California is rather notorious for its not-so-business-friendly practices, from high taxes to worker compensation costs to the escalating minimum wage. But of the many things that irk pro-business folks, it’s the environmental regulations that really seem to provoke their ire, stating the familiar rhetoric that such regulatory measures cost jobs. There is some truth to that. For instance, the Los Angeles Times reported in 2009 that from 2003 to 2007, California lost 79,000 manufacturing jobs due to environmental regulations. Conversely, however, California ranked No. 6 in the country for overall job growth, adding over 494,000 new jobs from July 2014 to July 2015, according to the California Legislative Analyst’s office. Even Forbes magazine agrees, ranking the state No. 5 for job growth potential in its “Best States for Business” survey. That fact, though, isn’t enough to quell the frustration of business owners and advocates. So then, what will? Perhaps, a look at what all those regulations and eco-friendly practices do for Californians will help.
For Earth Day, research organization Wallet Hub released its study, “2016’s Greenest States,” with a focus on the “green”-ness of California. To understand better what the state’s rankings mean, we looked at quality of life issues that come with poor standards for environmental issues.
California ranked No. 2 for energy efficiency. Energy efficiency not only saves at home, but also saves taxpayers as government agencies spend less for energy as well.
California ranked No. 3 in recycled municipal solid waste. According to a report in the Oxfordjournals.org, increased incidence of low birth weight births has been related to living near landfill sites, as has the occurrence of various congenital malformations. Hawaii continues to struggle to diminish its solid waste problem.
California came in No. 4 for carbon dioxide emissions per capita. CO² emissions play a major role in raising the global temperature, which in turn increases incidents of severe weather, changes in the food supply and a whole host of other issues that have a domino effect on quality of life issues, resulting in economic loss, health problems and even death.
California ranked No. 8 for water quality. Poor water quality conditions have been linked to a risk of cancer, birth defects, reproductive health problems, stomach discomfort or liver and kidney problems, severe problems with digestive systems and nervous system deterioration.
California ranked No. 9 in the percent of the population that doesn’t drive to work. A study done by Market Watch in 2013 showed that commuting every day costs financially in car maintenance, health-wise in neck and back problems, and even emotionally, breaking up marriages. Plus, vehicles make up more than half of the greenhouse emissions linked to climate change.
The list goes on from there. And undoubtedly, some environmental regulations are more tedious and even may be unnecessary, but in the long run, what exactly are Californians willing to risk for jobs that really don’t seem to be taking that much of a hit?
It’s time to rethink our views on environmental regulations as prohibitive and see them as liberating. After all, what is a job worth if one is sick and miserable? Our environment is worth preserving now and for generations to come.