At the start of 2011, as the energy corporations, the US Chamber of Commerce, and the Tea Party right launched their assault on environmental protection and the EPA, it looked like public opinion and organized labor might just be swept along. Instead, much of the public and the labor movement have rallied in support of EPA and environmental regulation. The result has been a standoff on legislation to decimate EPA authority to protect the environment. But whether it will be possible to prevent the backdoor effort to gut the EPA by cutting its budget hangs in the balance.
In a March 14 article titled "EPA Tangles With New Critic: Labor," the Wall Street Journal reported that "several unions" are demanding that the EPA "soften new regulations" that "could put thousands of jobs in jeopardy." It noted an analysis by the United Mine Workers saying that proposed EPA regulations could put 250,000 jobs at risk in the utility, mining and railroad sectors. It cited a letter from a coalition including Boilermakers, Mine Workers, and Utility Workers to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson saying that a a tightening of standards on ground-level ozone would "have a significant impact on our states' workers."
The article also described a "delicate alliance" developing between the Boilermakers, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and American Electric Power Company, "one of the nation's top coal burners." It described a meeting held at request of the CEO of AEP with the president if the IBEW and Rep. Fred Upton, the new chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and a leading opponent of the EPA that discussed "concerns about the impact of new EPA regulations."