The Republican intellectual midgets now vying for a chance to run against President Obama have made railing against the Environmental Protection Agency part of their campaign speeches. Romney calls it “a tool to crush private enterprise.” Rick Perry terms it “a cemetery for jobs.” Both men are lying through their teeth. Right now in Virginia and neighboring states, there is proof emerging that EPA regulations can be huge job and business creators.
For people in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the EPA may be the engine for massive job growth. A report by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation highlights the number of jobs that will flow from achieving new pollution goals set by the EPA for the Bay. Those rules require pollution flowing into the Bay to drop by 25% by 2025 and have already resulted in state and federal investment in stormwater mitigation projects, sewage treatment facility upgrades, power plant smokestack scrubbers, and better management of agricultural runoff and livestock waste.
Construction of stormwater control projects already contracted for in Montgomery County MD will create 3,300 construction and engineering jobs. According to the Economic Policy Institute, similar stormwater projects across the Bay watershed could create 178,000 full-time jobs, 52,000 of them in Virginia.
Republicans can’t admit that 21st century projects in clean energy and pollution mitigation are one of the best sources for future employment and business opportunities because of their ties to entrenched corporate interests that want to maximize their profits by maintaining the status quo.
According to Environmental Business International, the environmental industry today is worth $312 billion annually and employs 1.7 million people, hardly a “cemetery for jobs.” In fact, while regulation will always displace some jobs, the net effect of such regulation is to create far more jobs than are lost.
In the past 13 years, 59 sewage treatment plants have been upgraded, and another 21 plants are under construction, all of the projects producing jobs that pay a good wage.
According to a report by the Clean Water Council, every $1 billion invested in water and wastewater projects creates 20,000 construction jobs. At a time when the construction industry still has not recovered from the Great Recession, such pollution mitigation projects are exactly what the economy needs.
Of course, none of this information about jobs flowing from environmental regulation will appear in the mainstream media. Corporate media, like far too many politicians, get their marching orders from the business elite that values only immediate profits and a return on capital that discounts all social costs for the activity. This issue, like so many others, is left to us to get the word out.