The Obama administration has repeatedly said job creation is a top priority, but apparently the memo seems to have missed the bureaucrats at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
This became evident when EPA Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus testified Thursday before an Environment and Energy subcommittee hearing that his agency does not take jobs into account when it issues new regulations.
“We have not directly taken a look at jobs in the proposal,” Stanislaus said, referring to a regulation that would govern industries that recycle coal ash and other fossil fuel byproducts.
Coal ash is commonly used to make concrete stronger and longer lasting, make wallboard more durable and improve the quality of roofing shingles.
Stanislaus made his comments in response to questioning by Colorado GOP Rep. Cory Gardner looking into whether the EPA is complying with a recent presidential executive order and considering jobs in its regulatory regime. The EPA issued a April 30, 2010 statement in the appendix of its regulatory impact analysis for proposed regulation under the Resources and Recovery Act (RCRA) of coal ash.
That statement said: “The [regulatory impact assessment] does not include either qualitative or quantitative estimation of the potential effects of the proposed rule on economic productivity, economic growth, employment, job creation or international economic competitiveness.”
The statement contradicts Executive Order 13563, which President Obama signed in January requiring rules to take job creation into account when federal agencies issue new rules.
Gardner pressed Stanislaus as to whether or not EPA had done a direct economic analysis on how the rule would affect jobs, to which Stanislaus replied saying that EPA had not included jobs in its cost-benefit analysis of the rule.
“Do you feel an economic analysis that does not include the complete picture on jobs, is that a full economic analysis?” Gardner asked. “I think it is really a yes or no question.
“To me, I don’t see how you can talk about economic analysis without talking about jobs… and you said that you would not promulgate a rule where the costs would exceed the benefits,” Gardner continued. “But if you are not taking into account jobs, I don’t see how that goes.”
Gardner’s line of questioning had Stanislaus visibly dumbfounded, and he repeatedly told the congressman he would have to get back to him with the answers to his questions.
“I’d like to see a list of all of the rules that you have proposed that haven’t taken into account jobs,” Gardner said. “We need to know if the EPA considers jobs in their analysis and whether you have, and whether EPA’s position is to consider jobs when it does an economic analysis.”
Stanislaus then replied saying EPA considers jobs in all of its economic analysis, but that the form of the analysis is driven by the requirements rules that are under consideration.
The EPA official’s testimony has generated negative reactions from pro-business advocates who say Stanislaus’s testimony shows the agency is out of touch with reality and is indifferent to job creation.
“A so-called economic analysis of the impact of a government regulation without even measuring its impact on jobs shows just how out of touch with reality a bureaucrat can become,” said Let Freedom Ring President Colin Hanna. “The testimony of EPA Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus is destined to become a You Tube classic. No wonder this administration has been so ineffectual in reducing unemployment.”
While Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist called the YouTube video of Stanislaus’s testimony “painful to watch” because it shows what he sees as the Obama administration insensitivity to job creation.
“The Obama administration official had to admit that they don’t even measure how many jobs their new regulations kill,” Norquist said. “They don’t know. They don’t measure it. They obviously don’t care.”
But the problem actually could transcend party because the EPA has issued regulations for years that do not take jobs or other economic issues into account during both Republican and Democratic administrations.
“Congress is responsible to some degree for the EPA’s lack of direct focus on the costs on jobs,” said Heritage Foundation expert Diane Katz. “To be fair, they are only required to assess the direct costs [of their regulations], and jobs can fall into the indirect costs category.
“But all and all, it is quite evident that EPA doesn’t consider jobs a direct consequence of regulation, and that’s problematic.”
The subcommittee is considering legislation introduced by West Virginia Republican Rep. David McKinley that would prevent EPA from regulating these industries and rollback the agency’s unprecedented effort to regulate these industries.
EPA officials could not be reached for comment.
WATCH: EPA Admits Jobs Don’t Matter: