Policy

Regulations Are Killing 1.9 Million Jobs

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Arkansas power plant opposed by Sierra Club and Audubon Society lawsuits

So says a new study backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  The study identified 351 energy production projects across the country that are being held up by various regulatory barriers, NIMBY lawsuits, and the like. (Of course, such a study needs to be taken with a grain of salt, although my experience as a reporter who has been covering the energy sector for a couple of decades now comports with the study's general findings.) The researchers do offer this caveat:

…we do not believe that all of the subject projects will be approved or constructed even in the absence of any legal and regulatory barriers. Also, as with all economic forecasts, we recognize that there is an element of uncertainty. This could be true here because, to our knowledge, this is the first empirical study to quantify the macroeconomic and employment impact of the regulatory barriers imposed on the development and operation of so many energy projects. Consequently, we believe additional work is needed to improve the list of energy projects and to refine this study's methodology.

OK, that being said, I believe that this study's findings are more plausible than the myriad studies that purport to show that subsidized green energy projects create more jobs than they kill. So what does the Chamber-backed study find? From the executive summary:

In aggregate, planning and construction of the subject projects (the "investment phase") would generate $577 billion in direct investment, calculated in current dollars. The indirect and induced effects (what we term multiplier effects) would generate an approximate $1.1 trillion increasein U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), including $352 billion in employment earnings, based on present discounted value (PDV) over an average construction period of seven years. 1 Furthermore, we estimate that as many as 1.9 million jobs would be required during each year of construction.

The operation of the subject projects (the "operations phase") would generate $99 billion in direct annual output, calculated in current dollars, including multiplier effects, this additional annual output would yield $145 billion in increased GDP, $35 billion in employment earnings, based on PDV, and an average 791,200 jobs per year of operation. Assuming twenty years of operations across all subject project types, we estimate the operations phase would yield a potential long term benefit of $2.3 trillion in GDP, including $1.0 trillion in employment earnings, based on PDV.

Therefore, the total potential economic and employment benefits of the subject projects, if constructed and operated for twenty years, would be approximately $3.4 trillion in GDP, including $1.4 trillion in employment earnings, based on PDV, and an additional one million or more jobs per year.

If you're interested in evaluating the claims yourself, go here to download the whole study.