Labor Unions Join Fight Against EPA Regulations

This is a few days old, but it’s worth mentioning: “EPA Tangles With New Critic: Labor.”

The labor unions were supportive of the Waxman-Markey bill in the House, and are clearly much more aligned with Democrats than Republicans, especially given the collective bargaining issues that have emerged in the past month. However, they aren’t supportive of EPA’s current efforts to regulate mercury, carbon dioxide, etc. The article quotes a union leader:

“If the EPA issues regulations that cost jobs in Pennsylvania and Ohio, the Republicans will blast the President with it over and over,” says Stewart Acuff, chief of staff to the president of the Utility Workers Union of America. “Not just the President. Every Democratic [lawmaker] from those states.”

This is certainly true, and it would seem to counter the (rest of) left’s argument that none of these costs are trivial, that EPA regulations will actually create jobs, are a free lunch, etc.

I looked at the union membership by industry and noticed that utilities have a unionization rate of around 25%.  Being that significant portions of the utility industry are under the control of local governments and lack serious competition, they can pass most of their costs onto consumers in the form of rate hikes. As rates go up, people will use less energy, but they certainly can’t go without it completely. Reduced energy usage would drive down employment in the utility sector, but I can’t imagine it would do so in significant numbers.

Perhaps the unions do believe that the EPA regulations will be devastating towards Democrats in 2012? Or they are looking out for their own self-interest? Some of both?