Gina McCarthy, the recently confirmed Environmental Protection Agency administrator, said Tuesday during an address at Harvard Law School that she wants people to "stop talking about environmental regulations killing jobs." Little wonder she wants to sweep that topic under the rug. The very next day it was reported that U.S. economic growth remained sluggish in the second quarter, increasing slightly to 1.7 percent from 1.1 percent in the first quarter. Labor costs increased 0.5 percent during the second quarter.
The economic recovery long ago promised by McCarthy's boss in the Oval Office remains the most anemic one since the Great Depression. Four and five percent growth rates of the Reagan and Clinton recoveries in the 1980s and 1990s aren't likely these days because the EPA regulatory onslaught under Obama is a major cause of stagnant economic activity since 2009. At least 205 coal-fired generators will soon close due to EPA regulations, with the loss of 17,000 jobs, according to an October 2012 report from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. Then there are the jobs lost from stimulus-backed green energy failures like Solyndra, Abound Solar and Evergreen Energy.
It's not just the EPA killing jobs by the thousands with regulations of dubious or non-existent benefit. Every dollar that goes to compliance with government regulation is one less dollar available for investment in job-creating private businesses. The 2013 edition of the Competitive Enterprise Institute's annual "10,000 Commandments" report on the regulatory burden imposed on Americans by red tape is replete with evidence of the costs when federal bureaucrats issue new regulations. Compliance costs alone nearly reached $2 trillion in 2012, the most recent year for which data is available. That's almost $15,000 per family, or 23 percent of the $63,685 average household income in the U.S. Only mortgages will cost households more than regulations in 2013.
Measuring by the number of new regulations issued and the pages they required in the Federal Register also confirms the manic regulatory pace of the Obama regime. The CEI report found more than 4,000 new federal regulations at some stage of implementation in 2012, with 1,172 of them reaching completion, a 16 percent increase over 2011. And that was before the additional hundreds of draconian new regulations Obama held back until after the November 2012 election. Just short of 79,000 Federal Register pages were required to publish this flood of proposed and completed rules last year. The record was set in 2010 when there were in excess of 81,000. The flood won't recede any time soon.