Can you have economic growth and ever-tightening environmental regulation?
Environment and Energy Daily reports on Carol Browner’s new Center for American Progress podcast:
Browner, who led EPA under President Clinton, said that aside from cleaning up the air, the agency’s rules would also stimulate job creation by requiring utilities to retrofit existing plants and spurring new investment.
“Every single regulation ends up with somebody having to build something, design something, install something and manage something,” she said. “Those are all American jobs.
“I think we have a long history in this country of understanding and believing that we can both grow our economy and protect our environment,” she added.
First, the notion that regulations-cause-jobs is the broken window fallacy. It is a false, and destructive notion. We need jobs that produce value.
Reducing emissions for the sake of reducing emissions does not produce net tangible societal benefits — it rather just redistributes wealth.
Next, while it’s true that we’ve had a tremendous amount of economic growth since the birth of EPA and the onslaught of the agency’s overregulation, the reality is that we’ve been such a rich nation that we could afford to indulge overregulation.
That, however, is no longer the case.
Environmental protection is an expensive luxury — look around the world to verify that poor nations have worse environmental conditions — and overregulation is simply wanton destruction of wealth and the hope of obtaining it.
Until the next economic boom that creates so much wealth that we can afford to burn scarce societal resources, we will need to be very careful to ensure that the costs of regulation produce tangible and (at least) commensurate benefits.