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Environmental Regulations: Do They Create or Hurt Jobs?

It has been an argument for quite some years and the question is still being asked today: do federal enforced environmental regulations hurt the economy or help it? Many will say that these regulations not only help the environment, which is still a hot topic amidst all of the job market news, but also create jobs since people need to be hired to execute the regulations and get the business up to par. Others will say that the environmental regulations enforced upon certain businesses and industries in fact hurt since money that would otherwise be used for job creation or stabilization must now be used to ensure that regulations are being met.

Either way you look at it you can find supporting facts to back up your claim, but many in the Chesapeake Bay area are saying that environmental regulations instated to keep the water clean and lower the percentage of toxins will create jobs for the people of Virginia and Maryland. According to the Baltimore Sun, sewage and storm-water treatment alone could create 230,000 jobs over the next 14 years. The statistics came from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation who’s president William C. Baker feels that the idea environmental regulations add to joblessness is “nothing less than absurd.” He was quoted saying “clean air and clean water creates jobs.” It no doubt will create jobs for many Americans in the region, but what could happen to other businesses with the enforcement of the regulation?

Back towards the end of November, Spark News posted an article discussing a piece that covered California businesses hurt by expensive environmental regulations. Land O’ Lakes reported in a legislative caucus hearing that the $4 million low-emission boiler they had to buy in order to comply with state regulations reduced their emissions only by 5 percent and in no way helped their business. Looking on the other side of the glass, you can see why this debate has been going strong for years.

Though the cleaning of the Chesapeake Bay water sounds very appealing and, once the statistics are posted, may prove to be very beneficial, there are those that are much opposed to the government spending that would take place in order to enforce the regulation. Similar to the Californian’s that were opposed, the majority of opposition to the regulation is coming from farmers. Patricia Langenfelder, president of the Maryland Farm Bureau said that the money the government will have to spend on filling these public-sector jobs will increase tax rates for everyone else and shed agricultural jobs. “The additional cost to farmers…may result in lost jobs as farms go out of business trying to pay for the additional requirements that add no additional value to the products they are growing and selling,” she said in the Sun.

Back in February of last year, Virginia Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte proposed a provision of the law that would have cut the funding for the Chesapeake Bay cleaning that is set to limit the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment released into the water. The provision was shut-down by Democrats in the Senate and the cleaning is still set in motion. The Sun states that the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, in support of the cleaning, cited a clean-air law from 2006 in Maryland that created 1,300 construction jobs and employed 32 people.

Whether or not this particular regulation for the Chesapeake Bay will result in a damaged or uplifted job market and economy has yet to be determined. From this, once again we are left with the question we have been asking for years. Whether or not we will ever get a real answer…is also yet to be determined.

SOURCE: The Baltimore Sun
PHOTO: Courtesy of WTOP

Nicole Nicholson

Nicole is the Content Editor for Spark Hire and mainly writes for and edits the work for the Spark News blog. She graduated in 2010 with a BA in Journalism from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She has a passion for writing, editing, and pretty much anything to do with content. In her free time she frequents the Chicago music scene and writes reviews on shows for her own personal blog. Connect with Nicole and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter