Regulation really does kill jobs

Letters to the Editor

February 1, 2011 — If you want to find jobs killed by environmental regulation, try looking at the Northwest timber industry. There is none. It was all killed by EPA regulation for the spotted owl. Lumber mills and whole towns closed down and we now import the lost timber from Canada.

Or try finding an engineer in the nuclear industry under age 55. There are none. That’s because the Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulated nuclear to death. Thousands of people quit the industry. Whole nuclear engineering programs closed down. Even today the NRC is taking four to five years to come to a decision on licensing a new reactor - it may be even more because nobody’s ever gotten one. You could thousands of construction workers to work right now building reactors with technology that is being employed everywhere else in the world - in Europe, in Korea, in China - but the NRC won’t allow it. There are some of your lost jobs.

The 1990 Clean Air Amendment is the most atypical example you could find. That was because it allowed cap-and-trade. It worked beautifully because it allowed incremental improvements and permitted companies to look for the cheapest solutions. But when the Bush II Administration tried to do the same thing for mercury emissions, liberals in Congress reverted to the same old arguments — “People will just pay to pollute,” “The EPA has to command people” — and it went nowhere. So we’re back to square one. The industrial boiler regulations set to be implemented next month will require the “maximum achievable control technology” on every one of thousands of industrial boilers in the country. Dozens will have to close down. You don’t think that’s going to kill jobs?

Regulation creates jobs — sure it does. It creates jobs for bureaucrats, for lawyers, for environmental consultants and Washington policymakers. It’s really a class conflict, white collar versus blue collar, which is why the press sides with the regulators — all their friends are environmentalists and bureaucrats. But the bureaucracy produces nothing we can sell to other countries. That’s why we have a $60 billion trade deficit and are headed toward national bankruptcy. Maybe we can sell the Chinese some of our environmental regulations. They’ve always been big on bureaucracy.

William Tucker (Piermont, New York)

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