NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Environmental Regulations Stop Shovel-Ready Jobs

May 3, 2013

Shovel-ready jobs, the colloquialism that refers to jobs that can be created quickly, are increasingly difficult to find. When asked about his failed economic stimulus in 2011, President Obama joked that "shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected."  When shovel-ready jobs are identified, often there is a special interest blocking their creation, as is the case with the Keystone XL Pipeline project and environmentalists resisting the project, says the Washington Examiner.

  • Through stimulus programs and other initiatives, more than $1 trillion has been spent to jump-start the economy, yet the nation's unemployment rate is still high.
  • One reason for the high unemployment rate is that much of the job creation predicted by White House economists was delayed by environmental protections like the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
  • Environmental regulations require extensive compliance, paperwork and a lengthy approval project that forces many shovel-ready jobs to sit idle waiting for regulatory approval.

The Keystone XL Pipeline project, which was first proposed in September of 2008, was slated to create over 13,000 constructions jobs according to administration officials. The privately-funded $7 billion project has been tied up in red tape.

  • Among the many actions taken by federal regulators, they have convened at least 20 meetings, reviewed 1,800 comments and written a 1,000-page Environmental Impact Statement.
  • The environmental assessments, along with political resistance, have effectively curbed the expansion of the pipeline along any of the proposed routes from the Canadian border south to Texas refineries.

Earlier in 2013, the U.S. State Department released an 800-page Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) stating that the pipeline would have minimal impact.

  • In response, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has claimed that the SEIS ignores the pipeline's impact on global warming and is demanding that the State Department redo the entire analysis before its final decision in 90 days.
  • If the EPA doesn't like the State Department's final decision, the issue will then be taken up by the White House's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), yet another environmental regulatory body.
  • Even if the CEQ approves the project, green activists will surely challenge the pipeline in court.

NEPA, the reason for the Keystone delays, costs the U.S. economy $577 billion in direct investment and 1.9 million jobs through its regulation of privately funded energy projects. Loosening environmental restrictions would bolster the economy and speed with which shovel-ready jobs are created.

Source: "Examiner Editorial: Keystone Obstructions Show How Environmental Extremism Hobbles the Economy," Washington Examiner, April 24, 2013.


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