During the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a plan was hatched to save money and safeguard against the power of a new federal government by placing a Constitutional limit on the size of the U.S. Army at 5,000 soldiers. General George Washington dryly told the Convention it was a wonderful idea that he supported, as long as an amendment was added to limit the size of any opposing army to 3,000 men. History records the raucous laughter of the Convention, and the good-sounding but bad idea was dropped.
We should take heed of Washington's advice today as we face an equally rigid limit on American jobs imposed by federal regulation. Just as in 1787 as we debated each clause of our constitution, we must consider whether the regulations we debate today will also be equally levied on our competitors in an unforgiving global marketplace. Failure to achieve regulatory parity is to leave our country open to economic conquest, the same as unilateral restrictions on our army would lead to military conquest.
The current debate in Congress over the tidal wave of regulations pouring from the Obama Administration needs careful examination on these grounds. EPA's new regulations on Portland cement production, cross-state air pollution, and industrial and institutional boilers are prime examples.
Portland cement is the number-one construction product in the world. It is essential to nearly every project, especially the road and bridge construction the President is proposing under his latest stimulus plan. U.S. Portland cement producers have for years operated their plants under existing environmental regulations, and are in agreement that we can tighten up those regulations to further decrease emissions, including emissions of mercury. Mercury is a naturally-occurring element which is released by cement plants, coal-burning electrical production facilities, institutional boilers, and other industrial applications.
The problem is that instead of writing achievable goals for cleaner air, the regulators have proposed new rules so draconian that the EPA itself estimates that American cement plans will close, American workers will lose their jobs, and cement production will shift to Asia.
Now we're back to George Washington's dilemma -- but in spades. Not only will those Asian plants not be operating under any of our current or proposed regulations, they will be spewing their mercury emissions into the upper atmosphere which are then caught in the jet stream and dropped on America!
A map produced by the Electric Power Research Institute shows the shocking effect of the current Asian pollution on America and the globe. The ultimate irony is those same EPA regulators admit the possibility that their new rules could result in a net increase in global mercury pollution, as clean American production is replaced by dirty Chinese production.