NAM Regulatory Update: Regulatory Onslaught Disproportionately Hits Small Manufacturers

As part of an effort to bring more information about the regulatory and legal environment facing American manufacturers, NFPA is monitoring the newsfeed of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and will be bringing important updates like this to the attention of NFPA members.


Small businesses are a critical part of both manufacturing and the U.S. economy at large, but the federal government’s costly regulatory onslaught is putting their continued existence at risk, the NAM recently told House lawmakers.

What’s going on: “In the manufacturing sector, the majority of firms are small,” NAM Vice President of Domestic Policy Brandon Farris told the House Committee on Small Business during the hearing “Burdensome Regulations: Examining the Impact of EPA Regulations on Main Street.”

“These firms are the backbone of the manufacturing supply chain, often producing key components for larger firms … [but] manufacturing faces significant headwinds in the form of the cost, complexity and uncertainty associated with overreaching and burdensome federal regulations.”

Why it’s important: The seemingly endless conveyor belt of new federal rules for the industry is costing manufacturers “shocking” amounts, disproportionately imperiling manufacturers—small ones in particular, Farris continued.

He cited NAM data finding that:

The federal cost of regulations for manufacturers in 2022 was roughly $350 billion, a 25% increase from 2012; and

The average manufacturer in the U.S. pays $29,100 per employee per year to comply with federal rules, while for the average small manufacturer, that price is $50,100.

Where it’s coming from: Farris cited other recent examples of onerous federal rulemaking, including:

The Environmental Protection Agency’s recently finalized update to the National Ambient Air Quality Standard from 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air to 9 micrograms, a level approaching naturally occurring levels in many parts of the U.S., according to Farris, and one that “will make manufacturing in the U.S. less competitive globally”;

The Department of Energy’s recent freeze of liquefied natural gas export permits, which, given increased European reliance on U.S. LNG since the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine, risks “leav[ing] our allies [and] our manufacturers in the cold”; and

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s proposed climate disclosure rule, which “would increase manufacturers’ compliance costs dramatically, divert resources from job creation and growth, expose companies to increased liability, reveal proprietary and confidential information and ensnare wide swaths of the manufacturing supply chain.”

What must be done: Manufacturers aren’t asking legislators to cut corners, Farris said.

Rather, they are seeking “regulatory certainty that can guide investment decisions and ensure that this country’s economic competitiveness is not outpaced or outflanked or overtaken by nations that do not share our values.”

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