In a Washington Times op-ed this week, Paul blasted the EPA as an “out-of-control agency” that “violate[s] constitutional rights” and “turns everyday life into a federal crime.” Paul opens his op-ed with the curious declarations that the EPA “has done more harm than good,” that regulations cost over 5 percent of our GDP, and that, somehow, these same regulations increased unemployment by 33 percent:
Since its creation in 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency has done more harm than good. EPA regulations cost more than 5 percent of our annual gross domestic product — the equivalent of the costs of defense and homeland security combined. Since EPA regulations have expanded, unemployment in America has increased by 33 percent. This abuse of power by the implementation of regulations infringes upon our basic constitutional rights.
These are all curious declarations in that they’re completely nonsensical. EPA regulations do not cost over 5 percent of the U.S. GDP. In fact, according to recent study, “GDP in 2010 [was] 1.5 percent higher than it would have been without the Clean Air Act.” Clean air regulations saved about $1.3 trillion in public health and environmental benefits, “a value worth more than 9 percent of GDP.”
As for doing more harm than good, EPA regulations helped prevent 18 million child respiratory illnesses in 1990 alone. The Institute for Clean Air Companies estimated that complying with just one clean air standard about 29,000 full time jobs each year for the past seven years. That’s just for the clean air standards. The EPA also regulates water pollution, radiation, pesticides, and chemical safety. According to a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute, implementation of the EPA’s “toxics rule” will lead to 11,000 fewer heart attacks, 12,200 fewer hospital visits, and 225,000 fewer cases of respiratory symptoms.
And as for the idea that EPA regulations are somehow linked to a 33 percent rise in unemployment, the same study notes that regulations actually have very little impact on employment in the long run. Indeed, the same “toxics rule” will likely create 28,000 to 158,000 jobs between now and 2015. Economists agree the current unemployment crisis began when unregulated banks and polluters strip-mined our economy.