On Monday, November 14th, the Pizza with the Professors luncheon series on the Delaware campus concluded for the fall semester with a look at environmental regulations.
Associate Professor Ken Kristl
introduced the topic by noting that for those opposed to environmental regulations by the government, “The argument in large part is that regulation costs jobs.”
Kristl then turned the floor over to Distinguished Professor David R. Hodas
, who said, “This argument that environmental regulation costs jobs is not new,” before delving into some of the reasons that he believed that idea to be largely urban myth.
Professor Hodas cited several examples in which companies indicated that they would be unlikely to be able to comply with regulations and would have to shut down operations only to then find solutions that not only allowed them to comply with the regulations, but also to increase their efficiency. Those increased efficiencies led to economic gain, meaning that the environmental regulations that had initially been decried served as drivers of innovation. He used the DuPont Company as a prime example of this phenomenon.
“The caveat is that the laws have to give companies time to prepare in line with their capital reinvestment cycles,” noted Professor Hodas in acknowledging that companies needed to be afforded transition time to meet regulations.
After discussing several examples of technology shifts and how that related to companies being able to gain efficiencies after being forced to innovate by regulations, he concluded, “To say that environmental regulation costs money is a misnomer.”
Professor Jim May
then spoke briefly, citing several disturbing numbers related to the record profits of oil and gas companies and the lobbying effort. Professor Kristl followed up with a quick question about why there would be so much opposition to environmental regulations given the economic benefits, which led into a brief discussion about the psychology of the situation. Professor Hodas indicated that contrary to conservative rhetoric, the opposition seemed to be showing a fundamental mistrust in the free market to find ways to innovate.