Newest ally for conservatives in fight against EPA: Labor?

posted at 2:55 pm on March 15, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Up to now, the only voices in opposition to Barack Obama’s expansive regulatory adventurism have been conservatives.  Especially at the EPA, the White House has laid out its plans rather openly to conduct end-arounds Congressional opposition to enforcement of EPA’s finding on carbon dioxide, the lever which Obama intends to use to impose controls on American energy production, transportation, and other manufacturing in the US.  The Wall Street Journal reports that opposition to these job-killing efforts has spread to unions — although for their own political purposes:

The Obama administration’s environmental agenda, long a target of American business, is beginning to take fire from some of the Democratic Party’s most reliable supporters: Labor unions.

Several unions with strong influence in key states are demanding that the Environmental Protection Agency soften new regulations aimed at pollution associated with coal-fired power plants. Their contention: Roughly half a dozen rules expected to roll out within the next two years could put thousands of jobs in jeopardy and damage the party’s 2012 election prospects.

“If the EPA issues regulations that cost jobs in Pennsylvania and Ohio, the Republicans will blast the President with it over and over,” says Stewart Acuff, chief of staff to the president of the Utility Workers Union of America. “Not just the President. Every Democratic [lawmaker] from those states.”

Say, isn’t it enough that the expansion of regulation would kill thousands of jobs?  Shouldn’t that be the biggest concern of union executives, who supposedly represent the interests of working men and women?  Acuff’s formulation puts workers secondary to the political aspirations of union executives and the Democrats their millions support.

Not that this comes as a great shock, of course.

Opponents of the administration’s plans have said for the last two years that expanded EPA attempts to control emissions would cost hundreds of thousands of jobs.  The unions now agree with this assessment:

The EPA rule stirring the most anxiety will be proposed this week: It seeks to reduce emissions of toxic air pollutants, including mercury, which can cause neurological disorders in children.

An analysis by the miners’ union says the proposal, along with others targeting coal-related pollution, could put at risk as many as 250,000 jobs. Many of those would come from the utility, mining and railroad sectors, with the heaviest impact falling on Rust Belt states that have many old coal plants—and electoral votes.

“These are the same doomsday scenarios we hear whenever we take steps to protect Americans from dangerous air pollution,” responded EPA spokesman Brendan Gilfillan. He said it’s too early for the union to calculate possible job losses. A study released by the agency this month said EPA regulations put in place between 1990 and 2005 and aimed at reducing soot and smog will yield $2 trillion in benefits in 2020, largely from fewer premature deaths.

Let’s put that claim in perspective.  Two trillion dollars equates to roughly 14% of this year’s GDP.  Are we to believe that EPA regulation will add 14% to GDP, or that we’re losing 14% of our current GDP because of “premature deaths”?  Let’s also note that life expectancy for the US has been steadily increasing since 1970 (and certainly before then) without EPA’s proposed intervention, according to the CDC:

The unions already have big problems in membership, especially in the private sector, where most of what remains comes from the same heavy industries that the EPA will put out of business.  They may be a little late to the table and their priorities skewed, but their opposition to regulatory adventurism at the EPA certainly complicates matters for the Obama administration.

Update: Had to fix the first paragraph after the first excerpt; an editing change turned it into a circular argument.


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Trumka card?

i got nothin…

ted c on March 15, 2011 at 2:57 PM

Unionize workers at the EPA and the conundrum is solved!

WashJeff on March 15, 2011 at 2:57 PM

This is on agency what needs to be de-funded stat! They are killing jobs everytime they get their slimy hands on something.
L

letget on March 15, 2011 at 2:59 PM

In which Trumka gives a wet sloppy kiss to the Tea Party…sigh.

Wanderlust on March 15, 2011 at 2:59 PM

EPA has to issue an economic analysis with this regulation. Hopefully Congress will take a hard look at it.

rockmom on March 15, 2011 at 3:00 PM

letget on March 15, 2011 at 2:59 PM

Agreed. I have a sister who works for one of the major oil companies, on a drilling platform in the Gulf. She mentioned that the company notified BOEMRE the other day that it intended to make an application to drill. What happened next would be funny if it wasn’t tragic: the “Green Hornet” (what they are now calling their onsite BOEMRE rep) flew into a tizzy and began issuing new regulations on the spot, in her words, because he was in full CYA mode.

Complete, utter idiots. And they are running the asylum.

Wanderlust on March 15, 2011 at 3:02 PM

aimed at reducing soot and smog will yield $2 trillion in benefits in 2020, largely from fewer premature deaths.

And larger Obamacare costs to insure more people if we don’t repeal it . . . .

PastorJon on March 15, 2011 at 3:07 PM

Not getting any hopes up. Unions care more about power than jobs.

petefrt on March 15, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Yep, this administration has been doing it’s absolute best to destroy the US economy.

Not to worry, they’ll just raise taxes “on the rich” to make up any shortfall.

If that fails, they’ll just print more money.

GarandFan on March 15, 2011 at 3:11 PM

Libs live in a world that doesn’t exist.

And can’t.

Speakup on March 15, 2011 at 3:15 PM

-Mr. President, we have a situation. You can either be a champion of the unions or the environment, but not both; you need to choose.

“I..uh…uhh…I’ll be on the links. You figure it out.”
-PBHO

Bishop on March 15, 2011 at 3:17 PM

Expose the unions, many times a day.

Yet another area in which Democrats are boxed in politically is their making job protection for members of teachers’ unions more important than improving education for students in the public schools. No one loses more from this policy than blacks, for many of whom education is their only chance for economic advancement.

Schadenfreude on March 15, 2011 at 3:19 PM

Newest ally for conservatives in fight against EPA: Labor?

With friends like them…

itsnotaboutme on March 15, 2011 at 3:21 PM

Trumka card?

i got nothin…

ted c on March 15, 2011 at 2:57 PM

Anyone involved with this guy will end up bloody in the Trumpka of their car.

portlandon on March 15, 2011 at 3:21 PM

Pollution in the U.S. from all sources has been reduced drastically over the last forty years and people need to start educating themselves about the Law of Diminishing Returns.

The EPA’s attempts to justify its continued existence and grow the power of government by chasing dust bunnies into the corners is now costing a lot more than the “problems” they’re supposedly fixing. The unions are finally learning that like fire, an out of control government does care who it burns.

RadClown on March 15, 2011 at 3:28 PM

does=doesn’t

RadClown on March 15, 2011 at 3:29 PM

You know, I almost wish Obama would go ahead with this stuff just so tens of thousands of unionists would lose their jobs. Teach those assholes a lesson the hard way.

angryed on March 15, 2011 at 3:46 PM

The EPA is like the NAACP. At one point in time both organizations had a purpose.

Now, just like the NAACP sees racism behind every bush, the EPA sees a deadly polutant.

And just like the NAACP’s worst nightmare is a truly color blind society, the EPA’s worst nightmare is clean air. In both cases the organizations are no longer relevant and are disbanded. So in order to stay relevant they just make shit up.

angryed on March 15, 2011 at 3:55 PM

He said it’s too early for the union to calculate possible job losses.

Then…

EPA regulations put in place between 1990 and 2005 and aimed at reducing soot and smog will yield $2 trillion in benefits in 2020, largely from fewer premature deaths.

That’s just too funny. Too early to calculate job losses, but not how much we’ll benefit (in $$ equivalent no less) from fewer premature deaths?

taznar on March 15, 2011 at 4:06 PM

UFO-CIA

mojo on March 15, 2011 at 4:10 PM

If the Unions could
Blame us for the job losses…
Hey, No Problemo!

Haiku Guy on March 15, 2011 at 4:19 PM

Amazing transparency. We have the NEA general counsel saying it’s all about being able to “buy” political power. And now this guy saying they can’t afford to lose jobs because that would damage Democrats political prospects.

Nothing is more important to the unions than political power and money. Nothing.

Dee2008 on March 15, 2011 at 4:26 PM

These are private sector unions. SEIU and AF whosis, not so much.

Caststeel on March 15, 2011 at 4:46 PM

In which Trumka gives a wet sloppy kiss to the Tea Party…sigh.
Yuck!
Wanderlust on March 15, 2011 at 2:59 PM

I was compelled to fix ;-)

IowaWoman on March 15, 2011 at 4:57 PM

Unions getting into bed with Republicans. Only, and only when it threatens the thickness of their own wallets will they do this. And it seems, the EPA is a huge threat to that thickness.

*sigh*

capejasmine on March 15, 2011 at 5:43 PM

OK, hypothetically speaking, say obama goes ahead and orders his EPA to further choke production in this country by doing what he promised to do when campaigning, and in virtually every utterance since. Let’s further assume that it does, in fact, cost hundreds of thousands of union jobs in swing states.

Does anyone here really think these unions will redirect one thin dime to the campaign of any republican, anywhere, ever?

Well of course not. We all know when the rubber hits the road, the unions will still have millions to throw at candidates, and we all know those candidates will be leftists. And we all know that obama will still be the biggest beneficiary of their largesse.

And he knows it too. He has nothing to lose with respect to the unions.

This is just another attempt to make obama look like a centrist, nothing more.

runawayyyy on March 15, 2011 at 5:59 PM