Honadel: Nonsensical Rules Block Wisconsin Energy Jobs
State representative says Wisconsin needs to reevaulate both state and federal regulations that may be well-intentioned, but have serious negative effects.
Editor's Note: the following editoral was written by State Rep. Mark Honadel.
Jumpstarting our economy is priority number one this election year. American energy manufacturers are poised to do precisely that, which is good news for Wisconsin considering that our state is the largest manufacturing-intensive economy in the U.S. Our manufacturers, who handle everything from food processing and chemical manufacturing to plastics and forest products, consumed more energy than any other sector in the state in 2011.
This is why it’s imperative that leaders in Madison as well as Washington pursue energy policies that promote and sustain the development of homegrown, affordable energy. Otherwise, our energy-intensive manufacturing industry will face a severe disadvantage at home and abroad.
A strong manufacturing industry is vital for Wisconsin – as it is for the rest of the country. As of 2008, manufacturing accounted for one-fifth of the state’s overall economy. Wisconsin is among the top ten states in terms of exports, with manufacturing contributing 94% of our exported products. The vitality of Wisconsin’s manufacturing industry is also reflected through its workforce. Wisconsin’s 430,000 manufacturing workers, on average, earn more than the state average.
The federal bureaucracy, however, has a funny way of ignoring progress and stifling growth with rules and regulations. While refining, petrochemical, and oil and gas business have managed to reduce overall emissions by 71 percent, federal regulators continue to hand down more rules that impose substantial costs on businesses and consumers that will vastly outweigh any potential environmental benefits.
Rising regulatory costs make it harder for our state’s energy producers and manufacturers to stay in business – threatening jobs, security, and the long-term health of our state and national economy.
One thing is clear: manufacturing, being one of the most energy-intensive sectors of our economy, is directly impacted by expensive energy policies. It’s no surprise, then, that if energy bills skyrocket, jobs will be lost. Electricity can account for as much as 20 percent of a manufacturer’s operating costs.
Given that coal supplies 63 percent of Wisconsin’s electricity, the outlook for more affordable energy in the future is uncertain. A recent analysis by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity found more than 200 coal plants are scheduled to shut down "due, at least in part, to regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency." These plant closures carry significant consequences, and will offline what amounts to the entire electric supply of Ohio.
Common-sense Americans are well aware of the consequences of too much regulation and red tape. In a national poll of likely voters conducted by MWR Strategies, 87 percent of respondents said the government should allow enough time to determine if existing regulations are effective before adding any more. Eighty-nine percent of respondents displayed a deep skepticism toward the federal bureaucracy, saying it does a poor job of thinking through the unintended consequences of regulations.
Another 77 percent of respondents in the survey said the federal government should adopt a more reasonable approach to regulation, while 65 percent agreed that federal red tape results in more costs than benefits.
Wisconsin has a strong place in the nation’s energy economy. But in order to preserve it, we need to reevaulate both state and federal regulations that may be well-intentioned, but have serious negative effects that are causing needless job losses, driving up energy costs, and stifling America’s ability to compete.
Rep. Mark Honadel (R-WI) represents Wisconsin's 21st Assembly District.