Compliance with two Clean Air Act (CAA) rules expected to be finalized this year will create jobs, according to a Ceres report, New Jobs-Cleaner Air: Employment Effects under Planned Changes to EPA’s Air Pollution Rules. The report, prepared by Dr. James Heintz of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, evaluated the job impacts of the two proposed rules: the Clean Air Transport Rule which focuses on sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from 31 eastern and Midwestern states, and the Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rule which will limit air pollutants such as mercury, arsenic, lead and hydrochloric acid.
The report found that, based on recent estimates, the power sector will invest almost $200 billion in capital improvements, almost $94 million on pollution controls and over $100 billion on about 68,000 megawatts of new generation capacity, over the next five years (2010-2015). The employment created by the investments is estimated to be 1.46 million jobs, or about 290,000 jobs on average in each of the next five years. The transition to a “cleaner, modern fleet” of power plants will result in 4,254 operation and maintenance (O&M) jobs across the Eastern Interconnection.
Installing modern pollution controls and building new power plants will create high-paying installation, construction and professional jobs. The states that will see the most job gains are Illinois, (122,695), Virginia, (123,014), Tennessee, (113,138), North Carolina (76,966) and Ohio (76,240).
The CAA in general brings economic benefits. Enacted in 1970, and amended in 1990, the CAA provides $4 to $8 in benefits for every $1 spent on compliance, according to the report.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform asked businesses and business organizations what regulations they think are hampering them. The businesses sited over 150 regulations, and the American Chemistry Council sited the MACT rule. Issa plans to hold a hearing on February 10, 2011 on the recommendations he received.
Last August, 106 members of Congress, including 45 Democrats, sent a letterto EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson telling her that the MACT rule will hamper the manufacturing sector. The letter stated that “the potential impact of pending Clean Air regulations could be unsustainable for U.S. manufacturing and the high paying jobs it provides.” The letter also said, “We also believe that regulations can be crafted in a balanced way that sustains both the environment and jobs.”
Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, disagrees with the 106 congressional members who sent the letter. “Americans can expect significant economic gains from implementing these new EPA rules in the form of highly-skilled, well-paying jobs that will help us clean up and modernize the nation’s power plant fleet,” Lubber said.