Forthcoming power plant regulations by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are expected to create thousands of jobs installing pollution control equipment, according to a new report by a coalition of environmental and public interest organizations.
The report by Ceres and the Political Economy Research Institute predicts the EPA regulations will trigger capital improvements by the electric power industry totaling $200 billion in 36 Eastern and Midwestern states over the next five years and create about 290,000 new jobs on average in each of those years.
In Pennsylvania, the report said, utilities could spend $4.7 billion on pollution controls and $3.3 billion on new power plants, generating 59,000 jobs and more than offsetting the 1,272 jobs that could be lost when utility companies close old power plants that can't meet new pollution controls.
Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio and Tennessee are projected to gain even more jobs than Pennsylvania.
James Heintz, associate director of PERI at the University of Massachusetts and an author of the report, said the EPA's pollution transport regulation expected later this year and another regulation limiting power plant emissions of hazardous pollutants like mercury, lead and arsenic will produce health benefits and create thousands of direct and indirect jobs.
"The Eastern and Midwestern states we studied will experience a net gain on jobs, once all investments in pollution control and new generation capacity are completed," Dr. Heintz said. "We need to move beyond the outdated idea that environmental protection compromises the ongoing growth of our economy."
The report was released Tuesday at the Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference in Washington, D.C., as efforts mounted in Congress to stop the EPA from proposing and eventually adopting the regulations.
David Foerter, executive director of the Institute of Clean Air Companies, an organization of companies that produce pollution control equipment, said he supported new regulations and noted that an experienced work force is available for power plant construction and upgrade work that would employ engineers, electricians, boilermakers and other construction trades.
The study also found that permanent operation and maintenance jobs would be created at new power plants as well as at plants that have pollution controls added, resulting in a net gain of 4,200 in those types of jobs.
"The regulations will save lives and put America back to work at a time when that's needed," Mr. Foerter said.
The soon-to-be-set EPA clean air rules, focusing on reducing sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions and setting limits on hazardous air pollutants, are expected to be finalized later this year.