Recently, I've heard from many constituents expressing their frustration about the news that American Electric Power would close five power plants, lose 6,000 megawatts of capacity and eliminate 600 positions to comply with proposed Environmental Protection Agency rules to further limit emissions and toxic chemicals released by power plants.
AEP's announcement comes as sobering news during a time when Ohio's economy is struggling to restart. In fact, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity estimates EPA's proposals would result in 53,000 Ohio job losses during the next decade, increase electric bills by 13 percent, putting Ohioans out of work, increasing home energy prices and driving up the cost of doing business. For a state that's lost almost 350,000 manufacturing jobs during the past decade, these rule changes could continue to hurt the economy.
AEP's announcement is a symbol of what's going on across all sectors. Since 2009, the Obama administration has worked to implement scores of new regulations produced by EPA and other federal agencies. Most Americans think commonsense regulations can play a legitimate role in government. For instance, the Federal Aviation Administration's regulations that set minimum distances between airplanes while in the air help to prevent collisions. However, it has been a different story during the past two and a half years. AEP argues it is EPA's unrealistic timeframe for implementing the regulations that will lead to the premature job losses.
The proposed regulations cover all sorts of areas, some you probably have heard of, some of you might not -- and some of which a first appear rather harmless. For example, the EPA's new regulations on greenhouse gas emissions only come after Congress refused to pass cap-and-trade legislation supported by the Obama administration. During the cap-and-trade debate, the administration threatened to unilaterally regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act in an attempt to force legislators to support cap-and-trade legislation in lieu of much worse EPA regulations. Despite the broad range of views on cap-and-trade legislation, many of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle agreed that it is Congress's role to enact such regulations because of the major impacts they could have on the economy. Shockingly, the EPA has not performed an analysis of the economic impacts of the greenhouse gas regulations. However, one private sector analysis concluded that just the uncertainty alone created by the regulations could cost $25 billion to $75 billion in lost capital investment and between 500,000 to 1.5 million jobs by 2014.
What has been alarming during the past two and a half years is the mixture of regulations so overarching they affect large sectors of the economy combined with the large number of controversial regulations often made unilaterally by unelected bureaucrats. Unfortunately, the new, restrictive rules aren't unique to the EPA; regulations are being implemented by federal agencies across all sectors with little thought of their impact. For example, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson accused businesses of describing "doomsday" scenarios when describing the impact of the proposed rules. However, AEP has described tangible effects that will have a massive impact on Ohio's economy because 84 percent of Ohio's electricity comes from coal. A study commissioned by the Small Business Administration found that annual regulatory compliance costs in the United States hit $1.75 trillion in 2008, which exceeds the total amount of income taxes, $1.49 trillion, collected that year.
The president argues that in order to move our economy forward, large companies should be spending their money hiring workers and creating jobs. Companies argue the uncertainty created by proposed regulations, tax changes and federal budget issues make it difficult to anticipate future needs and leave them unable to prepare for the future.
This is something we in Congress hear again and again. Since Republicans have gained the majority, we've been holding hearings about job creation and listening to employers talk about the environment they need to grow, expand and hire. I've cosponsored a bill written by Congressman Geoff Davis: the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act, or the REINS Act. The bill would prevent unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats from adopting major rules without consultation with the legislative branch. Specifically, the bill would require Congress to take an up-or-down, stand-alone vote and for the president to sign-off on all new major rules before they can be enforced on the American people, job-creating small businesses or state and local governments. Major rules are those that have an annual economic impact of more than $100 million or more. IN 2010, 100 major rules were finalized by the administration.
The REINS Act would improve the regulatory process and encourage agencies and Congress to work together to create regulations that implement the original intent of the law. In addition, this would prevent the administration, regardless of party, from bypassing Congress to implement regulations that further their political agenda. Members of Congress then could be held accountable for the results of the legislation they pass.
The constitutional responsibility of Congress to make the laws would be strengthened by no longer permitting unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats to make major decisions. Creating a sense of stability for employers will help create an environment where businesses can grow, expand, and hire, will help Ohio's economy get back on track.