Environmental regulation doesn’t kill jobs; it creates them
In December, the Obama administration approved long-overdue environmental regulations requiring U.S. power plants to reduce emissions of mercury, arsenic, and other toxic metals. The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, or air toxics rule, is expected to prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths a year and have many other health benefits. And yet conservative members of Congress oppose it.
Why? Because they say it will “kill jobs.” This is a familiar tactic for politicians opposed to any sort of regulation. Conservatives have been scarily disciplined in appending the job-killing label to all regulations, both old and new.
As somebody who has been on the front line of this particular battle, I’m afraid to say that the tactic seems to have resonance. Of course, it has also been a disaster for those interested in a true assessment of regulation’s impacts on the economy. I’m not a regulatory expert, but I am a macroeconomist and thus know what does and does not impact overall job growth. Textbook macroeconomics indicates that, from the perspective of job creation, the best time to enact regulations that may require costly investments is precisely when the economy is depressed.