‘Job-Killing’ EPA Regulations for Chesapeake Bay Will Create 35 Times as Many Jobs as Keystone XL Pipeline

by Michael Conathan

If rhetoric from the Republican Presidential candidates is to be believed, the Environmental Protection Agency is “a tool to crush the private enterprise system” (Mitt Romney), “a cemetery for jobs” (Rick Perry), and “should be re-named the job-killing organization of America” (Michele Bachmann). But it’s a safe bet the tens of thousands of people who may soon find jobs implementing EPA regulations aimed at cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay would disagree with those assertions.

A new report released today by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation highlights the job creation numbers — 240,000 full-time jobs — expected to come from achieving new pollution goals set by the EPA’s “Total Maximum Daily Load” restrictions. Finalized in December 2010, these rules require a 25 percent reduction of pollution flowing into the Bay by 2025 and have already spurred state and federal investment in stormwater mitigation projects, upgrades at sewage treatment facilities, addition of power plant smokestack scrubbers, and improvements to management of agricultural runoff and livestock waste management.

The Bay’s watershed covers more than 64,000 square miles including all of Maryland and the District of Colombia, large areas of Virginia and Pennsylvania, and portions of Delaware, New York, and West Virginia. Therefore infrastructure projects to reduce pollution will encompass a massive region and provide a major boost to the economy.

Of course, the clock is already ticking on a newly minted, 60 day, congressional mandate for the President to issue a decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that would carry dirty Canadian tar sands oil from the great white north across America’s heartland and endanger a critical aquifer. By setting up what one former pipeline inspector called a potential “disaster,” the pipeline would ultimately deliver massive quantities of oil to the Gulf Coast only to see the vast majority of it exported.

Keystone proponents, including House Speaker John Boehner, have asserted that the project would immediately create “tens of thousands” of American jobs. These claims seem just a tad hyperbolic now that the oil company itself has conceded that the actual number of jobs that would be created is closer to 6,000 to 6,500, and would only last for two years.

Meanwhile, the jobs spawned by coastal restoration and pollution reduction projects in the Chesapeake are already here, and they are permanent. According to the Foundation’s report, environmental clean-up and monitoring jobs have increased by 43 percent — 42,000 jobs — over the last two decades in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia alone. Montgomery County, MD has begun work on a stormwater pollution control project that will create 3,300 jobs in that county alone. And these numbers don’t begin to account for the increase in employment opportunities and revenue for small businesses that depend on a healthy coastal ecosystem, from tourism to commercial and recreational fishing and aquaculture.

This is yet another example of how strong environmental standards can create new employment opportunities. This is the type of strategy we need – cleaning up pollution, increasing efficiency, developing renewable energy – that will make this country stronger.

When they talk about the EPA, Republicans use the term “job-killing” with great frequency. As Iñigo Montoya famously said to Vizzini in The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

Michael Conathan is Director of Ocean Policy at the Center for American Progress.

38 Responses to ‘Job-Killing’ EPA Regulations for Chesapeake Bay Will Create 35 Times as Many Jobs as Keystone XL Pipeline

  1. Spike says:

    The Right don’t give a fig about jobs – when they talk jobs replace the word jobs with profits to get what they really mean, and usually the profits of certain rather unsavoury industries at that.

  2. Mike#22 says:

    Credit is due to Obama for his leadership on this huge water quality problem.

    May 12, 2009:

    Excellent report by the CBF.

  3. Brian R Smith says:

    Michael Conathan, thanks for a great summary of the political manipulation of the XL jobs numbers, and for the core thought: the contrasting provability of a steady rise in green jobs, Chesapeake being one of many examples. Has anyone tried to aggregate all the green jobs numbers nationwide? If Obama ever steps up to the pulpit, this number, and the growth curve, would be his green economy argument #1.

    One more layer of analysis should be applied to XL (or any) jobs numbers that claim jobs “creation”:

    Is a worker, say an engineer or welder, newly trained into his/her job, creating an entirely new position? Or is he/she leaving a job somewhere else, in which case, no new job is “created”? I’m guessing this filter would bring any given XL jobs estimates down by 90% if actual jobs creation is the bottom line.

  4. Leif says:

    Western society has spent over 200 years exploiting the resources of the commons and the backs, hearts, minds and lives of most, to amass the riches of today. The 1% have used every method, both fair and foul, to focus most of that wealth into their pockets. Whereas, “We the People” have acquired degraded ecosystems, polluted air, earth, water and oceans. The best science the world over foresees climatic disruption of increasing magnitude for generations to come. An existential threat to the survival of most, those without the means of survival in the alternate “reality world” that the rich, at least for the moment, have created for themselves. The time is long past for Capitalism and Corporations/”People” to work for humanity and earth’s life support systems first and foremost, and profits second. Now that Corporations/”People” are legal “people,” I would think that status came with ALL the responsibilities of a civil society. Not just “money=free speech” part. Respect the rights of others comes to mind. Wantonly kill someone, you stand trial. Rather than pay taxes, corporations, (charged to maximize profits for the shareholder), find it more profitable to use their money to advertise, lobby, grease media & Government, pander judges, manipulate elections, and more. Mostly tax free! With a little back ally push now and then, very profitable. Surely something I could not accomplish on my own. Sustainability will require all hands on deck, working FOR the common good of all. If that ain’t full employment, I do not know what is. Only “Green Jobs” can get it done. Only Wall Street, Corporations, etc., has the money. Only the Military has the discipline to get the “most bang for the buck.” Only “we the people” have the backs and brawn. Only survival can be enough motivation to get it accomplished. The only problem is getting enough people to realize that the time is NOW! The time has come for Capitalism and Corporation/People to recognize that their survival also demands they accept their “Brothers” must as well. “All MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL.” Rule one, learn to play nice with others! More rules forthcoming.

  5. John Tucker says:

    Regulation, standards, the implementation of new technology and change ARE what creates new wealth and jobs in the US. They have always been.

  6. Rose says:

    Right On and please Write On…

  7. MichaelD1026 says:

    Are the Republicans responsible for this windfall of job possibilities? I didn’t think so; they’re too interested in legislating women’s bodies, gay folks’ bedrooms and the denial of any kind of consumer protection.

  8. Christopher S. Johnson says:

    Hey guys, I’d love to promote this on my FB Wall today but there are two problems. Can you help?
    1.) Once described in the body of the article, many of the jobs sound like they were created in the past, not in the near future. What does that mean for the accuracy of the headline?
    2.) The link for the claim that most of the XL oil will be exported is dead. I’ve tried in vain to find credible evidence for this claim. It would have been a very important talking point to have over the last year, were it true. But I never found it and I don’t recall McKibben using it as a point either. Surely he would have if it were so.

    Help me help promote this article by making it rock solid in my mind first.

  9. Carl says:

    Leif only the military knows how to get the most bang for the buck?Was that tongue in cheek. Really you cant see that both the green jobs and the traditional jobs have to work together and between the two of them we get one good solution.Real practical solutions are needed not a fanatic rush to agendas we can’t afford .Who pays for the clean up of the Chesapeake bay tax dollars and that is us.those jobs are not for profit and can’t be self sustaining beyond some point.Work is a for profit enterprise when it wasn’t it was a failure over time.The two together and it will work.

  10. Leif says:

    Why pipe it to Texas with off shore shipping available when closer refineries are available on rail lines and distribution lines?

  11. Christopher S. Johnson says:

    Houston has more refining capacity than almost anybody in North America. And I would need proof if I were to use it as a rallying cry, or in an article (!). I would be taken to task for just using conjecture in a campaign to stop the XL.

  12. Jelly Jam says:

    Yeah, the GOP will never sign on to this common sense notion that investing in our country in positive ways and taking care of it is beneficial for all.

    Why? Because they don’t care about everyone else. The GOP is represented by two kinds of people: 1) Passionate idiots and 2) The Conniving and Greedy. The passionate idiots have NO idea what they’re talking about and never base their opinions on fact or logic. The conniving and greedy play off the stupidity of the passionate idiots to fill their pockets as much as possible. It’s a terrible yet symbiotic relationship, but what that means is that helping the average person is not on their radar at all.

  13. muddythewaters says:

    regarding the Houston connection: three years ago, plans were in place to connect the Canadian oil fields to the then Husky refinery in Lima Ohio. That site has the capacity and distribution network to accommodate both processing and dispersal. See why that deal fell thru

  14. Nancy K says:

    Republicans want us to believe that the Keystone pipeline is a good thing…..that it will lessen our dependence on foreign oil (and they probably have a bridge they will sell us, too). What they’re NOT telling us is that the Keystone XL is an export pipeline and is all about profits – not jobs, etc. as they would like us to believe. According to presentations to investors, Gulf Coast refiners plan to refine the cheap, dirty Canadian crude into diesel and other products for export to Europe and Latin America…..and PROCEEDS FROM THESE EXPORTS WILL BE TAX FREE. Perhaps the following will tell you more:

  15. Leif says:

    Texas refineries will not go out of business for lack of some Canadian tar to process. I would submit an alternative reason. That being the politics are more supportive of lax pollution controls and thus higher profits. or- Perhaps some of the investors in the tar sands, Keystone venture, also have a vested interest in those Texas Refineries. One thing for sure, profits take precedent over Earth’s life support systems. The rock solid proof of that is all around.

  16. Michael Conathan says:

    The link should go to this thinkprogress piece

    As for the jobs numbers, if you go to the report itself, the executive summary details the jobs that will be created to fulfill the EPA requirements. While many jobs have already been created over the past two decades, the 230,000 number represents new jobs that will be created to carry out the work needed to meet pollution reduction goals. Additionally, here’s a link to a WSJ piece on the study which cites 240,000-250,000 new jobs.

  17. Leif says:

    No Carl, that was not “tongue in cheek” but mean every word. Corporations came out of WW II looking just fine as I recall. As well as the economy. The jump for the Military is to learn to nurture rather than kill. A lot less Post Traumatic Stress to deal with if they did.

  18. Delacosta John says:

    The 1% or Riches people is not interested in JOBS, and are doing exactly what they want, PLANING FOR THE NEXT DOLLAR THAT COMES…Always remember they are the ones that collect, because of there prepared Establishment, anyone who wants to attract, MUST BE PREPARED bottom line. this one has plenty of room to maneuver.

  19. Leif says:

    Good finds Debbie and Micheal. I rest my case Christopher.

  20. NatashaDelCardo says:

    Link to “vast majority of it exported” leads to this same page. I’d like to see that article … thank you. For all.

  21. Brian Wood says:

    All you teachers, soldiers, firemen, policemen, et. al. need to settle down and remember that government never created one single job–Republican mantra.

  22. Cugel says:

    A gain for the Republicans from the cancellation of XL would be that the number of jobs which it “would have” created can increase without limit. I expect it to be at least 50,000 by November.

  23. Mike#22 says:

    The clean up will easily pay for itself in increased fisheries harvests, increased tourism, decreased illness from water born illness, decreased water treatment costs, etc.

    Letting pollution happen is almost always more costly than keeping pollution minimized.

    Some good figures here:

  24. Christopher S. Johnson says:

    Thanks for the links, guys. I read them all. I’m actively against the Tar Sands pipeline. I march about in the street about it, and educate my friends through Facebook and in person. My day job is as an editor on environmental films. If there is anything I have learned over the years in these fights, it’s having accurate info, because groups of opponents are waiting for us to trip up. It’s like handing them a missile to use against us. I can’t use this article above as an education tool in my fight and your links didn’t fix that.

    1.) I’m already aware of the exaggerated claim about XL jobs. That’s been well documented.

    2.) The Wall Street Journal article is clearer about the *future* jobs angle (which is what I would need to use this talking point in an anti-XL conversation. The article above is confusing about this. However I did notice that the WSJ and report numbers include *indirect* job creation, which is speculative and may be open to criticism. Still, even the raw direct jobs are impressive and useable in an argument.

    3.) None of your links prove that “the vast majority” of the oil will be exported. Those are speculative pieces that demonstrate that it’s a reasonable suspicion, and possible, but that’s all. So what if I use that speculation as an argument and it doesn’t happen to a great degree in the end? I get the short end of the political capital stick! It’s my belief that’s why McKibben isn’t shouting this point. It is not known as a fact. If it was, it would have changed the face of the debate this past summer. It would have been a golden arrow for me and my friends.

    Just a few qualifying words could go really far in making this useful. Trust me, the hyaenas are waiting for a stumble.

  25. Christopher S. Johnson says:

    Forgive typos and grammer. In vacation mode ;-)

  26. Johnathan says:

    Some of EPA regulations have a negative effect on the Job pool, Others help it out.
    Remember where the money is coming from. If a job is created by a government entity you and I are paying for their employment. To some that is a major negative because they do not care about eh service and work that is provided from these kind of programs. But all the same it is a service that some of us want and arguably need.
    Backing up a bit we should note that not all EPA regulations are breadwinners. Some prevent legitimate energy growth by slowing the process for application above and beyond the needs of a project. Other times the process works just fine. Again there is some give and take here. the problem is wheather or not the balance we currently have is one that we want. if it is then we have nothing to fret over. if it is not then we need to make changes to this system WITH the understanding that there will not be some magic cure that allows all of our needs and desires to be met. but that isn’t to say that we can fight about this and fit a few more, or a few less desired outcomes into the regulatory legislation.

  27. john reikowskyj says:

    I live 10 min. boat ride from the bay near Heathsville Va. and I can assure you that nitrogen runoff, runoff from the poultry industry and suburbia are killing the bay and when it dies there will be irreparable damage to jobs from Baltimore to Hampton Roads, the state of Va. has a pitiful record when it comes to protecting this great natural resource. We need the EPA to step in and do what ever is necessary to clean up the bay watershed, period!

  28. JCM says:

    Only the Military has the discipline to get the “most bang for the buck.”

    The US military has not won a war in over six decades.

    All military spending is inflationary – a defense investment is made and America winds up with something (a runway or a submarine) that does not increase national productivity.

    Domestic military spending primary function is to redistribute wealth from productive areas of America to those areas that are less productive.

  29. JCM says:

    All fossil fuels are market failures.

    The price of fossil fuel does not include environmental destruction (mercury), negative health effects (cancer 20 miles downwind from refineries) or early mortality.

    The fossil fuel industry is analogous to a septic tank cleaning business that can only make a profit if it is allowed to dispose of it’s collected truck loads of sewage in the community swimming pool.

  30. h.m. says:

    Hey, many more jobs will eventually come from that oil sewage pipeline once it is realized that it will require a lot of workers to deal with the crud that results after removing the oil! And really, what the hell are they going to do with that super nasty stuff anyway–and why don’t we hear anything about that side product, and what will be done with it?

  31. Beverly Smith says:

    I would like to know how to forward this website to the White House and President Obama, as I am trying to stop the Keystone XL, not only because the shale oil has been proven to be too expensive to clean up, but the GASH down the face of America is abhorrent!!!!!

  32. Theodora Crawford says:

    What happens to folks living in the pipeline path? One woman (third generation farmer) spoke of eminent domaine destroying her livelihood and lifestyle…there must be others so threatened.

    I’ve also read occasional comments of oil spills and sloppy construction…from courageous whistle-blowers who should be protected and praised!”

    Two months laughable limit to reasonable evaluation. Let’s hope Obama takes advantage and denies permission to proceed.

  33. Joe Romm says:


  34. ianam says:

    If rhetoric from the Republican Presidential candidates is to be believed

    Not ever.

  35. ianam says:

    Some prevent legitimate energy growth by slowing the process for application above and beyond the needs of a project.

    Evidence, please. And it’s not enough to say “some this, some that” … the proportions critically matter.

  36. ianam says:

    Rick Perry already numbered them in the millions.

  37. John Steinsvold says:

    An Alternative to Capitalism (if the people knew about it, they would demand it)

    Several decades ago, Margaret Thatcher claimed: “There is no alternative”. She was referring to capitalism. Today, this negative attitude still persists.

    I would like to offer an alternative to capitalism for the American people to consider. Please click on the following link. It will take you to an essay titled: “Home of the Brave?” which was published by the Athenaeum Library of Philosophy:

    John Steinsvold

    “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”
    ~ Albert Einstein