Politicians claim job creation is a top priority, but political rhetoric does not always reflect reality. Often government actions kill jobs. Nowhere is the negative impact of government regulation on job creation more evident than in the energy sector. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has released a study titled: “Progress Denied: A Study on the Potential Economic Impact of Permitting Challenges Facing Proposed Energy Projects.” The study indicates that stalled energy projects are costing the American economy $1.1 trillion and nearly 2 million jobs.
Michigan’s share of the economic pain is substantial: $39 billion in lost economic output, $13 billion in lost employment earnings, and 56,000 jobs lost annually. The study lists the following stalled energy projects in Michigan:
- Northern Michigan University Ripley addition — Type: coal, Opposition: Sierra Club
- Wisconsin Public Power Inc. Escanaba Plant — Type: coal, Opposition: Gov. Granholm, Sierra Club
- The City of Holland Public Works — Type: coal, Opposition: Gov. Granholm, Sierra Club
- Tondu/MSWDC Northern Lights Coal Project — Type: coal, Opposition: local citizens, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians
- Lansing Coal/Biomass Hybrid Plant — Type: coal/biomass, Opposition: local citizens, Sierra Club
- Wolverine Coal Pant — Type: clean coal, Opposition: Sierra Club, DEQ
- LS Power/Dynegy’s Midland Power Plant — Type: coal, Opposition: Sierra Club
- Consumers Energy Coal Plant — Type: coal, Opposition: Sierra Club
- Great Lakes Energy and Research Park — Type: clean coal, Opposition: Sierra Club
- Fermi Nuclear Generating Station Unit 3 — Type nuclear, Opposition: environmental groups
A tortuous regulatory process and environmental litigation are killing much needed jobs in Michigan. While not all of these projects would likely be built, many would if not for formidable obstacles of an expensive and time consuming regulatory process and a friendly environment for litigation.
With the election of a new governor, one obstacle to new energy projects has been eliminated. However, if state leaders are serious about the creation of new jobs and providing energy for future job growth, there will need to be serious reform of Michigan’s environmental regulatory process.