In a cloud over ozone
By Eugene Robinson, The Washington Post
Published: September 2
Republicans are trying to sell the false premise that protecting the environment inevitably means sacrificing jobs. President Obama should denounce this snake oil for what it is – rather than appear to accept it.
On Friday, Obama appeared to cede the point. He blocked new EPA rules limiting ground-level ozone – otherwise known as smog – as part of a larger effort to reduce “regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty” for U.S. businesses. The move came hours after a disappointing labor report showing that the economy added no new jobs in August.
As for the predictions of massive job losses, they sound just like the warnings we heard when environmental regulations ended acid rain or ensured that the citizens of Cleveland no longer had to worry about the Cuyahoga River catching fire.
There is plenty of evidence that the net effect of smart environmental regulation is to create jobs, not destroy them. New, more efficient plants are built; older, dirtier facilities are retrofitted. Companies innovate by developing new technology – ultimately making U.S. industry more competitive. And everyone is a little healthier.
Broken Windows, Ozone, and Jobs
Paul Krugman, The New York Times
September 3, 2011, 10:07 am
I’ve actually been avoiding thinking about the latest Obama cave-in, on ozone regulation; these repeated retreats are getting painful to watch. For what it’s worth, I think it’s bad politics. The Obama political people seem to think that their route to victory is to avoid doing anything that the GOP might attack – but the GOP will call Obama a socialist job-killer no matter what they do. Meanwhile, they just keep reinforcing the perception of mush from the wimp, of a president who doesn’t stand for anything.
(T)ighter ozone regulation would actually have created jobs: it would have forced firms to spend on upgrading or replacing equipment, helping to boost demand. Yes, it would have cost money – but that’s the point! And with corporations sitting on lots of idle cash, the money spent would not, to any significant extent, come at the expense of other investment.
More broadly, if you’re going to do environmental investments – things that are worth doing even in flush times – it’s hard to think of a better time to do them than when the resources needed to make those investments would otherwise have been idle.