Many Republican officeholders and would-be officeholders are telegraphing to voters an either-or message: They can have more jobs or they can have cleaner air. But they can’t have both.
Rhetoric about closing down EPA and removing bureaucrats’ boots off industry’s throat, however, is more about drawing distinctions between Republicans and Democrats rather than taking reasoned positions that draw from empirical evidence.
Actually and surprisingly, not much scholarly research has been done to examine the impacts of environmental regulation on employment, according to Resources for the Future (RFF) testimony earlier this year to the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s energy and environment panel.
Nor, according to the testimony, does EPA have clear guidance on how it should analyze the employment impacts of its proposed regulations. An Office of Management and Budget circular setting out how agencies should comply with a 1993 executive order requiring cost-benefit analysis of regulations does not provide guidelines for how employment analyses should be carried out.
RFF recommends that OMB set such guidelines, “but only after soliciting and considering public comment and genuinely independent expert advice.” Well, good luck with that in the middle of a polarizing campaign season in which clean air is one more political football.
Meanwhile, GOP candidates sending an either-or message about jobs and clean air ought to consider guidelines from Republican pollster Greg Strimple, whose firm, GS Strategy Group of Boise, joined with the Democratic firm Peter Hart & Associates in a survey about clean air regulations put out last week by Ceres, which works on business sustainability issues.
According to results of the poll, which queried 1,400 voters, 62 percent of Republicans joined 85 percent of Democrats and 79 percent of independents in opposing Congress substituting its judgment for EPA’s in deciding whether stronger air pollution limits are needed.
Strimple told E&E News that Republicans ought to be careful about marginalizing themselves on air quality issues with the middle of the electorate, i.e., voters who don’t have time to march around in tri-corner hats or occupy public parks.
The payoff message, Strimple said, is that “Republicans like clean air too.”