Oh goodie–the Environmental Protection Agency released new air quality standards at the tune of $1.4 billion in additional regulatory costs annually nationwide. Now, it only slightly reduced the “nonattainment” standard from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 70 ppb, but the old rule was still an economic disaster. Nonattainment areas are parts of the country that haven’t met federal air quality standards. Of course, those affected areas must improve their air quality, though it often means reducing economic activity.
Based on the 2008 75 ppb standard, American Action Forum nnoted lost wages that soared into the billions and hundreds of thousands of job losses between 2008-2013.
Using the 2008 numbers, AAF analyzed 442 counties from 28 states. Two hundred and thirty two were impacted by the 2008 air quality standards, though the policy institute admitted that only 208 counties had complete data in their analysis of the regulation and its impact on wages and the labor market:
We find that in nonattainment counties, the ozone regulation was associated with a 0.4 percentage point decline in the annual growth rate of total wage earnings. This translates to a loss of $54 million per year in total wage earnings on average in each county. By 2013, nonattainment counties on average lost $272 million in total wage earnings due to the ozone regulation. This means that the ozone regulation reduced total wage earnings by $56.5 billion across all the observed nonattainment counties.
In addition, we find that between 2008 and 2013 the ozone regulation reduced the annual growth rate of average annual worker pay by 0.3 percentage point. This means the regulation cost each worker on average $140 per year. So by 2013, each worker in nonattainment counties lost a total of $690.
By 2013, each nonattainment county lost 1,200 jobs on average. Across all the observed ozone regulated counties, this adds up to a loss of 242,000 jobs total. To put the employment figure in perspective, the U.S. economy created 223,000 jobs in July 2015.
On top of this comes the fact that Obama’s energy policy–the Clean Power Plan–could potentially gut millions of jobs in the black and Hispanic communities. It’s already placing mostly red states and fixed-income seniors in the regulatory crosshairs. And most Americans expect their electrical bills will go up if this is fully implemented. It’s an underreported issue on the 2016 campaign trail, but the political battle is just as intense as the health care debate. It’s also an increasingly bipartisan issue as well. In all, more than half the states have joined a lawsuit against the president's environmental agenda.