[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]
E-M:/ An autoworker's view of EPA rules
Enviro-Mich message from firstname.lastname@example.org
This ran in Sunday's Flint Journal, 12 October 1997, H2, in the "Your Views"
section as an "If You Ask Me" column. The following is the unedited version.
"Autoworkers should support new EPA rules"
By Mike Keeler
As a former Local 599 Environmental Standing Committee member, I'm disgusted
by my Local Union President Art McGee's comments on environmental regulation and
the new Environmental Protection Agency rules. ("Flint UAW leader calls EPA
rules devastating," Thursday, Sept. 25, 1997.)
McGee's claim that steel, glass and rubber industries were driven off-shore
from unnecessary regulation, and that the automobile industry could be next, is
reactionary and untrue.
In fact, the industries' own inefficiencies and inability to compete in a
global market led to their demise. If McGee's claims were true, then how did
Japan take many of our steel jobs? Japan mandates its industries to produce more
goods with less energy and pollution than any other nation.
In calling the new EPA Clean Air Standards for ground ozone and soot
"unnecessary environmental protection," McGee sounds like an industry spin
doctor crying wolf. I wonder what makes McGee such an expert, when even the
well-respected American Lung Association contradicts his accusations. In the
early '90s, they sued the EPA to make the agency take a closer look at
acceptable levels of pollution. This forced the EPA to analyze thousands of
studies on ozone and soot, and it concluded the new health standards are needed.
The studies showed increases in mortality, hospital admissions and
emergency-room visits, as well as decreases in lung function and other forms of
respiratory problems in adults and children.
The EPA cost/benefit analysis studies found industries would spend between
$6.5 to $8.5 billion annually on the new health standards while returning health
benefits of up to $120 billion. So there would be a transfer of cost from the
general public to the polluting industries.
The National Association of Manufacturers has launched a sophisticated
multi-million dollar campaign against the EPA's findings and having to comply
with the tighter standards. They have attacked the science, calling it shaky
and incomplete. Industry estimates compliance will cost about $60 billion
annually. This is about seven times higher than the EPA's estimate. Industry
claims there will be job losses, higher electric bills, prohibition of barbecue
grills and lawn mowers. Their scare tactics have been spread through press
conferences, and ads in newspapers, radios and television.
Their lack of credibility is only exceeded by their apparent lack of ethics.
Looking back at the Clean Air debates in the '70s and '80s, we caught industry
in distortion after distortion. In 1979, General Motors advised Congress that
having to comply with Clean Air standards would cause "widespread inflation and
employee layoff." In 1990, oil companies fought having to change to cleaner
gasoline, predicting the cost would increase 3 cents to 5 cents per gallon, with
long lines at gas stations. The actual cost increase was a fraction of a cent.
The utility industry predicted acid rain controls to cost as much as $1,500 per
ton. Actual cost: $70 to $100 per ton.
In June, when President Clinton decided to endorse the new air standards, he
must have looked at the scientific and medical studies, and public comments
including 17,000 letters, 300 emails and 15,000 phonecalls. He must have been
advised of the polls showing Americans are in favor of stricter air standards.
Many of us at Buick city are worried about the future of the plant.
However, if we are asking the community to join with us to save our jobs, it is
only fair that we look out for the community as well. Walter Reuther, a
founding father of the UAW, once said that there is no use in negotiating time
off for union brothers and sisters if we are going to allow our air, rivers and
streams to be polluted so they can't enjoy them on their time off.
We need to focus on long-term quality-of-life issues that will benefit the
workforce and the greater community, not on reactionary rhetoric that serves
(Mike Keeler is a Buick City worker with a Bachelor of Science from Michigan
State University. He is currently serving on the Board of the Michigan Chapter
of the Sierra Club.)
ENVIRO-MICH: Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action. Archives at
Postings to: email@example.com For info, send email to
firstname.lastname@example.org with a one-line message body of "info enviro-mich"