Business voice: EPA protects health, spurs job creation in clean energy sector

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Our nation’s economy faces many problems. For Upton to single out the EPA as a contributor to our economic struggles makes no sense. If anything, the contrary is more accurate, and Upton’s attack against the EPA illustrates just how completely the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee has swallowed the Kool Aid fed to him by Big Oil, Big Coal and every other special interest seeking to weaken the EPA and put people’s health at risk so they can rake in more profits. 

The fact is the EPA has opened the doors to innovation and new economic opportunities. By spurring entrepreneurs who have good ideas and the drive to work hard, the EPA has helped give rise to countless small businesses in clean energy, advanced lighting, pollution control and more, which in turn are creating jobs. 

According to the Office of Management and Budget, the EPA generates up to $551 billion in economic benefits every year – many more times than the cost of compliance, which topped at $29 billion a year. In Michigan, the clean technology sector has helped put more than 80,000 people back to work in jobs ranging from research to manufacturing to construction, according to the Brookings Institution. These proud Michiganders are just some of the 2.7 million people across the nation who are building the clean energy economy, thanks to innovations and entrepreneurship that the EPA has helped spark. 

The EPA is also an essential tool in the fight to protect public health and save health care costs, saying its enforcement of the Clean Air Act will help prevent at least 230,000 premature deaths annually from pollution-related diseases, while saving $2 trillion in health care costs by 2020.

The EPA is providing the foundation for our nation to build a clean energy economy, with a diversified and skilled workforce that can compete with anyone in the world. By taking on dirty coal plants and corporate polluters, the EPA is sending a signal that our nation will not sit on the sidelines while our land, air and water are harmed. It is also keeping our nation competitive, helping create local jobs instead of allowing them to get shipped off to other countries, which are investing aggressively in clean energy.

The public and the marketplace are demanding more clean energy, more accountability from utilities and more 21st century jobs. To meet this growing demand, companies are investing in a wide range of clean energy projects. In Michigan, these include the first machining project in decades to build wind turbine parts that will bring jobs to Michigan from abroad. They include solar innovations that are leading the global curve. They include companies like my own, which grew from a start-up formed in a garage into a company that does business around the globe to help other businesses lower their energy costs. And they include advanced battery companies that are creating an entire supply chain for the auto industry and creating thousands of jobs – including in Upton’s own backyard – in a state that once knew only the hemorrhaging of manufacturing jobs. 

Upton’s senseless attacks against an EPA that has helped create jobs and protect the public health don’t make sense. His blind and ideologically driven defense of Big Coal and Big Oil show a politician clinging to the past, woefully behind the times, refusing to embrace the future. 

David McKinney is CEO of Clean Light Green Light, based in Mount Clemens, Mich., and is a member of Michigan Businesses for Clean Energy (www.MIcleanenergynow.biz).

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