Clean air rules could create 1.5 million jobs

CONSTRUCTION BOILERMAKERS could see a rise in work as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules push utilities to invest in new pollution controls, according to a report commissioned by Ceres, a coalition of environmentalists and institutional investors.

Many politicians — both Democrats and Republicans — have been saying the EPA’s looming air rules will raise electricity prices and cause older plants to close down, killing jobs, but “New Jobs – Cleaner Air,” published by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Political Economy Research Institute, says investments made to comply with the Clean Air Act are actually good for the economy.

The report quotes the Office of Management and Budget, which said in 2003 that every dollar spent on compliance with the act since 1970 has led to $4 to $8 in economic benefits.

“The bottom line: clean air is a worthwhile investment,” said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres.

Most of the nearly 1.5 million jobs would be temporary, lasting through 2015, and depend on plants spending nearly $200 billion on pollution controls and building new capacity.

The report looked at two EPA rules designed to reduce emissions. The Transport Rule would curtail smog-causing chemicals; the Utility MACT Rule (maximum achievable control technology) would reduce the output of mercury and other hazardous pollutants from boilers. Analysts say these rules are more certain than new or future rules on greenhouse gases, which face opposition in Congress.

“This report is one of the more optimistic job-creation estimates I have seen and may overstate the number of new jobs we see,” said Abe Breehey, Boilermakers Legislative Director. “But the fact is that for two decades now, a very large portion of Boilermaker work in coal-fired power plants has been installing pollution control equipment.”