MILLOY: Democrats need to choose: EPA or jobs

TRAIN Act would mandate cost analysis of economy-killing rules

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Thursday is a D-Day of sorts for House Democrats. That day they will get to choose between jobs or job-killing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations.

The House is scheduled to vote this week on the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011 (TRAIN Act), a long-overdue measure to rein in the Obama administration’s out-of-control EPA.

The TRAIN Act calls for a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of proposed EPA regulations and their impact on jobs and electricity prices. Importantly, for anyone worried about the cost and reliability of electricity, it places on hold two of the most expensive Clean Air Act regulations ever proposed by the EPA - the recently promulgated Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) and the pending Clean Air Mercury Rule.

These rules will accomplish nothing for the environment while costing plenty.

According to a study done by NERA Economic Consulting for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, the two rules will cost power providers and consumers $184 billion over the next 20 years.

Average U.S. retail electricity prices in 2016 are projected to increase by about 12 percent, with regional increases as much as 24 percent. Net employment in the U.S. is projected to fall by 1.4 million joba a year or about 70,000 jobs with 20-year careers.

Lest anyone think these numbers are merely industry scare tactics, consider that the Texas power company Luminant just announced that it was laying off 500 workers because of the CSAPR. Others are sure to follow as utilities shutter older coal-fired plants that are too expensive to upgrade and the Appalachian coal-mining business craters.

Speaking of scare tactics, that’s the enviros’ stock in trade. Just last week, a coalition of environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club, Greenpeace and others launched an intimidation campaign directed at House Republicans called DirtySecrets.org.

The website lists individual GOP congressman and tries to link them to political contributions from the fossil fuel industry with the number of lost lives and child asthma to be caused by their support for various efforts to rein in the EPA.

Michele Bachmann, for example, is accused of risking the lives of 22,750 Americans and the health of 118,111 asthmatic kids in Florida in return for $131,730 in contributions from “polluters.”

But these “body counts” are figments of the enviros’ twisted imaginations. Ambient air in America is clean and safe and threatens no one’s health.

That the greens don’t even really believe their silly claims is evidenced by the fact that they don’t use the same tactics on congressional Democrats and President Obama, who just pulled the plug on the EPA-proposed tightening of the ground-level ozone standard.

That rule would supposedly have saved tens of thousands of lives and have prevented hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks. But where’s the campaign against Democratic politicians who were more than happy to risk supposedly lethal health consequences in order to save jobs?

Something called the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) is running ads accusing pro-life GOP congressmen of failing to uphold their pro-life principles. The EEN claims that the effort to rein in the EPA threatens fetuses with mercury poisoning. But there is no scientific (or even anecdotal) evidence to support this claim. Moreover, U.S. power plants are responsible for only about 0.5 percent of annual global mercury emissions. Mother Nature is the leader with 70 percent.

Two weeks ago, EPA air chief Gina McCarthy testified before Congress, “I don’t want to create the impression that EPA is in the business of creating jobs.” Shockingly, her callousness to the real-world is actually enshrined in law as the Clean Air Act expressly forbids the EPA from considering costs and jobs when it regulates.

The only remedy for this is action from Congress. The House should overwhelmingly pass the TRAIN Act and the Senate should follow. If the president has the temerity to veto a bill that would save 1.4 million jobs while keeping energy prices lower, House Republicans should attach it to the 2013 budget and dare him to veto that.

Mr. Obama said to Congress on Sept. 8 about his still-unveiled jobs bill, “You should pass this jobs plan right away.” While we wait for Mr. Obama, Democrats have a chance to save many jobs this week.

Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is the author of “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them” (Regnery, 2009).

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