Enforcing Clean Air Act Rules Will Create 1.5 Million Jobs, Study Says


Photo: akeg, Flickr, CC BY-SA

Who wants clean air? How about 1.5 million jobs? I know someone who does ... America! Well, this fine nation of ours is in luck. According to a new study, enforcing the new Clean Air Act requirements would create a jobs boom in professions like plumbing, construction, engineering, and pipefitting. Which is interesting new, especially considering that the main charge levied against rolling out the new regulations is that it would be a job killer. Not so, says the report -- it's just the opposite. Here's Reuters:

Looming U.S. rules that power utilities face on air pollution could create nearly 1.5 million jobs over the next five years, according to a report ... Republicans and some Democrats in Congress have slammed the EPA's looming air rules on utilities as "job killing", saying they could push older coal plants into early retirement and raise electricity prices.

But the report, produced by researchers at University of Massachusetts Political Economy Research Institute, said investments to comply with the Clean Air Act have been good for the economy. It quoted the Office of Management and Budget, which said in 2003 that every dollar spent on compliance with the act since 1970 has led to $4 to $8 in economic benefits.

That, my friends, is what you call a sound investment. And though the estimated 1.5 million jobs created by the implementation of pollution controls would be temporary -- lasting until around 2015 -- it would nonetheless provide a major shot in the arm to an economy where it needs it most. Construction, as we know, is one of the fields worst hit by the economy, and hundreds of thousands of new jobs would be created here in one fell swoop.

Most importantly, this study shows just how empty the notion that enforcing clean air laws would somehow kill jobs truly is. The opposition against EPA standards can be traced to a single source: Energy companies and utilities that don't want to pay to upgrade their facilities to comply with them. It really is that simple. The Clean Air Act is a cornerstone of a healthy nation -- it keeps pollution down, keeps the air breathable, and as we see here, creates jobs in the process.

More on the Clean Air Act
The U.S. Clean Air Act is 40! Happy Birthday!
Like a Good Neighbor, the Clean Air Act is There

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