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Business Perspective: Proposed EPA regulations threaten US manufacturing renaissance

Business Perspective: Proposed EPA regulations threaten US manufacturing renaissance

The U.S. manufacturing industry, backed by federal government support, is seeing historic private sector investment with the goal of reshoring manufacturing jobs lost over the last 50 years. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new proposed regulations put that at risk.

Reshoring manufacturing jobs provides more opportunities for American workers with well-paying career options to traditional higher education. It’s part of why the Biden administration pushed for the CHIPS and Science Act and other efforts to strengthen domestic manufacturing. The pandemic also showed the value of U.S.-based manufacturing as the nation struggled to secure products and materials.

The EPA’s goal to further regulate fine particle pollution, or PM2.5, runs counter to reshoring. The standard was already tightened in 2012 and EPA reports a 42% decrease in the national average of PM2.5 from 2000 to 2022. The Northeast saw a 48% decline. Modern manufacturing in the United States is built on increased efficiency and clean technologies. EPA is ignoring private sector solutions and endangering projects the Biden administration champions, from semiconductor manufacturing to transportation.

Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, said improving air quality is a top priority for U.S. manufacturers that have worked for years to deliver some of the cleanest manufacturing processes in the world.

“These new regulations will weaken our ability to invest in the technology and processes that would continue to reduce emissions, while jeopardizing high-paying manufacturing jobs,” he said. “We need to let manufacturers do what they do best: Innovate and deploy modern technologies to protect the environment, while creating jobs and strengthening the economy.”

The Business & Industry Association is the New Hampshire affiliate of NAM. Together, we’re opposing EPA’s push to lower the PM2.5 standard by as much as 25% because it could stall America’s nascent manufacturing renaissance.

I heard these concerns when meeting with NAM officials and members at BIA’s inaugural DC Fly-In this June and at the annual Conference of State Manufacturers Associations in South Carolina in August. I’ve also heard from some of BIA’s top manufacturing members.

BIA, as a member of the Manufacturers for Sensible Regulations coalition, in June signed onto a letter to the Biden administration formally opposing EPA’s plan. The coalition, which represents hundreds of thousands of U.S. businesses employing millions of Americans, says regulatory burdens already hinder manufacturers’ ability to grow and add well-paying jobs.

Complying with EPA’s newest regulations may not be economically viable for some manufacturers. The inability to do so could cause them to downsize, relocate or close, negating gains of bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States. An Oxford Economics analysis commissioned by NAM warns EPA’s proposed regulations threaten up to $197 billion of economic activity and could put nearly 1 million current jobs at risk.

Output that remains in the United States would be more expensive and less competitive globally. David Greer, CEO of Wire Belt Company of America in Londonderry, a BIA member, warns additional regulations will contribute to more inflation. “More regulations mean more costs on the manufacturer, which will raise the cost of the product,” he said.

NAM reports the average U.S. manufacturer pays $19,564 per employee per year to comply with federal regulations and small manufacturers face a disproportionate cost of $34,671 per employee.

Manufacturers nationwide say their operations are cleaner than any other time in history. Furthermore, U.S. environmental regulations are already more robust than many countries, especially China, which accounts for 28.7% global manufacturing output.

Joe Shean, president of R.P. Abrasives & Machine in Rochester, a BIA member, said reshoring is a long-term effort the United States should encourage. But he warns that companies deciding to move production out of a foreign country have many choices. “We should be making it easy to move production back to the U.S. If we don’t, it will move to a different foreign country.”

Shean is hopeful the federal government will name a “manufacturing czar,” who would have influence in industry concerns, including EPA regulations. He points to how a czar could be effective.

“When regulators are drafting new or expanded regulations, they can do it with an attitude of ‘let’s make this as easy as possible to comply with,’ or ‘let’s make this as hard as possible,’” Shean said. “The attitude makes all the difference in how a regulation is written and how it’s received.”

BIA and NAM continue to rally manufacturers to urge EPA to reconsider its harmful proposal and urge Congress to oppose it. We share the priority of safeguarding manufacturers’ ability to invest in technologies that reduce emissions and protect the environment, while preserving jobs and growing the economy.

Michael Skelton is president and CEO of the Business & Industry Association of New Hampshire. Visit

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