A better way to protect the environment, jobs


We need smart regulations and we need reasonable laws to protect health and the environment and prevent dishonest business practices. Most everyone acknowledges that. But we also must make sure that the costs of those regulations are justified by the benefits. The reality is that many federal regulations are more extensive in scope, more expensive and more unpredictable than is necessary. When I visit a factory or small business in Ohio, one of the complaints I hear most often from employers is that there are too many costly and unnecessary regulations that limit their ability to invest in their business, create more jobs, and increase wages.

Over the past eight years, the federal government has issued nearly 4,000 new rules and regulations every year. It’s been hard to keep up. And those regulations aren’t cheap. Regulations finalized in 2016 alone cost our economy 120 million hours of paperwork, equivalent to more than 57,000 full-time jobs. The EPA alone finalized 29,000 regulations over the last eight years. Twenty-nine of those regulations had a more than $1 billion impact on our economy each, and another 100 had an impact of more than $100 million each.

This year, Congress has acted to repeal more than a dozen costly regulations that the previous administration attempted to put in place over the last six months. Repealing these regulations has saved the economy $65 billion in regulatory costs and about 45 million hours of paperwork.

One of the debates Congress had was whether to repeal a proposed Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regulation put out in the last two months of the Obama Administration intended to limit methane emissions from oil and gas production on federal lands. The Enquirer recently published an op-ed on this topic which did not tell the full story. I believe BLM should be taking actions to reduce and minimize methane waste – but I wanted to be sure it was done that in a way that wouldn’t shut down existing production, especially by smaller producers.

I studied the issue, including taking to experts who both supported and opposed repealing this regulation. I learned that the Department of the Interior was planning to rescind the rule itself if Congress did not act to repeal it, and they had no specific plans to otherwise address methane emissions, which was likely to result in years of litigation but little progress on reducing the venting or flaring of methane.

I also talked to Ohioans who would be impacted by the regulation – Ohio-based oil and gas operators that would bear the brunt of its cost. What I learned was that as written, this proposed regulation would have forced small independent operators in Ohio to close existing wells and cost jobs for Ohioans. I also became convinced that there’s a better way to do this with a balanced approach.

I support the goal of reducing methane waste and I do believe that the Interior Department has the authority and responsibility to act on this issue. That’s why I worked to secure a commitment from the Secretary of the Interior to act if Congress repealed the existing, overly-broad regulation. I worked with the Interior Department, and some on both sides of the issue, to come up with a series of steps the BLM could take. On May 1, I sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke requesting that the department go on record and pledge to take these significant steps to reduce methane waste without substantial impact on job creation. Secretary Zinke responded by committing in writing to taking these steps to reduce methane waste.

Because of that commitment, I decided to vote to repeal this methane regulation. But the vote to overturn it in the U.S. Senate failed, so this regulation is still in place for now. As promised, however, the Interior Department has vowed to rescind this regulation. I suspect we will now see lots of litigation but a little action on methane.

I believe our energy policy must be balanced. We can protect our environment and conserve taxpayer resources while still protecting the jobs and livelihoods of middle-class families. And I know that because I’ve done that. For example, I’ve authored legislation which is now law that promotes energy efficiency, supports our national parks and cleans up Lake Erie, delivering results that found common ground between these two objectives. As we move forward, I will continue to fight for balanced policies that both protect Ohio jobs and protect our environment.

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http://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2017/08/web1_Rob_Portman_official_portrait_112th_Congress-1.jpg
THEIR VIEW

By Rob Portman

Guest Columnist

Portman tours Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant

U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) toured the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon, Ohio and met with local union representatives and Piketon leadership.

Portman has led efforts in the U.S. Senate to secure funding for the Piketon facility, ensure the decontamination and decommissioning work continues, and protect these jobs. Today, he received an update on the work being done at the site and discuss how he can continue to help.

“The Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant is Piketon’s biggest employer, and many here in Piketon, like those I met with today, have worked for decades to provide our military and our energy sector with critical natural resources,” Portman said. “The cleanup and redevelopment of this plant is critical for jobs, economic development, and the future of southern Ohio.”

(“Portman tours Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant,” Staff. Portsmouth Daily Times. June 4, 2017)

Sen. Rob Portman is a Terrace Park Republican. This column was originally published in the Cincinnati Enquirer.