EPA, greens strike back against Republican ‘job-killing’ message

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and green groups are ramping up their campaign to counter GOP claims that air pollution rules are “job-killers.”

Their efforts come ahead of Capitol Hill hearings this week that will feature a barrage of GOP and industry attacks on Obama administration regulations.

“Since EPA’s inception, we’ve heard concerns that meeting reasonable health standards hurts bottom lines and prevents job creation. But in truth, updating environmental standards not only closes pollution loopholes, but levels the playing field and provides certainty to businesses to create jobs,” said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on Tuesday.

Jackson — who said the Clean Air Act has provided “trillions of dollars in health benefits” — spoke to a “green jobs” conference hosted by the Blue Green Alliance, a coalition that includes the Sierra Club and the United Steel Workers.

“The total benefits of the Clean Air Act amount to more than 40 times the cost of regulation. For every dollar we have spent, we’ve gotten $40 in benefits in return. So say what you want about EPA’s business sense, we know how to get a return on our investment,” said Jackson, who noted that the air law has sharply cut pollution over four decades even as GDP has risen 207 percent over that time.

The conference is also featuring the release of a new report that says looming EPA air pollution rules will create scores of jobs.

The study from the green investor group Ceres looks at a pair of upcoming rules to limit pollutants from power plants, including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury, lead and others.

It notes that “investments driven by the EPA’s two new air quality rules will create nearly 1.5 million jobs, or nearly 300,000 jobs a year on average over the next five years — and at a critical moment for a struggling economy.”

Jackson’s comments and the report come a day before the EPA chief will appear at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on legislation to block EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gases.

Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) has also pledged to focus on other EPA rules he alleges will cost jobs and burden the economy.

And on Thursday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on “regulatory impediments to job-creation.”

Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has solicited comments from scores of industry trade groups about Obama administration rules they believe will create burdens.

Various EPA regulations emerged as a top target of groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Chemistry Council.