The FINANCIAL — On August 24 in Columbus, the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio Black Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce welcomed central Ohio community and business leaders to a public forum exploring the economic impact of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed ground-level ozone rule on Ohio’s communities and economy.
“As America continues to grapple with a sluggish economy, metropolitan areas across the country need smart and innovative policy solutions that spur economic growth and development. Unfortunately, the EPA’s proposed ozone rule would only slowdown the economic recovery even further. We cannot expect small and minority-owned businesses to continue shouldering costly regulatory burdens and still prove resilient,” NBCC president and CEO Harry C. Alford said. “Today’s forum provided an opportunity for local leaders from across central Ohio to gather together to discuss the effect this regulation will have on their communities and local businesses. Their sentiment can be described as bleak, at best.”
“While Columbus has in the last couple of months reached attainment for the 2008 ozone standard, other parts of our state remain in non-attainment. Now is not the time for the EPA to move the goal posts by piling on more burdensome environmental regulations. Our communities need policies that encourage job growth and investment to ensure a full economic recovery,” stated Rafeal Underwood, president and CEO for the Ohio State Black Chamber of Commerce.
“Ohio leaders in government and business should have the chance to meet the existing ozone standards before the EPA mandates unnecessary and unattainable levels. Existing national efforts to reduce emissions are an environmental and business success story,” William Kovacs, senior vice president, Environment, Technology & Regulatory Affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce added. “Under tightened standards, Ohio small businesses will likely halt expansion plans and outside development will look to other regions. Those most at risk of being denied future job opportunities are the eight million Ohioans living in urban areas that will be disproportionately impacted by efforts in high population areas to decrease ground ozone levels.”
The EPA’s proposal would reduce Ohio’s Gross State Product by over $23 billion from 2017 to 2040, result in almost 23,000 jobs lost annually, cost each household $450 per year, and come with $840 million in compliance costs, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Also participating in the forum today were Khary Cauthen, senior director of Federal Relations at the American Petroleum Institute; Steve Hightower, president and CEO at Hightowers Petroleum Co.; Jenn Klein, president of the Ohio Chemistry Technology Council; and former Congressman Al Wynn (D-Md.), senior director at Greenberg Traurig, LLP.
Alford concluded, “This regulation would stall economic development in communities from coast to coast, with urban areas in particular coming out on the losing end. While minorities find President Obama’s environmental record admirable, they clearly understand the focus needs to be on jobs and growth. And the ozone rule doesn’t fit that bill.”