Southern California environment news and trends

Study shows new EPA regulations will create jobs

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The AES natural gas power station stands on October 1, 2009 in Long Beach; at that time, the Obama administration authorized the Environmental Protection Agency to move forward on enacting new regulations on greenhouse gas emissions emitted from hundreds of power plants and large industrial facilities.

New regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency won't be "job killers," they'll actually create quite a bit of work for Americans.

Over the next five years, the new rules could create nearly 300,000 jobs annually, a total close to 1.5 million jobs. The new regulations will create jobs and long-term economic benefit in the U.S., according to a study by the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies.

The two EPA rules would set standards to limit power plant pollution. The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule would require states to reduce their power plant emissions that contribute to ozone and particle pollution in other states. The Clean Air Mercury Rule will require power plants to regulate their mercury, arsenic and acid gas emissions by 2015.

The EPA estimates these projects, which will require updating some power plants that are more than 50 years old, will take at least $94 billion.  More than half of the coal-fired plants in the U.S. control sulfur dioxide emissions, but that leaves a little less than half of them to continue emitting dangerous pollutants.  

For every $1 million spent on construction projects, 11 jobs will be created, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The report said this will have a ripple effect and is a solid step towards an improved economy by making use of a large pool of skilled labor and capital sitting "on the sidelines of the economy." 

The upgrades to power plants will incorporate a wide range of sectors, creating a chain of jobs stemming from the implementation of the standards. The supply chain for the projects require companies for engineering, design, construction, maintenance services and those that manufacture materials needed for retrofitting.

The study goes on to profile several states where investments for complinace projects would be made, as well as a few projects that are currently underway.

In about a year, California will implement its own high standards for emissions from factories and power plants with AB 32. The regulations, called the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, will require greenhouse gas emissions be reduced to 1990 levels by the end of 2020. 

Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the Air Resources Board, told NPR that emissions limits will force companies to adapt. 

"Putting that cap on top of that whole system would be the best way to unleash the power of private capital to really get the most out of not just research and development, but actual deployment of green technologies," she said.

Eventually, cars will be required to meet a set of California emissions standards as well. 

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