Guest Comment: EPA Keeps Moving the Goal Posts on the Lumber Industry
December 20, 2011 - 12:02 pm
In the lumber industry, we don’t expect the work to be easy. With hefty overhead costs, expensive equipment and growing competition, it’s a tough line of business. But it’s alarming that the biggest challenge of all comes from lawmakers in Washington who should be working to encourage business, not restrict it.
I own and operate Beal Lumber Company, a hardwood saw mill in Little Mountain, SC. My family has been in the business for three generations. In that time, we’ve seen a lot of changes in the industry, both good and bad. But in recent years, the increase in federal regulations has been so burdensome it threatens my ability to keep running my business effectively.
Like most in the lumber trade, I take a lot of pride in protecting the environment. That’s why I closely adhere to emission standards, support sustainable logging practices, and exhaustively maintain my equipment. It’s not cheap, and the expense of keeping up with it all cuts out of my bottom line.
Yet, despite what we do to ensure protective measures are in place, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal organizations keep changing and increasing already stringent regulations to a point it hurts our ability to operate. For example, recently I needed to replace trucks and machinery that were close to being outdated. Unfortunately, all of the models available to meet my demands would require tens-of-thousands of dollars of additional emissions upgrades and extra maintenance costs to comply with new EPA emissions standards. Instead of upgrading when I needed, I had to wait two years using decrepit equipment before it made sense to invest in new trucks.
The damage of excessive regulations isn’t unique to my industry. Small business owners from across the country express the same sentiments. Like any business owner, my company is only as healthy as my customers and suppliers. It’s no wonder then that the effect of unnecessary federal rules resonate throughout the economy. Lawmakers in Washington should empathize with us, and focus on giving us a hand up rather than levying unpractical requirements.