Good news for clean energy jobs: Ceres study shows new Clean Air Act rules will create 1.5 million jobs

At the Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference in DC yesterday,  Ceres released a report by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst that determined that two pending Clean Air Act rules would create nearly 1.5 million jobs. CAP Energy Intern Lee Hamill has the story.

The first of these is the “Clean Air Transport Rule,”which would reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions that contribute to acid rain and smog. The second rule, known as the “UtilityMACT” (or toxic pollutant rule), would require industrial boilers to cut their hazardous air pollutants, including mercury, arsenic, lead, and hydrochloric acid. Both rules are expected to be finalized in 2011.

In the report, “New Jobs-Cleaner Air: Employment Effects under Planned Changes to EPA’s Air Pollution Rules,” Dr. James Heintz of the Political Economy Research Institute at U-Massachusetts bases his projections on an estimated $200 billion to be invested in pollution controls, new plant construction, and the retirement of less efficient coal plants by the power sector. These investmentswould create 1.5 million jobs-an average of 290,000 new jobs each year for the next five years. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, praised the report’s findings:

These are American jobs in manufacturing, installing and operating modern pollution control technology and producing clean energy – jobs that come at a crucial time as our nation’s economy continues to recover and grow.

The states expected to experience the largest gains in jobs are Virginia, Illinois, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Ohio.

The new jobs created by these pending air pollution standards more than offset any job loss due to the retirement of older, less efficient coal plants.   Many of these out-datedplants would eventually shut down even without these rules. These proposed Clean Air Act rules would benefit the economy by generating over 4,200 operation and management (O&M) jobs. O&M jobs also provide permanent employment, similar to positions related to the design, construction, and installation of new pollution controls.

Implementation of the Clean Air Transport Rule and the toxic pollutant rulewould protect Americans’ health in addition to creating jobs. EPA analyses have demonstrated the health and economic benefits of cleaner air. They estimate that the Clean Air Transport Rule alone will avoid14,000 to 36,000 premature deaths annually beginning in 2014, and generate  $120 to $290 billion in yearly health benefits.

Big oil companies and their congressional allies falsely claim that reducing pollution is a “job killer.”  These opponents of public health protection want to block the newrules to keep their profits hefty. Fortunately, the Ceres report is yet another demonstration that clean air is good for both Americans’ lungs and their paychecks.

Lee Hamill is a CAP Energy Intern

3 Responses to Good news for clean energy jobs: Ceres study shows new Clean Air Act rules will create 1.5 million jobs

  1. George says:

    A lot of the job creation from this bill is related to spending on capital projects to upgrade or replace power facilities. The rest come from the cost of operating and maintaining the new pollution control equipment. Now if I am a power company, and I need to invest in new capital and new operating expenses, doesn’t that raise the cost of the power that I am producing? The money has to come from somewhere – either subsidies from the government (with associated tax increases) or higher utility rates.

    I don’t see any attempt to estimate what the impact of higher power costs would be on employment outside of the power industry. In order to get a complete picture, doesn’t that also have to be part of the analysis?

  2. Justin says:

    Response to George,

    This is one solution to a bigger picture of energy consumption of the average American. So we start with energy efficiency of a power plant. Highly efficient plants probably mean less maintenance and less cost to fix when problems arise. Hence creating more energy to sell. Hence more money in their pockets. Clean air creates better health. Less money to spend on health care. Power Companies can offer incentives for people to consume less energy. New houses built should be energy efficient, passive cooling and heating. Solar panels can be installed. Sometimes if the house is super efficient they can sell electricity back to the grid. If we keep going on the same old same old. We will pay the cost eventually with Polluted Air and Water, and increase prices in energy as our main source is from FINITE supplies. We’re paying for it now with heavy pollution in almost all our bodies of water in the US. Its obvious we have to change the whole system and lifestyle. Its just the reality of it. Acting now rather then putting it off later when our situation is even more dire. These improved and new plants will be one part of the solution and they will create jobs now.

  3. Kim Feil says:

    So does this mean the old, retired coal plants are undated with natural gas burning plants? If so, what if they find out that fracking causes water acquifer contamination? Then the investment made towards using NG was wasted and could have been spent on wind and solar.

    People do not realize that NG could be as dirty as coal once they figure in the environmental footprint/water waste, transportation, methane leakage, ozone/formaldehyde creation from ch4 does to us.