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Familiar refrain of 'jobs threat' doesn't cut it in EPA attack

By Martin Leggett - 17 Mar 2011 16:28:0 GMT
Familiar refrain of 'jobs threat' doesn't cut it in EPA attack

As the political mud-slinging over role of the EPA, in preventing climate change, moved from Congress to the Senate, noises of support for the McConnell Amendment came from a predictable source on Tuesday. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) have sent an open letter to Senators, laying out their agreement with the amendment to kill EPA involvement in regulating greenhouse gases.

The Senate was scheduled to vote today on Sen. McConnell's Energy Tax Prevention Act, though that may now be punted to Tuesday next week. Congress has already passed the measure, 34-19, this Tuesday gone.

In their letter, the NAM have raised the familiar specter of job losses - saying that allowing the EPA to put forward measures to reduce CO2, and other greenhouse gases, will hurt the economy. They claim that EPA regulations will ''establish disincentives for the long-term investments necessary to grow jobs and expedite economic recovery.''

And for a nation that has indeed been hard-pressed economically, for the last couple of years, seeking to protect the economy and jobs can seem like pretty uncontentious aims. But the questions really are whose jobs are being protected - and what are the long term effects of adding yet more delay to measured to de-carbonize the US economy?

Because the absolute imperative for both the US economy, as well as the world economy, is to move as fast as possible towards a low-carbon future. Without a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the very basis of our current economic system is likely to be threatened by increasingly unruly climate change. That shift, however, need not be a jobs-loser - it can, in fact form the basis of a jobs revolution, moving people from old polluting industries into a blossoming green sector.

That's what makes the attempts to kill EPA powers that aid that transition smell so fishy. Perhaps it's not about jobs, it's about the entrenched interests of the power, oil and big manufacturing monoliths. For them, action on climate-change is a threat.

To defend from this threat, it appears all too easy to wrap themselves in the patriotic 'jobs' flag, and to see respected climate-science as conspiracy to chip away their power. And much of the assault on the EPA on the floor of Congress Tuesday was cloaked in climate-science denial.

But the accumulated evidence of thousands of scientists and studies has withstood the assault of those climate-science denialists. It is to be hoped that cooler heads of the Senate will see the McConnell measure for what it is.