How limiting pollution encourages job growth, report by CBF

Debunking the “Job Killer” Myth

How Pollution Limits Encourage Jobs in the Chesapeake Bay Region


The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure, home to a dazzling spectrum of spe- cies and an engine for the region’s economy estimated to be worth more than $1 trillion dollars.1 But pollution continues to cause serious damage to the nation’s largest estuary, as shown by beach closures, fish consumption advisories, harm- ful algal blooms, and other afflictions.2

In December 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) re- leased new pollution limits for the Chesapeake Bay to accelerate its cleanup and the recovery of jobs which rely on clean water. The Chesa- peake Bay “Total Maximum Daily Load,” or TMDL, requires water- shed states to reduce pollution flowing into the estuary by 25 percent by 2025 3,4 and pushes the states to follow through with clean-up promises they made in 2010, based on previous plans called Tributary Strategies, which were released in 2004 and 2005. Almost as soon as these pollution limits were an- nounced, however, they were attacked as “job killers” by national agricultural and homebuilder lobbyists and their political allies.5

This rhetoric was part of a broad assault on environ- mental regulations, in general, spearheaded by some members of the U.S. House of Representatives.6

Sweeping assertions about economic ruin caused by environmental regulations are nothing new, and many economists7 have concluded that there is no substance to them.8 Claims that a good quality of life demands a tradeoff between jobs and the environment have repeatedly been proven false9 over the last four decades. In 1976, for example, Henry Ford II warned that clean air and fuel- efficiency standards would “shut down” the Ford Motor Company.10 Thirty-five years later, Ford not only remains in business, it ranks number 10 on the For- tune 500 list, with profits of $6.5 billion in 2010.11 The company is now mar- keting zero-emission electric cars with a sales pitch that they will “reduce your carbon footprint.”12

Critics of 1990 federal Clean Air Act Amendments asserted that tighter air-pol- lution limits would mean “a quiet death for businesses across the country.”13 But these gloomy forecasts did not come true, and in the end, the amend- ments produced a benefit-to-investment ratio of more than 40 to 1, including over $70 billion in human health benefits annually and a significant reduction in acid-rain pollution.14

Debunking the “Job Killer” Myth: How Pollution Limits Encourage Jobs in the Chesapeake Bay Region

Chesapeake Bay Foundation, deCemBer 2011 1

43 Percent:

The increase in the number of environmental industry jobs in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia over the last two decades. Source: Environmental Business International

The cries about Bay pollution limits are a variation on this old song.

This report presents several examples of job creation that have already grown and will likely expand in the Chesapeake region because of water-pollution limits:

 Overall, the number of environmental clean-up and monitoring jobs in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia has surged 43 percent over the last two de- cades, from 98,000 jobs in 1990 to 140,000 jobs in 2009, with a significant portion of this growth com- ing from required sewage and water system improve- ment projects.15

 Construction is underway in Montgomery County, Maryland, on $305 million in stormwater pollution control projects that will create 3,300 construction and engineering jobs.16 Similar stormwater projects could provide work for 178,000 full-time-equivalent jobs across the region over the next five years, includ- ing 36,000 jobs in Maryland, 10,000 in the District

of Columbia, 80,000 in Pennsylvania, and 52,000 in Virginia, according to a projection by the Economic Policy Institute.17

 Among several sewage plant upgrade projects across the region, 118 con- struction workers, engineers, and others are employed in a $63 million project to reduce pollution from the Noman Cole Pollution Control Plant in Fairfax County, Virginia.18 Virginia and Maryland officials plan to invest a combined total of $3 billion19 improving sewage plants over more than a decade, with each billion invested resulting in 20,000 construction-related jobs.20

 Most of the farms in Pennsylvania’s part of the Chesapeake Bay wa- tershed (40,000 farms21) could also create jobs by implement- ing a variety of runoff- and pollution-control practices like this.22 For example, 25 contractors, excavators, and others worked to build manure management pits and a state-of-the-art barn for a dairy farm in Thomas- ville, Pennsylvania.23 The new facilities will reduce runoff of manure into a nearby stream as they help the farmer meet state requirements to maintain a manure management plan.

 About 11,751 temporary jobs are expected to be created over five years if Virginia and the federal governments invest $804 million in farm runoff- control projects such as planting trees and building fences along streams to meet Bay-pollution goals, according to a University of Virginia report.24

It is difficult to predict exactly how many job opportunities will spring up be-

Debunking the “Job Killer” Myth: How Pollution Limits Encourage Jobs in the Chesapeake Bay Region

Chesapeake Bay Foundation, deCemBer 2011 2


100 80 60 40 20

0 ’90 ’00 ’09


’90 ’00 ’09


’90 ’00 ’09


Jobs in environmental industries such as sewage plant construc- tion, pollution cleanup, site testing, etc.

Source: Environmental Business International, Inc.


cause of projects driven by the Chesapeake Bay pollution limits.25 Innovation will likely inspire the birth of a wide variety of new firms that will hire employees for everything from pollution-credit trad- ing,26 to building high-tech barns, low-runoff hous- ing developments, green roofs, and stormwater-con- trol systems that look like gardens beside the road.

Harvard Business School Economist Dr. Michael Por- ter argued in a ground-breaking article in Scientific American more than 20 years ago that well-designed environmental regulations could actually enhance the competitiveness of businesses by encouraging in- novation and by improving the efficiency with which businesses use natural resources. “Strict environmen- tal regulations do not inevitably hinder competitive advantage against rivals; indeed, they often enhance it,” Porter wrote in 1991.27

Cleaner water also will mean more fish, crabs, and oysters, which will translate to more work and income for fishermen, processors, packers, restaurateurs, and people in tourism-related industries. If history is any guide, environmental regu- lations will once again nourish job creation, not bury it.

Read full report here.