The FINANCIAL — The National Black Chamber of Commerce, the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on September 2 welcomed Pennsylvania community and business leaders to a public symposium discussing the potential employment and economic impacts of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed ground-level ozone rule.
This forum comes on the heels of EPA’s announcement that Pittsburgh and Philadelphia failed to meet the 2008 ozone standard by the July 2015 deadline, but qualify for a one-year extension, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“As world markets shuttered amidst instability in China, the President reminded us that the American economy is resilient and the backbone of the global market. Unfortunately, the EPA’s proposed ozone rule threatens that resiliency, found in our urban centers like Pittsburgh, by bringing the economic recovery to a halt,” NBCC president and CEO Harry C. Alford said. “Today’s forum was an opportunity for local business owners and elected officials to discuss the effects of this regulation and how to continue our fight to keep EPA’s assault at bay.”
“Pittsburgh has waged a hard fought comeback over the last thirty years, and we still have a lot of ground to make-up as a result of the 2008 downturn. Our local leaders understand that we need policies that encourage hiring and investment to ensure a full comeback for the entire city,” stated Doris Carson Williams, president and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania.
“The EPA should not move the goal post with an unattainable mandate that will slow economic growth opportunities,” added William Kovacs, senior vice president, Environment, Technology & Regulatory Affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “The Pittsburgh comeback story is one of environmental and business success, but this new proposal could halt the city’s progress as businesses are forced to slow expansion plans and outside development looks to other regions. Those most at risk of being denied future job opportunities are the residents of Pennsylvania’s urban areas, like Pittsburgh, that will be disproportionately impacted by efforts in high population areas to decrease ground ozone levels.”
The EPA’s proposal would reduce Pennsylvania’s Gross State Product by over $98 billion from 2017 to 2040, result in over 101,000 jobs lost annually, cost each household $1,420 per year, and come with $109 billion in compliance costs, according to a recent analysis by the National Association of Manufacturers.
Also participating in the forum today were State Rep. Jake Wheatley (D-Allegheny); Gene Barr, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry; Robert Agbede, president of Chester Engineers; Howard Feldman, director at the American Petroleum Institute; Mark Kempic, president of Columbia Gas; and Morgan O’Brien, president of Peoples Natural Gas.
Alford concluded, “Urban areas like Pittsburgh are on the losing end of these regulations. And while many in the minority community believe President Obama’s environmental efforts to be admirable, they also understand the focus must be on creating and keeping jobs that build a strong future. The ozone rule won’t accomplish that.”