Worried about job losses, Big Labor is demanding that the EPA soften new rules aimed at pollution associated with coal-fired power plants.
It was one thing when those greedy tools of the rich, Republicans and conservatives, stood in opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as well as its tightening of ozone and mercury standards in violation of sound science and congressional intent.
After all, they were interested only in ravaging the earth for fun and profit.
Now unions and some of the Democrats they support are demanding the EPA be reined in. As we’ve learned from Wisconsin, hell hath no fury like a union in fear of losing jobs, benefits and, most important, union dues.
Recently a coalition of labor groups wrote in a letter to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson that imposing the new EPA regulations would lead to “significant job losses around the country.”
An analysis by the United Mine Workers union said that putting coal mining in the EPA’s cross hairs could put at risk as many as 250,000 jobs in electoral-vote-rich Rust Belt states.
The United Steelworkers union wrote in an August letter that “tens of thousands” of jobs at factories whose employees are represented by the union “will be imperiled” by the EPA’s regulatory onslaught.
Democrats — already nervous about 2012, when 23 of their senators are up for re-election — have joined the fray. One of the 23, Missouri’s Claire McCaskill, joined some of her colleagues in a letter to the EPA complaining about an agency proposal to tighten the definition of unhealthy ozone levels.
“The people in my state want clean air and clean water, but farmers and businesses in our state don’t want nonsensical regulations that harm their ability to make a living,” she said in a subsequent interview.
It didn’t help when a report from bank Credit Suisse last September said the EPA’s mercury rule alone could lead to the closure of nearly 18% of the nation’s coal-fired generating capacity. This rule is based in part on claims of linkages between mercury and autism that have been thoroughly debunked.
Besides jobs, political considerations come into play as unions seek to leverage their vast support for Democratic candidates into keeping those who participate in the reciprocal back-scratching that goes on between unions, and Democrats seek to keep their friends in office. The environment can wait.