Green Bay Innovation Group

Wisconsin Paper Council President: EPA air rule needlessly hurts Wisconsin’s paper industry

Wisconsin Paper Council President: EPA air rule needlessly hurts Wisconsin’s paper industry

State and national policy in recent years has focused on strengthening our manufacturing sector and bringing back good-paying jobs for Americans.

Scott Suder
Scott Suder

But this effort is being undermined as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently passed incredibly stringent air quality regulations. The new rule will have significant and adverse impacts on manufacturing, including Wisconsin’s paper industry, a major driver of the local economy.

The EPA has lowered the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for PM 2.5 (fine particulate matter). But the agency’s new rule does little to address some of the largest sources of particulate matter, and it fails to acknowledge a decades-long trend of declining ambient air levels of fine particulate matter.

The regulation is unlikely to meaningfully impact the amount of particulate matter in the air. But it will undoubtedly undermine efforts to grow and bring back American manufacturing jobs from overseas. That’s bad news for our country, and even worse for Wisconsin, whose manufacturing sector accounts for 18.6% of the state’s total economic output, including the forest products industry.

It’s important the EPA craft sustainable regulations that not only protect public health and our environment, but also create opportunities for job growth and economic development. But the EPA’s rule does neither.

To start, fine particulate matter is emitted by a variety of sources. Major emitters include wildfires, road dust and exhaust fumes. These sources account for nearly 84% of all emissions of fine particulate matter. Yet the EPA’s rule does not account for these sources, nor their public health impact.

Instead, this shortsighted rule incorrectly takes aim at industry partners such as the forest products industry, which is helping to grow domestic manufacturing jobs and deliver lasting, meaningful sustainability. By setting the new limit near background levels, the forest products industry will not be able to get necessary permits to further curb emissions, expand operations or, in some cases, even operate in the country.

Wisconsin will swiftly feel the impact of the EPA’s decision. The forest products industry employs over 50,000 residents, contributing to over $21 billion in annual economic output and an estimated $226 million in state and local taxes. Paper product manufacturing in Wisconsin has been growing fast in recent years — but the EPA’s proposal will severely imperil this progress.

It’s hard to understand why the EPA would create such misguided regulations and undermine President Joe Biden’s promise to grow and bring back American manufacturing jobs. It’s even more confusing when you consider the forest products industry’s critical role in addressing America’s affordable housing shortage and producing sustainable paper-based packaging.

The Wisconsin Paper Council and the American Forest and Paper Association have worked together to share these concerns with both the EPA and The White House. We continue to work with both democrat and republican policymakers from throughout the country, including Governors from Wisconsin, Kentucky and Kansas who have questioned the logic of this rule and are asking why EPA has not proposed an implementation plan for its new rule. We also continue to request realistic modeling and permitting tools, grounded by sound scientific data, to allow important industry projects to proceed.

It will take the EPA working with states and industry at least three years to develop and execute a workable plan. This should include modernization projects that help our industry curb emissions and improve efficiency, although the rule does not currently include such a plan.

We are not alone in expressing concern over the EPA’s proposal. Unions and trade groups from the forest products industry have also called on the administration to support practical regulations that protect our health and environment while promoting economic growth and development.

The EPA’s rule for fine particulate matter directly threatens America’s manufacturing. This is a bad policy that will curtail production and lead to the loss of good paying jobs — many in rural areas — without having a meaningful impact toward improving public health.

The Biden administration should ensure that our manufacturing sector and the hardworking Americans supporting it stay strong in the long term.

We urge policymakers to do everything in their power to curb the harmful impacts of these new regulations.

For more information about the new EPA rule, call the Wisconsin Paper Council at 608-467-6025 or email them at

Scott Suder is President of the Wisconsin Paper Council and is a former Wisconsin State Legislator

Green Bay Innovation Group

Bringing Green Bay Companies Together. Green Bay Innovation Group is committed to building an authentic networking experience where innovation can thrive.

Contact Information

Phone: 608-698-3333
Subscribe to Newsletter

© 2021 Green Bay Innovation Group