New Study Shows How EPA Clean Air Rules Boost the Economy and Create Jobs

Thu Nov 17, 2011 9:17am EST

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New Study Shows How EPA Clean Air Rules Boost the Economy and Create Jobs

Pollution Control Installations at Power Plants Have Already Created Hundreds of Jobs Across the Country

Builds on Earlier Study Finding Two New Rules Will Create Nearly 1.5 Million Jobs

A new study details the positive impacts on the economy and job creation resulting from companies’ investments in emission control technology in response to new air pollution rules from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The report, “New Jobs – Cleaner Air Part II: An investment in American Businesses and American Jobs,” released today by Ceres in collaboration with the Institute of Clean Air Companies (ICAC), highlights specific case studies of companies involved in building a fleet of modern power plants.

“As Congress continues to debate how best to create jobs, we already know one area that is poised for more jobs – the utility sector. As companies invest in upgrades to their older, less efficient power plants to comply with EPA air pollution rules, jobs will be created at supplier's manufacturing centers all the way down the supply chain to the actual construction sites,” said Ceres president, Mindy Lubber. “Hands down, clean air is a good thing and putting these air pollution rules into effect at a time when new jobs and economic growth are desperately needed is the right thing to do.”

The two EPA rules under consideration are the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Rule (aka Utility MACT). CSAPR will require significant reductions in harmful emissions from coal-fired power plants that drift hundreds of miles downwind and across state lines. The Toxics rule will require power plants to curb hazardous emissions of mercury, lead, arsenic and acid gases by 2015. Many of the power plants impacted by these rules are more than 50 years old.

Estimates from EPA and others have projected that the total amount of investment needed to comply with the new rules is at least $94 billion. This investment would flow directly to American companies, creating the construction and manufacturing jobs that our economy sorely needs.

According to research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, every one million dollars of investment in a construction project leads directly and indirectly to 11 new jobs. Retrofitting a coal-fired power plant with $200 million worth of air pollution control (APC) equipment would result in 2,200 jobs. These projects have ripple effects when newly-employed workers spend their wages. As investment spreads across the country, it will help bring a spark to the national economy.

“There is an unprecedented amount of capital sitting on the sidelines of the economy. There’s also a large pool of skilled labor not being utilized. Eliminating the uncertainty around these rules will connect those two dots,” said David Foerter, executive director, ICAC. “Everyone from small companies to multi-national corporations will see immediate gains as orders are placed and skilled labor is hired for these projects. The entire supply chain will benefit.”

American businesses across the country provide the products, expertise, and services necessary to update our fleet of older coal-fired power plants. These businesses provide engineering design, construction, and maintenance services, and manufacture the many different types of equipment needed in APC systems. They provide well-paying jobs to engineers, electricians, pipefitters, boilermakers, millwrights and iron workers.

Jobs and Investments Spurred Across the Country:

  • New Hampshire: Public Service Company of New Hampshire (PSNH) is nearly finished installing a wet scrubber at their 460 megawatt (MW) Merrimack Station coal-fired power plant in Bow. PSNH invested $457 million in the scrubber project, which is providing 300 on-site construction jobs for the three-year construction period – in addition to hundreds of other jobs further upstream in the supply chain.
  • Pennsylvania: PPL’s Brunner Island Power Station in York Haven began constructing a new flue gas desulfurization (FGD )system on units 1, 2 and 3 (a total of 1,540 MW) in 2007. The total project investment was $800 million, which directly and indirectly created employment opportunities for thousands of people over the three years it took to complete the project, and added 30 permanent jobs at the plant to operate the scrubber.
  • New York: NRG Energy recently installed an innovative injection system combining dry sorbent injection (DSI) and activated carbon injection (ASI) to cut emissions at its Dunkirk and Huntley plants in upstate New York. AECOM (New York City) served as project and construction manager for the $275 million project, managing design, procurement, and installation.
  • Minnesota: Xcel Energy constructed multiple emission controls at the 620 MW Allen S. King plant between 2003 and 2007. The $380 million in investments included boiler overhauls, construction of an SCR, and a combination spray dryer/fabric filter system. The project included Alstom Environmental Controls; AMEX, Mitsubishi and others.

The study also provides a list of 139 supply chain companies in over 30 states, and highlights several supply chain companies that have already seen the benefits of these investments and will see more when the clean air rules are implemented. Case studies of specific companies include Midwesco Filter Resources, Inc. (VA), United Conveyor Corporation (IL, IN and CO), and M.J. Electric, LLC (MI). The paper also provides profiles for the APC supply chain in 5 states where many jobs will be created, listing the companies based in Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania that will be put to work on projects locally and around the country.

From patents to production, the supply chain for APC equipment has the capacity to modernize aging infrastructure and cut hazardous air emissions. CSAPR and the Toxics Rule will do more than just clean the air and improve health nationwide; they will also create a strong incentive for companies to channel capital to construction projects and boost demand for skilled workers.

Lubber concludes: “As the record has shown, the diverse APC supply chain touches every corner of the nation. For every one of the companies featured in this report, dozens of others are poised to step in. By highlighting these case studies, we hope to put a face to the individuals and companies that can help lead America’s transition to a cleaner energy future and stronger economic health.”

The report follows up on a previous study, New Jobs – Cleaner Air: Employment Effects Under Planned Changes to the EPA’s Air Pollution Rules by Ceres and the University of Massachusetts Political Economy Research Institute, which found that the investments driven by new air pollution rules will create nearly 1.5 million jobs, or nearly 300,000 jobs per year on average over the next five years.

About Ceres

Ceres is a leading coalition of investors, environmental groups and other public interest organizations working with companies to address sustainability challenges such as global climate change. Ceres also directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a network of 98 investors with $9.5 trillion of collective assets focused on the business impacts of climate change. www.ceres.org

About ICAC

The Institute of Clean Air Companies, (ICAC) is the nonprofit national association of companies working in the stationary source air pollution control and monitoring sector. The Institute’s members include leading system and component suppliers of monitoring and control technologies for particulate matter, nitrogen and sulfur oxides, mercury, volatile organic compounds and other hazardous air pollutants. ICAC advances the common business interests of its members by working for strong, flexible clean air policies that rest on sound technical basis and that promote public health, environmental quality and industrial progress.

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