Believe It or Not, Environmental Regulations Are Good for The Economy

President Trump’s and Republican philosophy on regulations has been an integral part of their approach to environmental policy. In fact, they’ve been so determined in deregulating all business, they’ve done very little to protect the environment at all. 

Their deregulatory agenda has been so paramount to any actual environmental protections that reports have been recently released that the Environmental Protection Agency is allowing asbestos to re-enter manufacturing. Through a series of loopholes issued by the EPA it has “authorized a “SNUR” (Significant New Use Rule) that allowed the creation of new products containing asbestos on a case-by-case basis.” So for any protections for harmful exposure, they’ve passed the buck down to local and state governments to bring awareness and regulation to this cancer causing carcinogen. 

It goes against intuition that the federal government should be involved in conducting risk evaluations for major carcinogens that cause 40,000 deaths annually as a result of cancer. This deregulatory agenda seems to not aim for balance between environmental protection and reasonable deregulation, but purely to deregulate for the sake corporate friendliness. It’s been an ongoing trend that was even more evident in their tax cuts

The argument for years has been that environmental regulations are a drain on the economy and jobs. It’s been stated much that it’s taken as truth without serious consideration for critically assessing the impacts of protecting the environment or lack thereof. At this point in time, environmental factors as a result of climate change are actually hurting the economy, such as falling property values because of rising sea levels and natural disasters. 

But even more relevant to this discussion was a report released by the Trump administration’s Office of Management and Budget that found the aggregate benefits of “major” federal regulations was $219 -$685 billion versus the aggregate costs of $59 to $88 billion. The report also found that air quality standards were the ones that benefitted the public health the most but also cost the industry the most, but by direct comparison not even marginally close.

Vox divulged into the study and reported the “new fuel economy standards for medium- and heavy-duty engines had (in 2001 dollars) between $6.7 billion and $9.7 billion in benefits. But they cost industry $0.8 billion to $1.1 billion…In short, air quality rules secure enormous health benefits for the American public, but they also ask a great deal of industry.”

So Trump is willing to make the argument that environmental regulations cost us all more, despite his administration and data showing the overall societal benefit is greater. So should we choose to absorb those public health costs through increased health care and insurances costs in a time when these costs are already close to insurmountable all for the sake of saving corporate money? The reality is if we have to absorb those costs, it means businesses don’t and we know how where Trump’s priorities lie. 

The notion that it reduces jobs is also another falsehood. Dave Roberts reports on energy and climate change for Vox and gives a thorough argument as to why environmental regulations don’t kill jobs. The change in jobs from coal to other new renewable energy like solar is how markets adapt and progress for a more sustainable future, both in a business sense and environmental sense. He writes:

“Within this broad framework, regional or sectoral developments (regulations on a particular industry, particular industries growing or declining, population shifts between and among regions) are generally lost in the national noise. If a particular resource declines, the market finds substitutes. If a particular industry declines, other industries grow and absorb the workers. If demographics shift, economic activity shifts with them.”

The notion that environmental regulations are bad for the economy is one that needs to end. If we’re not willing to grow into a new energy economy or delay our transition for current corporate executives, while protecting public health, we’ll be left behind from countries that have. America could be crippled by public health issues with an economy that lacks the new energy economy and regret for our constant choice to prioritize business over people. 

Joe MelisiComment