Today, U.S. Representative Chip Cravaack (MN) issued a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson. The letter addresses the Agency's proposed rule that threatens Minnesota's mining industry and the over 40,000 Eighth District constituents who depend on the mining industry for their livelihood.
Specifically, on August 15, 2012 the EPA published a rule in the Federal Register (Docket EPA-R05-OAR-2010-0037: Approving and Promulgation of Minnesota's Regional Haze State Implementation Plan), which rejects the Minnesota State Implementation Plan put forward by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) for upgrading taconite facilities, pending a public comment period.
"EPA's proposed Federal Implementation Plan contains a timeline that is not technically and economically feasible for some plants and could negatively impact thousands of jobs at a time when Minnesota is meeting its Regional Haze Reasonable Progress Goals. In times of such high unemployment, these are good paying jobs we cannot jeopardize," wrote Cravaack.
Just last week, In the August 21, 2012 opinion EME Homer City Generation v. EPA, the D.C. Circuit for the U.S. Court of Appeals struck down a sixth overreaching EPA rule, writing that " Congress did not authorize EPA to simply adopt limits on emissions as EPA deemed reasonable. Rather, Congress set up a federalism-based system of air pollution control." The decision marks the fifteenth time that a federal court has struck down an Obama Administration regulation.
"I request that EPA allow taconite plants to retain the flexibility needed to cost-effectively update their furnaces on a feasible time frame without endangering the stability of these operations," said Cravaack. "After conducting a volume of research on this subject, it is clear that the plan mapped out by the MPCA represents a nuanced approach -- smart regulation which takes into account the complex process of operation re-design and the time needed to maintain efficiency while complying with the regulations. Mining means too much to our state and its workers, and the greatest challenges to this industry remain the permitting process and overregulation coming out of Washington." he added.
Currently, permitting can take upwards of ten years, while duplicative and often overreaching ideologically-driven regulation is stalling economic growth. In fact, the Administration has proposed 3,118 regulations, with 167 considered economically significant (i.e. expected to have at least a $100 million impact on the economy). This represents a 52% increase since 2009.
Minnesota taconite mining provides tremendous benefits to Minnesota, with a nearly $1.8 billion annual benefit to the U.S. economy. According to a University of Minnesota Duluth study, 2.5 ancillary jobs are produced for every mining job.
Representative Cravaack serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee -- where he is Vice Chair of the Aviation Subcommittee -- the Homeland Security Committee, and the Science, Space and Technology Committee. The 8th Congressional District covers 18 counties in Northeast Minnesota.