(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—A recent Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) report, titled Debunking the “Job Killer” Myth; How Pollution Limits Encourage Jobs in the Chesapeake Bay Region, examines claims that environmental regulations hurt the economy and finds them to be false. In addition, the report looks at the jobs that have been and will be created as a result of the Bay pollution limits, and finds that, especially during economic downturns, these regulations will stimulate job growth while cleaning the water, restoring fish and shell fish, and creating a healthy environment for our children.
“For years opponents of environmental regulations have argued that they cost jobs and hurt businesses. That is not borne out by the facts,” said CBF President William C. Baker. “Whether the target is EPA or the Bay pollution limits, it is essential that the public understand that environmental regulations will create jobs to reduce pollution, and sustain jobs that depend on clean water.”
There have been many examples of industries crying wolf over new environmental regulations. In the 1970’s Henry Ford II warned that clean air and fuel efficiency standards would “shut down” the Ford Motor Company. Thirty five years later, Ford not only remains in business and makes cleaner cars today that it did then, it showed a profit of $6.5 billion in 2010.
“One of the strengths of the American economy is our ability to innovate,” Baker said. “Complying with regulations that reduce pollution has spurred advances in technology that actually improve products that we all take for granted every day.”
Another example of inflated rhetoric about jobs and regulation was the debate over federal Clean Air Act amendments in 1990. Opponents said it would produce a “quiet death for businesses across the country.” In fact, those predictions were not true, and in 2003, President George W. Bush’s Office of Management and Budget found that the benefits outweighed the investments by more than 40 to 1.
Dr. Eban Goodstein, Director of the Center for Environmental Policy at Bard College found no support for a net loss of jobs because of environmental regulations, a result of his study of economic literature on jobs and regulations. He said, “Virtually all economists who have studied this jobs-environment issue agree….There has simply been no trade-offs between jobs and the environment.”
Since the passage of federal clean water and air laws in the 1970s, a burgeoning new industry has sprouted that creates jobs and stimulates the economy through pollution reduction, including improvements to sewage and power plants. This environmental industry is now worth $312 billion a year nationally and employs almost 1.7 million people, with roughly 75 percent of job growth in this field driven by government regulation.
Close to home, when Maryland considered the Healthy Air Act to control pollution from coal-fired power plants in 2006, critics said it would force closure of power plants, cause layoffs, and cripple the reliability of the region’s electric system. In fact, none of those claims occurred, and at Constellation’s Brandon Shores power plant in Anne Arundel County, 1,300 construction workers were employed on the renovation, and 32 people were hired in part to run the pollution control equipment.
While too early to be specific about the number of jobs that will be created by the Bay pollution limits, between 1990 and 2009, the number of environmental clean-up and monitoring jobs increased by 43 percent across the region. A projection by the Economic Policy Institute found that stormwater projects could provide work for 178,000 full-time equivalent jobs across the region over the next five years. Maryland and Virginia plan to invest a total of $3 billion to upgrade sewage treatment plants over more than a decade, creating an estimated 60,000 construction related jobs.
“If history is any guide, regulations that reduce pollution will create jobs, strengthen local economies, and restore the health of our national treasure,” Baker said. “A clean environment and a vibrant economy are two sides of the same coin. One supports the other. We will have more fish, crabs, and oysters, and fewer health impacts from dirty water. ”
Release provided by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.