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Study: Restoring the Chesapeake Bay could create 230,000 jobs

Tuesday - 1/3/2012, 9:52am  ET

bay.jpg
The Chesapeake Bay is the nation's largest estuary. (AP)

Dick Uliano, wtop.com

WASHINGTON -- Environmentalists devoted to restoring and protecting the Chesapeake Bay say cleaning the bay not only will produce more crabs and oysters, but also create almost a quarter of a million jobs.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation issued a report on Tuesday that is aimed at "debunking the myth" that environmental regulations kill jobs.

"If you look across Maryland, Virginia, the other Chesapeake Bay states, it's predicted that 230,000 jobs will be created to help reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay," says Will Baker, foundation president.

"It's a cynical myth that cleaning up the water and the air kills jobs."

The projections include engineering and construction jobs and also rely on a multiplier effect -- jobs created as a result of increased economic activity based on the improvements.

In December 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency ordered Maryland, Virginia, four other states and D.C. to reduce pollution flow into the bay by 25 percent by 2025.

But with the economy slumping and the unemployment rate high, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., warned in a memo last August that environmental regulations are hampering job creation.

A 2001 study by Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Michael Greenstone found that two decades of clean air amendments aimed at polluting plants caused a loss of 600,000 jobs.

But the foundation's report, "Debunking the 'Job Loss' Myth," says Chesapeake Bay cleanup and monitoring jobs increased by 43 percent across the region between 1990 and 2009.

Virginia and Maryland are expected to invest as much as $3 billion over the next 15 years building and upgrading 147 sewage treatment plants.

Construction also is underway on stormwater pollution control devices that catch and filter rain water.

Montgomery County is spending $305 million on such systems to limit pollution into the bay.

"These are programs which require good technology to be put in place, they have to create jobs," Baker says.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)