The president spent an hour last week giving a speech detailing yet another jobs program. During the last election cycle we were promised a new era of green jobs facilitated by the hand of government. Now it’s “infrastructure,” he says. That’s where the jobs are!
Obama’s been talking about infrastructure for six years now and so far it’s been all hat and no cattle. And I’m not sure where all those green jobs are, especially if the Chinese keep putting out cut rate solar panels and companies like Solyndra keep going bankrupt.
But if the president really wants to stimulate job growth he may want to think long and hard about all the jobs his war against coal has cost us.
According to the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, the new EPA rules on coal generated electrical power are going to eliminate 887,700 jobs and bring compliance costs nationwide to the tune of $15 to $16.7 billion. Obviously, the ACCCE is biased in favor of coal, but scan the daily headlines across the country and you see the pink slips piling up:
- 3,000 mining jobs in eastern rural Kentucky since the start of 2012.
- 300 jobs in Montana and Wyoming since early 2012.
- 3,300 jobs in West Virginia in 2012 alone.
- 1,200 jobs lost when Alpha Natural Resources closed eight mines in West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania in late 2012.
Right here in Equipment World‘s own backyard Drummond Coal announced this month it plans to layout 425 workers. These are good jobs too. The kind of jobs that can sustain a family. Union jobs, skilled labor. Jobs that pay $20+ an hour and keep getting better as you attain seniority.
I’ll be the first to admit that coal has environmental drawbacks. It needs to be regulated and its environmental impacts mitigated. But how fast, how soon? In the deepest and longest lasting recession since the Great Depression, should the federal government be declaring war on any industry?
What rankles me the most, however, is that the EPA, under the president’s direct control, doesn’t give a hoot about job loss. This report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce details how for 45 years, the EPA has turned a blind eye to the human cost of job losses resulting from its regulations.
If Congress can’t get accurate data about the damage federal regulations are doing to jobs in this country it can’t do cost-benefit analysis.
According to the report, in 1967 Congress required the EPA to provide “a comprehensive study of the economic impacts of air quality standards on the nation’s industries and communities.” Yet a decade later when this mandate was coded into law the EPA, “ignored this congressional mandate, thus depriving Congress of a significant body of data that would shed light on the impact of regulations on jobs and employment.”
Then again in 2009, when six Senators asked the EPA for an evaluation of additional job losses due to air quality regulations, the EPA responded, more or less, by saying: “Hey, not my job.”
It seems the least the president could do, if he were serious about jobs, would be to call his own agency on the carpet about its refusal to calculate the jobs lost due to federal regulations. If Congress can’t get accurate data about the damage federal regulations are doing to jobs in this country it can’t do cost-benefit analysis. Bad information, bad solutions. No information, no solutions.
A business that can’t or won’t do cost-benefit analysis won’t last a year. Amazing that a government can go on for 45 years without honoring this basic operating procedure.
In 2010 we reported on the California Air Quality Board’s absurdly incorrect numbers on the amount of pollution diesel construction machines put into that state’s air. They overestimated the amount by a factor of three to four times. Nobody at CARB got fired, as is the case with most government agencies, even though hundreds of contractors had to upgrade or sell off their fleets at a loss.
There are dozens of government agencies that put out detailed numbers, highly respected and bankable information. Why can’t the EPA do the same?
Is it the case that environmental agencies are afraid to show us the math, knowing that accurate numbers would doom their pet causes?
Is it too much to ask the EPA to follow the laws Congress passed?
Is the EPA above the law?
If the president and were serious about jobs, he should ask.