality effects and business uncertainty do not create a favorable climate for economic growth and jobs. The testimony of Windsor and Winger are two more reasons why the Senate should consider the impact of the Kerry-Boxer bill very carefully. API believes the Senate should reject the bill entirely and start over.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.