U.S. Senator Herb Kohl and Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin today met with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson to press for more time in implementing a new rule regarding the industrial and commercial boilers used by Wisconsin's paper companies. Baldwin and Kohl are concerned about the ability of businesses in Wisconsin to meet the new pollution control standards and the costs for companies to do so. Many of the paper mills will need to replace or upgrade the boilers which will take significant time and planning. Wisconsin is the nation's leading papermaking state.
"None of the paper companies we have listened to have said they do not want to comply with this rule. Instead it's just the opposite -- each company wants to fulfill its obligations, they just need more time. Extending the compliance time would allow these paper companies to spread the associated costs over time. It's a reasonable request that will help significant employers in our state," Kohl said.
"Wisconsin has a long, proud history of papermaking," said Baldwin. "To continue that tradition and create more jobs, we must ensure that paper manufacturers are not penalized by unfair trade practices or burdensome regulations. Paper companies in Wisconsin want to comply with updated standards for boilers; they simply need more time to comply. I'm proud to partner with Senator Kohl in making our case to the EPA," she said.
According to the Wisconsin Paper Council, the pulp and paper industries and allied firms employ 40,000 people in the state. In September 2010, a study found that that the initial draft proposal of the boiler rules could result in the loss of 7,500 pulp and paper jobs in Wisconsin, $470 million in compliance costs, and the closure of 11 paper mills. Since that time, after listening to public comments from industry and feedback from Senator Kohl and Congresswoman Baldwin, EPA has significantly revised the rules.
Kohl and Baldwin also emphasized that Wisconsin's paper industry has been under immense pressure from foreign competition from China and other countries that heavily subsidize their industry. Baldwin helped level the playing field for Wisconsin manufacturers this year by authoring the CHEATS Act, whose provisions were signed into law, to preserve countervailing duties (CVDs) on subsidized imports from China and other countries.