The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

First, Do No Harm

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 2, 2011

The Washington Post's lead story Thursday paints a sobering economic picture:

"Just a few months ago, the economy seemed poised to finally strengthen. Business confidence was rising, and extensive government efforts to foster growth were underway. But those hopes are being dashed. Forecasters who once projected economic growth of 3.5 to 4 percent for the year have slashed their estimates with each round of disappointing numbers. Instead of accelerating, the U.S. economy is puttering along at a growth rate of 2 to 3 percent -- barely enough to bring down joblessness slowly, if at all."

And also this:

"The economic recovery is faltering, and Washington is running out of ways to get it back on track."

Really? Washington's fresh out of new ideas? Well how about an old one? Primum non nocere, you know - first, do no harm. As in let's not go crazy with unreasonable things that provide no benefit and just make it harder for the weak economy to get back on its feet.

Start with EPA's plan for a stricter ozone standard, which could go into effect later this year. A Manufacturers Alliance study says the new regulation could result in 7.3 million U.S. jobs lost by 2020 and an additional $1 trillion in new regulatory costs per year between 2020 and 2030. If you did a double-take on those numbers, ask yourself why the administration isn't doing the same.

President Obama had the right idea earlier this year when he asked for outside input on ways to eliminate overly burdensome government regulations. While EPA is taking steps to curb some unnecessary rules, Howard Feldman, API's director of regulatory and scientific affairs, said more is needed if the administration is serious about helping the economy.

Feldman told reporters that API submitted nearly 50 pages of suggestions to EPA and the Interior Department in response to Obama's call. But EPA listed only few that would be changed and skipped over others that are the greatest obstacle to job creation.

"We are particularly concerned with the agency's plans to tighten the ozone standard and implement greenhouse gas controls on industry," Feldman said. "Reasonable ozone standards are appropriate, but EPA's proposals are anything but reasonable. And they will not provide an additional benefit."

The proposed ozone standard is so strict even Yellowstone National Park would be in violation, Feldman said. EPA's own analysis indicates up to 96 percent of all U.S. counties with air quality monitors would fail to meet the new standard.

"Our economy is still attempting to recover," Feldman said. "People need jobs, and in order to provide those jobs, American businesses need to be assured that the rules they must comply with are predictable and reasonable."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.