Manufacturers use one-third of the energy consumed in the United States. Secure and affordable energy is a key component in any competitiveness strategy.
The good news is, in recent years, the United States has experienced an energy boom. Abundant and affordable natural gas has created a competitive advantage for manufacturers and spurred new investment across the country.
The bad news is, many policymakers in Washington are actively pursuing policies that would undo many of the positive gains manufacturers have made or are poised to make.
During his campaign, the President regularly touted increasing manufacturing jobs, and he rightly recognized that a strong and vibrant manufacturing sector is key to robust and sustained economic growth and job creation.
Unfortunately, the Administration’s actions haven’t always matched its rhetoric. Manufacturers are already staring down an onslaught of new regulations that would hurt our competitiveness.
The White House is due to release a new ozone standard in the near future. It will be one of the most expensive regulations the Environmental Protection Agency has ever put out. There’s the Bureau of Land Management’s potential regulation of hydraulic fracturing. While the agency has taken steps to improve its very bad initial proposal, it’s not clear why it even has a role to play. The states are already doing a good job setting rules to ensure that fracking is safe and responsible.
There are efforts to broaden the National Environmental Policy Act to stop energy production and the massive investments and job creation that come with building out our national energy infrastructure.
And then there’s the slow but steady march of limits on greenhouse gas emissions – a core feature of the Administration’s recently unveiled environmental agenda, its most ambitious to date. Pursuing this course of action unilaterally would remake the entire U.S. economy and deal a self-inflicted blow to our competitiveness.
The plan the President laid out on June 25 puts our country on a path toward the elimination of fossil fuels from our energy mix. That agenda is wholly inconsistent with his promotion of an “all-of-the-above” energy plan just a few months ago.
“All-of-the-above” means just that. It means traditional sources of energy like oil, coal, nuclear energy and natural gas as well as renewables like solar, wind and hydropower. However, under the President’s plan, energy resources would gradually be taken off the table.
First, it would be coal. Then it would be natural gas. Ultimately, the United States would be less energy secure, energy would be more expensive, and we would be unable to meet our future energy needs.
Eventually, something has to give. If the United States abandons fossil fuels, we won’t come close to meeting our energy needs. Even the most optimistic estimates conclude that other energy sources won’t meet our needs for years to come.
To his credit, President Obama did highlight the importance of energy efficiency and the need for investments in technologies that will help manufacturers do more with less.
Energy efficiency is also part of an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy. When manufacturers get more out of the energy resources they consume, they are better able to grow and create jobs.
Moreover, manufacturers are the ones who develop the technologies and make the products that allow us to use energy resources more efficiently. For manufacturers, energy efficiency is not just about our bottom lines. It’s about the innovation that will create jobs in our sector and across the economy.
But while the President correctly notes that climate change is an international issue and that smart investments in energy efficiency are part of a strong energy policy, we simply won’t be able to compete under a regulatory plan that amounts to unilateral economic disarmament.
If the Administration carries out its regulatory vision, energy prices are guaranteed to rise. We will willingly and deliberately cede our mantle of economic leadership. It’s time for Americans to say enough is enough because, ultimately, it’s going to be consumers’ wallets and the competitiveness of manufacturing in the United States that pay the price.