Cantor's job plan: a recovery led by casket makers?
Posted September 1, 2011
It may not be front-page news but these are tough times for the U.S. funeral home industry.
That could all change if Rep. Eric Cantor, R-VA., has his way.
Eric Cantor has a “job plan” for America – and the price tag is a mere 25,000+ preventable deaths per year. That’s the number of lives that could be saved each year by updating health safeguards to protect Americans and their families from smog and toxic pollution from power plants, cement kilns and industrial boilers. And those are the safeguards that Cantor wants his colleagues in the house to block.
As part of the increasingly mindless attack by some in Congress on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Cantor has unveiled a supposed plan to revive the U.S. economy. It reads like a laundry list of pollution that the House GOP apparently wants more of and their schedule for making it happen:
- Toxic power plant pollution and power plant pollution that drifts across state lines (referred to in Cantor’s memo as “Utility MACT and CSAPR (Week of September 19)"
- Toxic pollution from thousands of industrial boilers (appearing as “Boiler MACT (Week of October 3)” in the memo)
- Toxic pollution from cement kilns (“Cement MACT (Week of October 3)”)
- Smog pollution (“Ozone Rule (Winter)”)
Now, all of this pollution is dangerous, but let’s focus on smog for the moment.
My colleagues John Walke and Heather Taylor-Miesle over at the NRDC Action Fund have rebutted the outlandish claims Rep. Cantor makes about efforts to reduce smog pollution (“possibly the most harmful of all the currently anticipated Obama Administration regulations”) already, but I think it’s worth a little additional reflection.
Here are a few facts (remember when those actually mattered?) worth pondering:
- Smog pollution continues to be a serious problem. More than 2,000 “code orange” air quality alerts occurred nationwide in just the first seven months of this year, with many areas having long stretches of days with bad air due to elevated smog levels. Led by California, about 250 communities and parks in nearly 40 states have experienced one or more “code orange” dangerous air days this year, making it unsafe for children, older adults and people with breathing problems to go outside.
- Rising smog pollution is bad for the health of our children. Overall, nearly 37 million children live in areas where the air is unhealthy, according to the American Lung Association. And when the seven million U.S. children with asthma experience “code orange” bad air days, they are more likely to end up in hospital emergency rooms.
- Reducing smog emissions from autos equals more jobs … and better jobs. According to a report released earlier this month by NRDC, the United Auto Workers and the National Wildlife Federation, more than 150,000 American workers already are making components for clean, fuel-efficient vehicles, and that number could grow significantly as the United States continues to embrace new generations of fuel efficient cars and trucks. And that number will just go up under the new higher MPG rules announced by the Obama Administration, according to two recent studies released by Ceres.
- Cleaning up the pollution from power plants is a net winner in terms of new jobs and the economy. A February 2011 report, “New Jobs-Cleaner Air: Employment Effects under Planned Changes to EPA’s Air Pollution Rules,” prepared by Dr. James Heintz of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, details the jobs created through investments in pollution controls, new plant construction, and the retirement of older, less efficient coal plants as the country transitions to a cleaner, modernized generation fleet under new EPA clean air standards. The key finding: Based on recent estimates that the power sector will invest almost $200 billion total in capital improvements over the next five years, total employment created by these capital investments is estimated at 1.46 million jobs, or about 290,000 jobs on average in each of the next five years.
We just haven’t seen any evidence that pollution creates jobs. But we know for sure that pollution takes lives. So how are Cantor’s ideas supposed to put people to work?
I mean, seriously, how many casket-making jobs can there be out there?
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