American Elephants

How The EPA Destroys Jobs. They’re Good At It. by The Elephant's Child

One of the hottest political debates in Washington concerns the effect the Environmental Protection Agency is having on business.  Businesses and trade associations single out the EPA as their number one target when they complain about the source of job-destroying regulations and mandates.

A new study from the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) claims that the EPA’s new regulations will be — good for the economy— because it will create hundreds of thousands of jobs.  How does this work?

PERI claims that in spite of the fact that the EPA is destroying jobs at a time of already high unemployment, two new sets of air pollution rules for power plants would create hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next five years. And we remember all the previous claims of hundreds and thousands of “green jobs.” That worked out well.

New rules including the proposed Clean Air Transport Rule (CATR), a program aimed at smog and soot forming pollution that travels across state lines.  The EPA must also propose new limits on mercury and other types of toxic air pollution to replace an earlier program that was thrown out by a federal court. Sounds good, right?

The job-growth estimates were based on projection that the  two rules will force the power sector to invest nearly $200 billion to design, build and install equipment between 2010 and 2015.  The projects would directly create about 640,000 years of work through 2015, or 128,000 full-time jobs.  Another 820,000 years of work would be created indirectly, as other companies provide goods and services to the projects. Uh huh.

And where does the $200 billion come from?  Oh, consumers will just have to pay a little more for energy.  And businesses will have to pay more for their energy.  And some businesses will find the costs of energy too high and go out of business or lay off more people.  The government does not make the economy more prosperous by imposing new constraints on economic growth. This is typical government math.  Costs are always underestimated, and nobody has a clue about unintended consequences. Spain got all excited about wind and solar and green jobs, and it has driven them into bankruptcy.

Our air is clean.  Our water is clean.  The Clean Air Act did its job, and major pollutants were removed.  Smokestacks got scrubbers, cars got catalytic converters, pollutants were monitored.  They did a good job. There is an aphorism in science and medicine — “the dose makes the poison.” Many effective medicines contain tiny amounts of what if consumed in quantity would be a deadly poison.  Most of the things we eat or use contain ingredients that in large quantity would be toxic.

This is not enough for ideological environmental activists.  They want to regulate, sequester, bury and eliminate all carbon dioxide because they hate carbon-based fuels and want them all replaced with clean free wind.  Wind may be free, but the attempts to use it as a power source are very expensive indeed. (And CO2 is not the cause of global warming, and the globe hasn’t been warming for 15 years.)

The EIA has projected the cost for sources of electricity per megawatt hour in 2015 in 2008 dollars.  Conventional coal power–$78.10; Onshore wind power–$149.30; Offshore wind power–$191.10; Thermal solar power–$256.60; Photo-voltaic solar power–$396.10.  Do we really want clean “free” offshore wind power? How would it affect your life to have your power bill double or triple?

Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar are going to SPEND another $50.5 million over the next five years to try to make offshore wind farms viable.

How much are we going to have to pay in ruined lives and destroyed jobs to satisfy the fantasies of this crowd?


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