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.
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…