There must be something in the water coolers on the other side of the aisle. Earlier this year, at an Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing concerning reducing regulations, a Democrat colleague expressed his “concern” over reducing the regulation on business and stated boldly that increased regulation on businesses creates jobs in America. According to his logic, more regulation creates more requirements for businesses to hire compliance officers to oversee the regulations imposed upon them by government; therefore the government creates more jobs. At first, I thought he was joking, but he was serious. I later asked the witnesses at the hearing if they would rather hire more employees that produce goods and services or hire more compliance officers. You can well imagine their response.
In my home state of Oklahoma, we are dealing with the Environmental Protection Agency changing their rules and again demanding millions of dollars for new modifications for power generating facilities. I am certain that these compliance jobs will be called “green jobs” by Washington when they are hired and when more Oklahoma capital is wasted. Even worse, our state put forth a sound plan to address all the new EPA guidelines, but that plan was rejected by the EPA in favor of a plan that only makes sense to Washington. Arecently released study shows that the EPA’s new “clean-air rules” placed on utilities will increase costs by $17.8 billion annually and raise electricity rates for consumers by 11.8%. Those same rules forced the closing or partial closing of eleven power plants of an Ohio-based power company. Thanks to additional regulations, rates will go up again.
Realizing all these burdens will hurt the economy and drive up costs for consumers, the EPA is attempting to sell its work as a jobs agenda by echoing that same “regulations creates jobs” theme. Monday’s Wall Street Journal editorial had this quote from EPA administrator Lisa Jackson that highlights the agency’s thoughts. She said a new rule was “‘expected to create jobs,’ because it will ‘increase demand for pollution control technology.’” Apparently, government regulators and compliance officers are “green jobs.”
Ever expanding regulatory burdens on traditional energy producers only hurt the economy by increasing prices for the consumers, pushing companies out of business and bogging down the industry. The EPA counters that these jobs are being replaced by those same “green energy” jobs, but as Politico reported, this new green economy is not coming along as fast as the President had hoped. It is not difficult to figure out why. These new forms of energy are not yet viable, and they will not be for years to come. In the end, the EPA is only reshuffling jobs, not creating new jobs, and their irrational pace of regulation is driving up the cost of energy.
When will we understand that stable regulations allow traditional energy to thrive? Consistent rules allow energy companies to put more money into research and development, which, in turn, create more jobs, including future alternative energy jobs. If we give the private sector more freedom to develop the most efficient sources of energy, everyone wins; consumers will pay less, companies will grow (which means they will hire more people) and our economy will be stronger. Maybe it’s time for the EPA to start testing the water in their own coolers.