Rethinking regulation's bad rap
By Andrea Durbin
Oregon Environmental Council
By now you've surely heard the rhetoric: regulation kills jobs.
It's been echoed by Romney, Gingrich — and even Colbert — in attacks on the EPA and a host of other topical issues. Here's the problem. Multiple studies and stories have demonstrated that regulations don't kill jobs or force employers to cut their work force.
What the criticism underscores is that it's time to rethink how we define and view regulations.
The fact of the matter is that regulations can help businesses by setting a level playing field and spurring innovation that enables companies to remain competitive in the global market place. Energy efficient appliances and reducing sulfur dioxide are just two examples where regulation has provided the catalyst for technological advancements and job growth. In good times or bad, forgoing protections on irreplaceable natural resources that have substantial economic value and are proven economic drivers for Oregon is absolutely the wrong approach.
The real question we need to ask ourselves is how do we make regulations work more effectively for our state? I’m not just talking about how regulations can provide certainty and consistency for business, but how can we ensure regulations achieve better outcomes more effectively and efficiently?
If the state wants to save money through realizing efficiencies and reducing risk, then regulations need to focus more upstream and prevent problems before they start. Prevention saves our government, businesses and individuals money by avoiding costs that become externalized on communities. We’ve seen Gov. John Kitzhaber emphasize this prevention model for controlling health care costs; it’s time to expand this approach to broader business regulation.
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