NPR for Northern Colorado
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

White House Study Explains Why GOP Targets EPA


NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports that a new White House study sheds some light on why the agency has become such a target.

ELIZABETH SHOGREN: Representative Michele Bachmann echoed a lot of her Republican colleagues sentiments when she lashed out at the EPA during a CNN presidential debate.

MICHELE BACHMANN: There is no other agency like the EPA. It should really be renamed the Job Killing Organization of America.

SHOGREN: Some business representatives say the report only captures part of why EPA rules hurt so much.

JEFFREY HOLMSTEAD: It's a combination of cost, and paperwork and delay that is making a lot of companies feel like they can't really operate in the U.S. any more.

SHOGREN: Industry lawyer Jeffrey Holmstead headed EPA's air pollution programs under President Bush. He says there are lots of uncounted costs of EPA rules. For instance, he represents a big power plant project in Texas that's been stalled for six months waiting to see if the EPA will require a new kind of permit.

HOLMSTEAD: If it weren't for EPA's new greenhouse gas permitting requirements, there would be several thousand jobs being filled in Corpus Christi right now.

SHOGREN: Holmstead says EPA rules are stifling job growth. But...

GINA MCCARTHY: We have never seen evidence of that. In fact, our rules tend to create jobs.

SHOGREN: Gina McCarthy heads the EPA's air programs. She stresses that the same White House report also shows the benefits of EPA rules outweigh their costs by at least three-to-one.

MCCARTHY: We are proving something that many people simply in their gut don't want to believe, which is that the agency is actually successful in bringing public health improvements, in a way that doesn't negatively impact the economy.

SHOGREN: Harvard Economics Professor Robert Stavins is one of them. His research shows regulations can create some short-term jobs. Workers are needed to make and install pollution control devices and build cleaner power plants. In the long term, Stavins says, the rules don't have a big impact on jobs one way or another - although you wouldn't know that by listening to the politicians.

ROBERT STAVINS: What's unfortunate about this is those who support more environmental regulation have promoted it as job creation, rather than as environmental protection. And those who are opposed to it, for whatever reasons, have featured it as job killing. In fact it is neither.

SHOGREN: Michael Greenstone is an economist at MIT.

MICHAEL GREENSTONE: Yes, regulations raise the cost of doing business. So it's not surprising that firms that are regulated reduce the number of people they hire. But what you're hoping is that the regulations also produce lots of benefits.

SHOGREN: Elizabeth Shogren. NPR News, Washington.

INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Elizabeth Shogren is an NPR News Science Desk correspondent focused on covering environment and energy issues and news.