STUDY: Contrary To GOP Claims, EPA Regulations Create Jobs

So-called “job killing regulations” have become a favorite target of Republicans since the economic downturn, as legislators have denounced the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Labor Relations Board, and virtually every other government agency that writes rules. The EPA has emerged as target number one, with Republican presidential candidates promising to shut it down for good and the GOP-controlled House of Representatives seeking to defund it at every turn.

According to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute, however, the “job-killing” part of the phrase “job-killing regulation” is built largely on myth. Last year, EPI released a report that found that several of the EPA’s proposed environmental regulations would actually create jobs. Now that the EPA has finalized a rule regulating toxic waste, EPI has used that rule to analyze whether such regulations are, indeed, job-killers. Once again, it found the opposite to be true, and said the new rule will actually create more jobs than it previously estimated:

Previous studies (such as Bivens 2011) that have estimated the jobs impact of specific proposed regulatory changes have probably understated the gains to employment spurred by the rule, likely by roughly 50%. But even given these understatements, the effects of some specific regulatory changes — such as the toxics rule, the largest single air-quality rule currently being proposed by the EPA — are surely positive for job creation. […]

Even with multiplier effects, these estimates translate into job gains of roughly 117,000 to 135,000 in 2015, depending on whether one or both offsets to the job-depressing effects of price increases are used. … But what this reassessment does make clear is that it is near-inconceivable that adoption of the rule will cost any jobs at all in the near term. The effect will be unambiguously positive.


The study is hardly the first indication that the GOP’s “job-killing regulations” rhetoric is built on a myth. The EPA’s regulation of the coal industry helped boost industry employment to a 15-year high, and EPA regulations aimed at cleaning up Chesapeake Bay would create 35 times more jobs than the GOP’s favorite pet project, the Keystone XL pipeline. The GOP’s spiel has even fallen flat with business leaders large and small, with one CEO saying there was “no question” the new regulations would create jobs.