Public Policy Update: EPA and Collective Bargaining

December 9, 2010

EPA Delays Decision on 8 Hour Ozone Standard

In January of 2010 the EPA announced they would set a stricter 8 Hour Ozone Standard. The Chamber became involved with Land of Sky Regional Council and worked to create a policy position that protected the people and businesses of Western North Carolina. The Chamber desired the stricter regulation to come from Congress, which is accountable to voting constituents instead of from the EPA. The Chamber has been monitoring the situation and waiting for the EPA to announce the new standard. Yesterday the EPA announced that it will once again delay the decision until July of 2011. You can see the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce’s statement below and the EPA’s press release.

Asheville Chamber Position Statement

The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce recognizes that climate change is an important issue which must be addressed by Congress. We strongly support efforts by Congress to craft comprehensive environmental legislation which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and protects our economic competitiveness and quality of life. The Chamber appreciates the role the Environmental Protection Agency plays in protecting the American people, but we do not support the recent efforts of the EPA to move towards regulating greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. We urge Congress to develop this important environmental protection legislation within the next two years to continue the system of checks and balances necessary for issues that impact jobs, our economy, and environment. The Chamber recognizes that members of Congress are held accountable to constituents for decisions on cost and impacts and federal agencies do not have the same accountability for economic consequences.

EPA Statement

Under Administrator Jackson’s leadership, in January the Environmental Protection Agency proposed stricter standards for smog – standards that would help prevent up to 12,000 premature deaths, 58,000 cases of aggravated asthma and save up to $100 billion dollars in health costs.
The proposed standard would replace an existing standard set during the previous Administration, which many – including the Agency’s independent team of expert scientists known as Clean Air Science Advisory Committee (CASAC) – believed did not go far enough to protect public health.
Administrator Jackson proposed that EPA select a standard in the range that CASAC indicated would be protective of Americans’ health. As part of EPA’s extensive review of the science, Administrator Jackson will ask CASAC for further interpretation of the epidemiological and clinical studies they used to make their recommendation. To ensure EPA’s decision is grounded in the best science, EPA will review the input CASAC provides before the new standard is selected. Given this ongoing scientific review, a final standard – which will be in the range recommended by the CASAC – will be set by the end of July, 2011.
In addition to this standard, EPA is moving forward with a number of national rules that will significantly reduce pollution and improve public health for all Americans. These include rules designed to reduce harmful emissions from cars, power plants and other industrial facilities that contribute to ozone formation. Taking additional time to complete the scientific review of the ozone standard will not delay the public health benefits of these rules.

Collective Bargaining Update

The revised collective bargaining mandate bill (S. 3911) that would have forced all states and local government to allow certain government employees to collectively bargain was REJECTED by the U.S. Senate yesterday (12/8). The cloture vote, allowing the bill to move forward for a full Senate floor vote FAILED by a vote of 55-43 (60 votes were needed) with U.S. Senator Kay Hagan (D) voting NO and U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R) voting NO.