Scientists and Economists Agree – Health and Safety Regulations Are Good for Our Health and Good for the Economy

Health and safety advocates have argued for decades that investments in clean energy and environmental protections help to create jobs. Time and time again, reports have shown that supporting clean energy fosters the development of new, job-creating industries, and that compliance with environmental health and safety standards encourages companies to hire new workers and invest in local economies. A host of new studies published in the past week provide even more support for those claims.

A study published July 14, Why EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Rule is Good for the Economy and America’s Workforce, lays out the economic benefits of the EPA air toxics proposed rule. Author Charles J. Cicchetti of Navigant Consulting finds that the air toxics rule would create more than 115,000 jobs by 2015 – eclipsing EPA’s conservative estimate by nearly 80,000. Cicchetti argues that the EPA’s own cost-benefit analysis was scientifically sound but failed to account for possible inaccuracies in industry-supplied data and left out some secondary benefits of the rule such as reduced health care and insurance costs. Sponsored by the Clean Air Council, the Environmental Law & Policy Center, the Conservation Law Foundation and others, the study echoes one published by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in June. The EPI study estimated 28,000 - 158,000 new jobs in the next four years.

A second report, this one peer-reviewed and published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, takes a close look at the economic impacts of clean energy investment in the Midwest. Entitled A Bright Future for the Heartland: Powering the Midwest Economy with Clean Energy, the July 19 report finds that if Midwest states enact a clean energy strategy produced in 2009 by the Midwestern Governors Association (MGA), they could save the average household $78 per year on electricity and natural gas bills, create 85,700 new jobs in the region,  and bring $1 billion in new income to farmers and clean energy companies. The Midwest was hit hard by the recent recession, and the study’s authors indicate that the region’s “great renewable energy potential, a strong manufacturing base and the skilled workforce needed to realize that potential,” make it uniquely situated to benefit from investing in clean energy.

Finally, EPI on Tuesday published a report debunking a Crain and Crain study released in September 2010 on the overall cost of regulation. The report, Flaws Call for Rejecting Crain and Crain Model, demonstrates that Nicole Crain and Mark Crain relied on flawed methodology and incomplete data to reach a conclusion that regulations cost small businesses $1.75 trillion in 2008. The EPI paper is the most recent in a string of critiques of the Crain and Crain study. The Congressional Research Service and the Center for Progressive Reform have raised similar questions about the Crain and Crain paper earlier this year. Setting the record straight on the study is important because Republicans have been using the controversial Crain and Crain estimate to support their unwarranted attacks on regulations.

While each of these studies examines a different aspect of the effects of regulation on the economy, together they show that the U.S. can create jobs and have a bright economic future, while at the same time protecting the air we breathe, the water we drink and the planet on which we live.

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