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Greenhouse Gas Regulations And Job Growth Linked In New Study

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A study from a multi-state air quality agency suggests that there may be a huge economic incentive to enacting a clean fuels standard (CFS) and pursuing low-carbon fuels in the Northeast.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) organization issued a report showing the economic benefits of requiring a 10 percent reduction in carbon pollution from all fuels over the next 10 years.

The study, "Economic Analysis of a Program to Promote Clean Transportation Fuels in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic Region," which made economic projections for 11 states from Maine to Maryland and the District of Columbia, calls a CFS “a fuel-neutral, market-based program” that “would allow all fuels to compete based on their greenhouse gas impacts and costs.”

NESCAUM also advocates pursuing low carbon fuels which “would reduce carbon emissions and those of other harmful pollutants, enhance energy independence and reduce vulnerability to price swings in imported petroleum, and create jobs in the region.”

The report claims that by the tenth year, there would be significant job creation and increased economic output as a result of a CFS. The standard would only limit pollution levels from common fuels, and not try to regulate which fuels are actually used, explains Nathanael Greene with the NRDC.

In terms of numbers, the study argues that by the tenth year:

  • Employment increases by 9,490 to 50,700 jobs. Gross regional product, a measure of the states’ economic output, increases by 2.1 billion to 4.9 billion.
  • Household disposable income increases by 1 billion to 3.3 billion.
  • Gasoline and diesel demand drops 12 to 29 percent.
  • Carbon pollution from transportation is cut by 5 to 9 percent.

The New York Times reports that the standards suggested in the NESCAUM plan are similar to ones already in place in California.

This news comes when several Republican presidential candidates are lambasting organizations like the EPA and arguing that increased government regulation won't promote growth in an already stagnant economy. In June, presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) suggested that the EPA should be renamed “the job-killing organization of America.”

Writing for Earth & Industry, Zachary Shahan writes that green R&D in the automotive industry and increases in fuel standards have already created 155,000 jobs across the country, according to a joint report by the NRDC, the United Auto Workers Union and the National Wildlife Federation.

Shahan says that another report found increased investment and the higher fuel standards announced by President Obama last month are projected to create an additional 150,000 jobs in the next decade.

CORRECTION: NESCAUM's study used an economic model that made projections for 11 states and D.C., but the organization's membership is limited to the states listed on its website, and not D.C. as previously stated.

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