Some people view that legislation designed to protect the environment from damage by industrial actions, have adverse economic implications. Such assumptions arise because environmental laws restrict the use of conventional manufacturing and production techniques which are usually cheaper. These claims are partially true. This paper will use employment as a parameter for gauging economic performance. Industries targeted by environmental laws are likely to take a financial hit, but the overall economy will benefit.
According to a report by the Environmental Protection Agency (2009), the claim that environmental protection has adverse effects on the economy is unfounded and false. The reports justify environmental protection in some ways. First, the Environmental Protection Agency (2009) mentions that the cost of having clean water and air is worth the regulations because these elements are necessary for life. Secondly, the Environmental Protection Agency (2009) mentions that there is little evidence to show that the agencys actions have caused significant job losses.
However, a study conducted by the US Chamber of Commerce (2013) faults the 2009 report by the Environmental Protection Agency. According to the US Chamber of Commerce, the two reports makes use of overall jobs reports which ignore industry specific data. The research by the US Chamber of Commerce shows that industry specific jobs created through environmental regulation are significantly lesser than those lost due to the same rules. Some of the laws highlighted in the investigation by the US Chamber of Commerce (2013) include the Cross-State Air Pollution Law and the Industrial Boiler Maximum Achievable Technology which according to the survey will lead to the loss of over 40,000 jobs by 2037. Notably this number is much higher than Environmental Protection Agency (2009) estimates, but still, the number of jobs projected to be created are much more.
Other concerns raised by the US Chamber of Commerce (2013) include the assumption by the Environmental Protection Agency (2009) that people who lose their jobs will regain employment. The US Chamber of Commerce (2013) makes use of data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics to show that 44 percent of people who lost long tenure jobs in 2012 remained without work for three years. However, these figures are not necessarily linked to actions by the EPA.
A 2011 systematic review by Irons and Shapiro for the Economics Policy Institute notes that environmental regulations have widespread implications and are not industry specific. Thus, restrictions on a particular industry are likely to spur innovation and growth in other sectors. Further, the systematic review by Irons and Shapiro shows that there are no studies that link anti-pollution laws with a lack of local industry competitiveness. Also, the investigators find out that net employment losses from environmental losses are minimal. These findings lead Irons and Shapiro (2011) to conclude that concerns about job losses arising from EPA activities are exaggerated.
Another analysis by Bivens (2015) for the Economic Policy Institute examines the effects of the Environmental Protection Agencys Clean Power Plan. The investigator's projection shows that the law will lead to significant losses to people working in industries such as coal. However, the number of jobs the act will create by 2020 significantly outnumber job losses.
Research shows that the employment projections by the Environmental Protection Agency are accurate, but note that industries that pollute the environment are likely to take an economic hit. Information from the Environmental Protection Agency shows that the number of jobs created will be more than those that will be lost. The benefits of having clean water and air are essential to human survival. Thus, environmental laws are necessary not only for economic benefits but also social gains.
Bivens, J. (2015). A comprehensive analysis of the employment impacts of the epas proposed clean power plan. [online] Economic Policy Institute. Available at: <http://www.epi.org/publication/employment-analysis-epa-clean-power-plan/> [Accessed 13 Apr. 2017].
EPA, (2009). Environmental protection: Is it bad for the economy? A non-technical summary of the literature. [online]. Available at: https://yosemite.epa.gov/ee/epa/eerm.nsf/oeT/212979DC5448DEAD8525683000732F35 [Accessed 12 Apr. 2017].
Irons, J. and Shapiro, I. (2011). Regulation, employment, and the economy. [online] Economic Policy Institute. Available at: <http://www.epi.org/publication/regulation_employment_and_the_economy_fears_of_job_loss_are_overblown/> [Accessed 13 Apr. 2017].
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