Community Supported Agriculture & the Future of Farm Livelihoods

By Mark Paul, Ph.D. candidate in economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and researcher with E3 Network’s Future Economy Initiative. Mark’s current research focuses on the link between sustainable agriculture and development. 

I certainly don’t earn a fair wage, but it’s farming. It’s labor of love

– CSA Farmer

CSAboxesCSA farms are expanding at a rapid pace, with operations in every state and a six-fold increase in farms since 2001, but it is questionable whether this innovative farming model is delivering the goods. Proponents claim CSA are an active process of re-embedding market exchanges in social relations, with benefits to the local food economy that include the availability of healthy fresh local produce, sustainable agriculture production, increase in biodiversity, regional economic development through sustainable supply chains, and a vibrant community space that promotes the sharing of knowledge, ideas, and leisure. But is the CSA delivering on these promises? Continue reading…

Future Economy Initiative – Sheeran

By Kristen Sheeran in regards to E3 Network’s Future Economy Initiative:

Meet the new economy; it’s not the same as the old one. It’s true that communities throughout the United States are still affected by the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis: foreclosures, unemployment and high inequality are just three of the symptoms. But there’s also something else afoot: an array of innovations taking place nationwide with the potential to change economic life as we know it. The E3 Network is proud to announce the Future Economies Initiative, devoted to carefully documenting, describing and analyzing these innovations around a common framework and set of research questions. Continue reading…

The Keystone Pipeline Debate: An Alternative Job Creation Strategy

New research shows that replacing failing infrastructure in Keystone XL states creates more and better jobs than the proposed pipeline

Replacing aging wastewater, drinking water, and gas distribution pipes in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas can create more jobs and better jobs in the pipeline and construction industries than the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, according to a new report released today by E3 Network and Labor Network for Sustainability.

The Keystone XL pipeline has been touted as a means to address America’s job crisis. This new report, The Keystone Pipeline Debate: An Alternative Job Creation Strategy, shows that we can create five times more jobs than Keystone XL by investing in much needed water, sewer, and gas infrastructure projects in the five states along the proposed pipeline route. The study finds that meeting water and gas infrastructure needs in the five states can create more than 300,000 total jobs. Every dollar spent on gas, water, and sewer infrastructure in those states generates 156% more employment than the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Continue reading…

Restoration Brings Jobs to Rural Communities

By Kristen Sheeran

Rural communities, particularly in the Northwest, are in the midst of a long-term employment crisis, with measured unemployment rates up to twice the national average. This ongoing employment crisis has undermined local tax bases, leading to the collapse of vital public services and infrastructure. The lack of local opportunities and the resulting brain and youth drain to urban centers, threatens to unravel the social and cultural fabric that has defined many rural communities for generations.

Rural economies are traditionally resource-based, specializing in the supply of low-value added commodity exports that are subject to the boom-bust cycles of commodity markets. The industrial activity that does occur is typically controlled by larger corporations with no direct ties to the local community. This means that rural communities are subject to constant instability resulting from a lack of control over the fundamental mechanisms of their economies. This phenomenon is seen across the Northwest, where the combination of intensified global competition in timber markets, the consolidation of mills, and sharp reductions in federal timber harvests have contributed to long-term, endemic economic decline in forest communities.

In response to the crisis, some rural communities have taken steps to attract tourism, recreation, retirees, and long-distance commuters. But other opportunities are emerging that make deliberate use of the natural assets of these communities. Restoring and maintaining intact ecosystems, developing markets for ecosystem services, and diversifying production to meet growing demand for sustainably produced agriculture, energy, and other bio-based products can harness the natural competitive advantages of these regions. Continue reading…

Clearing the Air About Job Killer Myths

E3 Network’s Eban Goodstein has spent the last 15 years arguing that regulations are not job killers. The empirical evidence of job losses from environmental and human health regulations over the last few decades in the US simply do not support the job killer myth. On the contrary, regulations that require investments in new technologies and machinery can create new jobs, especially in slack economies.

In this interview, Goodstein’s arguments are paired with real life examples from Maryland, where more stringent air quality regulations on power plants have  compelled coal-fired power plants to install billion-dollar scrubbers. None of the dire predictions of job losses and blackouts have come true and new jobs have been created – a win-win for people and the environment.

Brandon Shores scrubber with Melissa Sampson - NPR

NPR Interview – Clearing Air Job Killer Myths



Coal Ash Regulation Creates Jobs

This post first appeared on Triple Crisis.

Does environmental protection destroy jobs? That may be the strongest argument that the pro-pollution lobby has going for it. No one wants to endorse dirty air and water in so many words, but hey, we’re just trying to save jobs at a time when millions are out of work. In one of the latest reincarnations of this idea, the electric utility industry claims that regulating the disposal of coal ash could eliminate up to 316,000 jobs.

Ever sensitive to industry’s needs and wishes, Republicans in the House of Representatives have drafted a bill to ban federal regulation of coal ash, H.R. 2273. It’s expected to reach the floor of the House for a vote this week. Lobbyists supporting H.R. 2273 helpfully point out that it will stop the destruction of 316,000 jobs.

A quick reality check: regulating coal ash disposal means using earth-moving equipment, which doesn’t drive itself, constructing new facilities which don’t build themselves, and so on. Close your eyes and try to picture this, and you may see some workers on the premises. Environmental regulation generally creates jobs, including lots of blue-collar jobs in construction and manufacturing. Continue reading…

Jobs, and Clean Air Too

This post originally appeared on the Triple Crisis Blog.

What’s good for job growth, good for the environment, and good for public health? No, it’s not a trick question, but it is a reassessment of what passes for conventional wisdom in Washington these days. The answer is the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and other enormously popular environmental regulations enacted in the 1960s, 70s and 80s with strong bipartisan support.

Let’s start with the conventional wisdom. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor recently called for the repeal of ten “job-destroying” regulations, calling them “costly bureaucratic handcuffs that Washington has imposed upon business people who want to create jobs.” On the list are regulations that limit air pollution, maintain the ozone layer, curtail greenhouse gas emissions, and prevent contaminants from entering ground water. (Also on the chopping block: labor standards and health benefits.) The rationale behind the proposed repeal of these important environmental regulations is somewhat baffling, but here’s an example to try to sort it out.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new regulation of space-heating boilers would, according to Cantor, impose, “billions of dollars in capital and compliance costs.” The question is, where do those billions of dollars go? If we are to believe the Majority Leader, this money is flushed down the proverbial toilet. Its only impacts are to raise the costs of goods and services, and to put hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk (presumably, employers – cash strapped after flushing all that money – would have to fire workers to make ends meet). Environmental regulation, we are told, is nothing but a burden both to business and labor. Continue reading…

Desert Year: Shedding Leaves and Jobs

John ‘Skip” Laitner is an economist, enjoying a desert year while on research sabbatical  from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Skip is discovering some surprising insights from his time in the desert that can inform the way one looks at the economy and social systems. In a series of posts entitled Desert Year, Skip lends us his new insights, as well as his 40 years of experience as an energy and natural resource economist, to probe the economic, climate, and energy challenges that confront us.

An Interesting Adaptation

The Ocotillo plant, up close and personal, right here in the Arizona Sonoran Desert, is an intriguing desert shrub. It knows how to survive. 

After the first serious rain it can grow its leaves amazingly fast in just a couple of days. And then it holds them for as long as the rains continue – whether into the spring or during the current monsoon season. 

But it drops its leaves just as quickly when the rains end. It grows them fast, and sheds them just as fast. 

The Octillo Plant

On the other hand, we have the example of  the Hampton, Maryland‑based clothing retailer, Jos. A. Bank, which seems to be thriving in spite of the economy’s current sluggishness.  Curiously, it even offered at one point to take back its suits from men who had been laid off.

 Hmmm…  A common thread?  An interesting adaptation?

 I’m one of those economists who think the new normal will be a very sluggish economy for some years to come. Continue reading…

Response to Hearing on EPA Regulations and Jobs

This is a response by Dr. James Heintz of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst to issues raised by Dr. David Montgomery in his written testimony before the Subcommittee on Energy and Power Committee on Energy and Commerce United States House of Representatives Hearing on EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulations and Their Effect on American Jobs, March 1st, 2011.

On March 1st, 2011, Dr. David Montgomery testified before the Subcommittee on Energy and Power Committee on Energy and Commerce United States House of Representatives Hearing on EPA’s Greenhouse  Gas Regulations and Their Effect on American Jobs. In the written testimony, Dr. Montgomery critically reviews a recent study released by Ceres/PERI in February 2011, New Jobs, Cleaner Air: Employment Effects Under Planned Changes to EPAs Air Pollution Rules, which examines the employment that might be created by investments in new electricity generation capacity and pollution control technologies under proposed changes to air pollution standards for electrical utilities (the ‘Utility MACT’ and Transport Rule). This brief response addresses several issues raised by Dr. Montgomery in his written testimony and corrects a number of factual errors. Continue reading…