Sessions, Aderholt visit IHP
By Bart Moss
For the FCT
United States Senator Jeff Sessions and Congressman Robert Aderholt visited one of Franklin County’s leading employers, International Hearth Products (IHP) this past week.
Due to scheduling conflicts, Sessions and Aderholt made separate visits, but both came at the behest of company officials concerned about a new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that has the potential to cost their industry several million dollars and hundreds of jobs.
According to the EPA, the new rules – set to go into effect in February 2015 – are supposed to reduce air emissions from wood burning and pellet-fueled stoves as well as fireplace inserts, which are products produced by IHP.
IHP officials said they are absolutely committed to clear air and producing compliant products, but the new rule goes beyond the intended goals and could prove very costly to the industry.
Mark Klein, president and CEO of IHP, said in a statement that while the company welcomes efforts by the EPA to update standards for the hearth industry, he is concerned that the proposed rule would substantially increase the prices of their products without any proven benefits.
“In spite of its best intentions, the EPA proposes particulate emission limits that are not cost effective,” Klein said.
“The changes will require unjustifiable increases in product cost that the market might not be able to bear. As a result, it will threaten jobs and burden consumers with unnecessary costs for products.”
For his part, Sessions says he is committed to doing whatever he can to reign in the EPA and prevent job-killing regulations.
“Everyone wants to do what is right. We all want clean air and clean water. There is no doubt about this fact,” Sessions said during his visit on Wednesday.
“What we don’t want is regulations that kill job creation and, in many cases, kill current jobs over unproven theories.
“I intend to do whatever I can to prevent the EPA from killing any more Alabama jobs.”
Sessions went on to say he was limited in what he could do as long as the Democratic Party holds the majority in the United States Senate and President Barack Obama occupies the White House.
“If we [the Republicans] can win control of the Senate in November, we will have more power because we will control the committees and can bring more attention to these matters,” Sessions said.
“However, we will still have the threat of a filibuster and presidential veto hanging over us.”
The Alabama delegation also got a tour of the recently expanded IHP facility and got to see how one of IHP’s fireplaces was produced from start to finish.
“This is a very impressive operation at IHP,” Sessions said after his tour.
“The company provides a great product to homeowners all over the country. They also provide hundreds of jobs to local residents. We want to continue to do whatever we can to help companies like IHP expand and also bring new jobs to Franklin County and northwest Alabama.”
Russellville Mayor David Grissom and city councilman Gary Cummings greeted Sessions on Wednesday and Aderholt on Thursday and accompanied them on the tour of IHP.
“I appreciate Senator Sessions and Representative Aderholt taking the time to visit Innovative Hearth Products in Russellville,” Grissom said.
“This expansion is great for our city, our county, and our people. I know that they were both impressed with the facility and I appreciate their efforts to help IHP continue to create jobs in our city.”