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Letter to the Honorable Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator Herb Kohl called on Lisa Jackson, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to clarify the agency's intentions for a new rule regarding the industrial and commercial boilers used by a number of entities, including Wisconsin's paper companies. Kohl is concerned about the ability for businesses in Wisconsin to meet the new pollution control standards and the costs for employers to do so.

"Clearly, any new pollution control technology will carry a cost for covered entities. However, I urge you to consider ways to increase air quality standards without the potential loss of thousands of jobs in industries like pulp and paper," Kohl said.

Kohl noted that Wisconsin is home to more than 200 facilities and the industry employs more than 35,000 people. In September 2010, a study found that that the proposed boiler rules could result in 7,500 pulp and paper jobs lost in Wisconsin, $470 million in compliance costs, and the closure of 11 paper mills.

The text of Kohl's letter follows:

February 23, 2011

Dear Administrator Jackson,

I am writing today to express my continued concern about the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) regulations regarding industrial and commercial boilers.

I appreciate the difficult position that the EPA was put in with this rule. By court order, your agency needed to finish the rule this week. I was disappointed, as I know you were, that the court denied the reasonable petition EPA filed requesting more time. It is understandable why EPA made this request; in the petition, you stated that in the proposed rule, EPA "failed to understand fully certain issues associated with the affected sources."

I also appreciate the significant changes that EPA made between the June 2010 proposed rule and the final rule. In making these changes, EPA is being responsive to the more than 4,800 public comments and letters from elected officials, including myself, expressing concern about the ability for businesses to meet these new standards, and the costs associated with doing so.

As you know, among the concerned parties in Wisconsin is the pulp and paper industry. Wisconsin has a long and proud tradition with paper mills. Our state is home to more than 200 facilities and the industry employs more than 35,000 people. In September 2010, a study found that that the proposed boiler rules could result in 7,500 pulp and paper jobs lost in Wisconsin, $470 million in compliance costs, and the closure of 11 paper mills.

As you state in your letter, the final rule will cost about half as much to comply with as the proposed rule. I remain concerned that this level of cost could still mean thousands of jobs lost in Wisconsin. Clearly, any new pollution control technology will carry a cost for covered entities. However, I urge you to consider ways to increase air quality standards without the potential loss of thousands of jobs in industries like pulp and paper.

Furthermore, while it is welcome that you have set a 3-year timeline for companies to comply with these new regulations, I fear that other elements of this final rule will mitigate that benefit. Specifically, while you commit to accepting further comment on this matter, there is no commitment from EPA to actually change anything in this rule. The result is continued uncertainty for the business community. As I have heard from countless business owners, regulatory uncertainty is a threat to efficiency, profitably, and growth.

Accordingly, I urge you to be definitive on EPA's intentions for this rule, and state clearly how the agency will take into consideration the new comments that you solicit.

Thank you for the hard work that you and your staff have done and will continue to do protecting our air and water. I look forward to working with you to find a balance that achieves certainty for our businesses and a cleaner environment for the public.

Sincerely,
Senator Herb Kohl


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