The following blog is transcripted highlights from WYPR.org's 11/30/11 story, Clearing the Air About the "Job Killer" Myth.
Five years ago none of the power plants in Maryland had any of the air pollution control equipment known as "scrubbers," even though the technology had been available and highly effective for reducing smog, asthma, and acid rain for three decades. Why?
Opponents of clean air equipment and regulation argued that such equipment was burdensomely expensive and that requiring it would cause plant closures, power grid blackouts, and sky rocketing electric bills. "I think it's almost axiomatic that new regulations do kill more jobs than they create," Scott Segal a leading lobbyist for coal fired power plants.
However, Eban Goodstein, director of the Center for Environmental Policy at Bard College, who's spent more than a decade studying claims about job destruction caused by environmental regulations, responds, "It's not axiomatic by any dimension. There's virtually no empirical evidence to suggest that's true."
Goodstein's research found there are about 1,500 job lay-offs every year across the U.S. caused by environmental regulation. That total amounts to 1/10 of 1% of annual job losses. Goodstein, "Regulations are a scapegoat and not a real villain in the economy… Globalization, technology, and corporate restructuring (are) responsible for the elimination of far more American jobs. Regulations that mandate the construction of pollution control systems tend to create jobs during an economic downturn. This is because they force companies to spend money on improving their plants."
After the Maryland Healthy Air Act of 2006 none of the regulation's opponents predictions came true: there were no plant closures, no blackouts, and no price spikes. Instead, the state's two largest electric power companies spent a combined $2.6 Billion purchasing equipment, hiring 2,800 construction workers and increasing full-time employment at their renewed plants. At the Brandon Shores Coal Plant 33 full time scrubber employees make between $50,000 and $100,000 per year.
Workers observe the Brandon Shores Coal Plant scrubber.