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Obama Must Rein in EPA

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Last week, I got an email update from a political website declaring that lower unemployment is "good news for President Obama." I didn't need an email to tell me that.

But lowering the unemployment rate is more than just "good news" for the president. It will be the key to his second term.

I think former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee for president -- and will campaign for president as a better steward of the economy than President Obama.

Governor Romney is going to try and position himself as an experienced businessman, who knows how to run a company and turn a profit. And truth be told, Mr. Romney has made a lot of money in the private sector and President Obama has not. Hence, this line of attack against President Obama may be effective.

The best chance that President Obama has to win reelection -- and deflect Mr. Romney's attacks -- is to demonstrate that he can also run an economy and get Americans working again. The only way to do that is to create jobs.

I commend President Obama for managing our economy under tough times. Lord knows the economy was in the tank when he took office and Congressional Republicans oppose anything he supports, no matter what. So, last week's job numbers are a welcome sign for Democrats and a testament to Mr. Obama's stewardship. But, next November is a long time from now so we need to keep creating jobs.

One area where I think the president needs to take a stronger stand, in terms of job creation, is to try and rein in the EPA.

In the last few years, the EPA has taken aim at industries that form backbone of working America. This includes chemical companies, automobile manufactures (fuel economy standards), and most of all the oil and gas industry.

Being from Mississippi, I know how critical a vibrant oil and gas companies are. In my state alone, the industry either directly or indirectly employs nearly 100,000 people. Along the entire Gulf Coast more than 2.5 million jobs are a result of oil and gas activity.

There are oil and gas jobs all over the country. In Pennsylvania, more than a quarter of a million, good paying jobs are tied to oil and gas production. Thousands of families in that state rely on the energy sector to pay the bills, put food on the table and keep kids in college.

But the constant threat of EPA regulation, particularly on greenhouse gases, has some sectors of the oil and gas industry, including refiners, on edge. The regulatory uncertainly causes companies to freeze - putting expansion and job creation on hold as they grapple with the prospective of costly carbon control measures.

Some oil refineries on the East Coast are actually shutting their doors. Conoco Philips and Sunoco have announced they are idling three Northeast refineries in the suburban Philadelphia area. According to the Steelworkers union, this could result in the loss of twenty thousand jobs!

I am also concerned because if we make it tougher for oil companies to produce and refine petroleum in the United States, we simply import it from places like the Middle East and Canada. Hence, we finance jobs abroad and not at home.

Let's be clear. Like all Americans, I would like to reduce our dependence on oil and gas. But until new technologies exist in a commercially viable way, we have to live in the real world. This means if we are going to burn fossil fuels (because we have no choice) I think we should get those fuels domestically. The EPA means well, but killing American jobs during a slow growth recovery will not reduce our consumption of oil, or help get President Obama reelected. It will kill jobs here and help elect Mitt Romney. I oppose both.