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Reality Check: President Bush Imposed More Regulations Than Obama

ObamainmirrorHere are two sobering truths for anti-regulatory activists who are in a froth these days, trying to bash the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, generally, and pollution limits for the Chesapeake Bay, specifically.

I bring these up as debate heats up in the news media over the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s new report, “Debunking the Job Killer Myth: How Pollution Limits Encourage Jobs in the Chesapeake Bay Region.”

In response to the report, Don Parrish, senior director of government relations at the American Farm Bureau Federation, said: "If regulations created jobs, then the Obama administration would have created an economic tidal wave and we'd have full employment right now. Any time you force people to spend money, the impact new regulations have is going to have a dramatically negative impact on the economy."

Fact One: Despite claims that the Obama Administration has unleashed a “tidal wave” of new regulations, Obama has not introduced an unusual number of new regulations, according to an analysis by Bloomberg News.

In reality, Obama’s White House approved 613 federal rules during the first 33 months of his term, about 5 percent fewer than the 643 cleared by President George W. Bush’s administration in the same time frame, according to an Office of Management and Budget statistical database reviewed by Bloomberg.

The record number of new regulations came under Bush’s father, in the early 1990s, according to Bloomberg.

Fact Two: History and peer-reviewed economic research clearly show that environmental regulations do not harm the economy, and during economic downturns, they can actually create jobs, according to a study performed by Dr. Eban Goodstein, an economist and Director of the Center for Environmental Policy at Bard College.

Even the second Bush administration found this to be true about allegedly “job killing” federal Clean Air Act amendments signed in 1990 by the first President Bush. At the time, anti-government activists claimed the clean air rules would mean a “quiet death for businesses across the country.”

This turned out to be crying wolf over environmental rules designed to improve the public health -– as has happened repeatedly over the last 40 years, and is happening again now over the new Chesapeake Bay pollution limits.

In reality, the Clean Air Act amendments did not shut down hospitals or shopping malls or cause economic ruin. In fact, the regulations produced a benefit-to-cost ratio of more than 40 to 1, including over $70 billion in human health benefits annually and a significant reduction in acid-rain pollution, according to EPA.

If you want to learn more facts about environmental regulations and jobs, read CBF’s report here.

By Tom Pelton

Chesapeake Bay Foundation




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