January 12, 2011

Will new greenhouse gas rule eliminate green jobs?

By Will new greenhouse gas rule eliminate green jobs?

Author: Daniel Himebaugh

Washington State Representative Jeff Morris (D-Mount Vernon) writes in The Seattle Times that a new EPA rule — the Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule — will cost Washington up to 26,000 green jobs, and hurt more than 130 renewable-energy projects.  Morris says that the new rule "will regulate emissions from the production of renewable biomass power the same as emissions from the production of fossil-fuel power, removing incentives for development and use of biomass."

By "biomass," Morris means trees.  Essentially, Morris worries that the Tailoring Rule will make biomass fuel less attractive as an alternative to fossil fuel, meaning Washington's millions of forested acres will be less lucrative as a source of alternative energy.

If Morris is correct about the new rule, then we may be witnesses to a public policy phenomenon — government-stimulated green jobs getting caught in the same regulatory straightjacket that has constricted private industry for decades.  The irony here is that green jobs generally must be underwritten by government regulation, like the Tailoring Rule, because government intervention is necessary to create substantial markets for goods like biomass fuel in the first place.

What regulation gives, regulation can take away.

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