Don’t Blame The EPA For The Bad Economy

By Matthew Cameron

There’s a lot wrong with the U.S. economy — that much everyone can agree upon. But beyond that, there are a variety of different hypotheses about what exactly is keeping growth sluggish and joblessness high. Consider the latest theory that has been cooked up by House conservatives who are attempting to justify their assault on federal environmental regulations:

The unusual breadth of the attack, explained Representative Mike Simpson, a Republican from Idaho, is a measure of his party’s intense frustration over cumbersome environmental rules.

“Many of us think that the overregulation from E.P.A. is at the heart of our stalled economy,” Mr. Simpson said, referring to the Environmental Protection Agency. “I hear it from Democratic members as well.”

Readers will recall, however, that the latest BLS jobs data told a different story:

Indeed, mining and oil and gas extraction, which tend to be the primary targets of environmental regulation, are among the fastest growing sectors of the economy. Now, perhaps it is the case that oppressive environmental regulations are the cause of the logging industry’s unusually poor economic performance. But it seems more likely that this is due to a slowdown in new home construction, which could be remedied more effectively by boosting aggregate demand.