It’s practically an article of faith among conservatives: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations to control greenhouse-gas emissions will kill jobs. Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) is trying to derail the EPA rules with the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, all because, he said on the House floor, the rules “will lead to higher costs for the coal industry, the oil industry, and the natural gas industry that comprise 85 percent of America’s energy mix, burdening both individuals and businesses and, most importantly of all, destroying jobs.”
But a new study says it just ain’t so. In fact, the report, prepared by James Heintz of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and released by the pro-environment coalition Ceres, says the effect would be quite the opposite. It asserts that if the EPA follows through on Clean Air Act rules as expected in 2011, investments in pollution controls and new generating capacity would create 1.46 million jobs, or about 290,000 jobs on average in each of the next five years.
The study focused on the Easter and Midwestern regions of the country, where pending and proposed regulations would most powerfully be felt. There, the study said, “Constructing such new capacity and installing pollution controls will create a wide array of skilled, high-paying jobs, including engineers, project managers, electricians, boilermakers, pipefitters, millwrights and iron workers.”
The study is particularly bullish about the job-creating impact in five states: Illinois, (122,695), Virginia, (123,014), Tennessee, (113,138), North Carolina (76,966) and Ohio (76,240). Some coal plants would close due to the regulations, but the study said any jobs lose there would be overwhelmed by gains from new investment.
The study gives some historical perspective on environmental regulation, citing a nonpartisan Office of Management and Budget study that found every $1 invested to comply with the Clean Air Act since 1970 has yielded between $4 and $8 in economic benefits – and that average electricity rates have been flat “even as utilities have invested hundreds of billions of dollars to cut their air pollution emissions.”
A PDF of the complete study is available on the Ceres website here.