Emissions and the economy

I’ve been wondering about the economic effects of regulation. According to conservative political orthodoxy, government regulation is strangling economic recovery. These restrictions on what companies can do and how they do it are simply bad for business. Take cement manufacturing emissions regulations, for example. The EPA is trying to impose stricter regulation of these emissions, claiming public health is at risk. The cement industry and its political supporters say Washington is overreaching and killing jobs because some plants will have to shut down. They are fighting the regulations every way they can.

But those plants are old and dirty, says the EPA. Their toxic emissions are a clear hazard to public health. They make people sick and even cause premature death.

I guess we’ll always have some tension between the regulators and the regulated, but the tension can be reduced. Diesel engines have emissions, too, as well all know. EPA’s Tier 3 restrictions are just coming into place, and Tier 4 is only a couple of years away.

Last week at the unveiling of Cummins’s big new engine, the QSK95, in Indiana, there was a lot of talk about emissions. One of the executives declared, “a safer, cleaner environment is a company goal.” He said that Cummins’ approach was not to fight the government. “We decided to take the emissions challenge and turn it into an advantage for the customer.”

And if it can provide that advantage, it gets the customer’s business, so Cummins essentially sees emissions regulations as the right thing to do and good for business.

I’m glad I work in the commercial marine industry and not the cement business.

About the author

Bruce Buls

With a degree in English literature from the University of Washington (Go Dawgs!), journalism experience at the once-upon-a-time Seattle P-I, and at-sea experience as a commercial fisherman in Washington and Alaska, Bruce Buls has forged a career in commercial marine trade journalism, including stints at Alaska Fishermen’s Journal and National Fisherman, WorkBoat’s sister publications. Bruce spent 16 years as WorkBoat's technical editor before retiring in May 2015. He lives on Puget Sound’s Whidbey Island, about 20 miles north of Seattle (go 'Hawks!).

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