Climate change rules will spur US economy - EPA chief

08 March 2010 22:49  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson said on Monday that climate change mandates and other regulations by her office will drive US innovation and economic development.

She defended her agency’s 7 December “endangerment finding” and EPA plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions by US industry.

“Without a clear picture of greenhouse gas regulations, there will be little incentive to invest in clean energy jobs,” she said, dismissing claims by industry that the EPA’s plans to sharply curtail emissions “will be the death knell of our economy”.

While conceding that emission reductions will carry costs, she said that “The economic costs of unchecked climate change will be orders of magnitude higher for the next generation than it would be for us to take action today”

In a speech to the National Press Club, she said her agency’s endangerment finding was historic and represents “long overdue action on climate change”.

Jackson said she counts the endangerment finding as one of her agency’s greatest achievements in the first two years of the Obama administration, along with EPA policies “restoring the rightful place of science as the first factor in all of our decisions”.

The EPA is the target of several lawsuits and petitions by industry groups and state governments charging that the agency relied on discredited global warming data and findings in issuing its emissions rules.

She said that environmental regulation by the EPA has and will continue to play a vital role “as a critical driver of our economic success, our capacity for innovation and invention”.

Jackson cited the EPA’s ruling to eliminate lead in gasolines as the incentive for development of the catalytic converter. 

In addition, she said the mandated phase-out of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) - banned by the EPA to save the earth’s ozone layer - was another example of regulation driving innovation and economic growth.

“The chemical industry predicted severe economic disruption” if CFCs were banned, she said.  “Refrigeration companies forecasted shutdowns of supermarket coolers and chillers used to cool office buildings, hotels and hospitals.”

However, she said, “When innovators took up the manufacturing challenge, they found alternatives that worked better than CFCs ... [and] developed new technology that cut costs while actually improving productivity and quality”.

“And by making their products better and cleaner, the American refrigeration industry actually gained access to markets overseas - giving them new economic opportunities,” she said.

“That is what smart environmental protection does,” she said. “It creates a need - in other words, a market for clean technology - and then drives innovation and invention - in other words, new products for that market.”

Jackson said that US economic history of the last three decades proves that environmental regulation stimulates growth.

“In the last 30 years, emissions of six dangerous air pollutants that cause smog, acid rain, lead poisoning and more decreased 54%,” she said. “At the same time, gross domestic product grew by 126%.” 

“This is our convenient truth: smart environmental protection creates jobs,” she added.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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