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Report: Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Creates Jobs

January 4, 2012

BALTIMORE - It has long been argued by both industry and politicians that environmental regulations are unnecessary job killers. However, when it comes to keeping air and water clean, and keeping people employed, a new report says you actually can have it all.

Will Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, says the report released through his organization documents how clean-up projects, including the 2006 Maryland Healthy Air Act, have created jobs.

"Jobs are created - engineering, architectural, construction - the whole suite of jobs associated with big engineering projects."

According to the study, environmental clean-up jobs which have, in part, benefited Chesapeake Bay, have grown by 43 percent in the past 20 years in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia - from 98,000 jobs in 1990 to 140,000 in 2009. Many of those jobs are on sewage and water-system improvement projects.

Strong arguments are made that tighter restrictions and pollution regulations will cost companies a lot of money - and in a tough economy, that could actually put some out of business, such as the smaller farmer. However, Baker claims those arguments mostly are coming from big, well-funded national agricultural businesses.

"Lobbying heavily in Congress to try and overturn this great effort to save Chesapeake Bay, bring back the oysters, crabs, fish - clean water for kids. It's really a profit-driven exercise on their part, and not in the public interest."

The report says a variety of federal and state programs help farmers pay for runoff-control projects, although they are not all adequately funded.

The report, "Debunking the 'Job Killer' Myth: How Pollution Limits Encourage Jobs," is online at cbf.org.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD