- - Thursday, December 11, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

ANALYSIS/OPINION

“Lack of transparency was really critical to getting it passed,” former Obamacare consultant Jonathan Gruber explained. The Democrats cleverly exploited the American voters’ “lack of economic understanding.”

Now President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency is using secretive, duplicitous science, and exploiting people’s lack of scientific understanding, to impose punitive regulations cleverly labeled the “clean power plan.”

The agency claims the clean power plan will prevent “dangerous manmade climate change” by reducing carbon dioxide and “encouraging” greater use of renewable energy. Its real goal is forcing coal-fired power plants to reduce operations significantly or shut down entirely.

The EPA also claims that eliminating coal in electricity generation will bring major health benefits. The benefits are illusory, and the agency ignores the harmful effects its regulations are having on people’s livelihoods, living standards, health and well-being.

The clean power plan augments numerous other anti-coal regulations. Their imaginary benefits include reduced mercury risks for hypothetical American women who eat 296 pounds of fish a year that they catch themselves, and a “0.00209 point” improvement in IQ test scores.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s particulates standard is equivalent to having 1 ounce of superfine soot dispersed in a volume of air one-half mile long, one-half mile wide and one story tall.

America’s air is already clean, thanks to emission control systems that remove the vast majority of pollutants. Remaining pollutants pose few actual health problems.

Moreover, even if plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide plays more than a tiny role in climate change, China and India will keep burning fossil fuels to lift people out of abject poverty. Even eliminating all U.S. coal and natural gas use will not make an iota of global difference.

To get the results it wants, the EPA cherry-picks often questionable research that supports its agenda and disregards all others. It low-balls costs, pays its “independent” scientific advisers and outside pressure groups such as the American Lung Association millions of dollars annually to rubber-stamp its decisions, and dismisses the cumulative effects its regulations have on energy costs, businesses, jobs and families.

Energy Ventures Analysis Inc. recently conducted the first tally of snowballing costs for the electric power industry and residential, industrial and other energy customers, overall and state by state.

Energy Ventures Analysis found that EPA rules will inflict $284 billion per year in extra electricity and natural gas costs in 2020 compared with its 2012 baseline year. The typical household’s annual electricity and natural gas bills will rise 35 percent during that period and climb every year afterward, as standards become more stringent.

For manufacturing and other businesses, electricity and natural gas costs will almost double from 2012 to 2020, increasing nearly $200 billion annually. Energy-intensive industries such as aluminum, steel and chemical manufacturing will find it increasingly hard to compete in global markets.

Imagine running a factory, school district or hospital and having to factor in such skyrocketing costs. Where will the extra money come from? How many workers or teachers will get laid off, or patients turned away? Can you stay open?

The clean power plan also will force utility companies to spend billions of dollars building replacement gas and wind generators and new gas and transmission lines. The EPA does not consider those costs, either.

Rural America will be walloped. Nonprofit electric cooperatives serve 42 million people in 47 states, across three-fourths of the nation’s land area. They own and maintain 42 percent of America’s electric distribution lines and depend heavily on coal.

They already have invested countless billions retrofitting coal-fired generators with state-of-the-art emission control systems, and now emit far fewer pollutants than they did a couple of decades ago.

The agency’s air and water rules will force these units to slash electricity generation or close long before their productive lives are over — and before replacement units and transmission lines can be built.

Electricity rates in these rural areas are already higher than in urban areas, but will go much higher. “Reserve margins” will plummet to almost zero in some areas, destabilizing large sections of the grid, and increasing risks of rolling blackouts and cascading power outages.

The EPA’s actions are also putting rural hospitals in greater jeopardy, as they try to cope with “Affordable” Care Act rules and other burdens that have already caused numerous closings. Many of the nation’s poorest patients will be denied accessible, affordable care.

People suffering strokes, heart attacks and serious accidents will not be able to reach emergency care during their “golden hour.” Many will die or be permanently disabled.

The agency never considered these issues, either.

Congress, state legislators and attorneys general, governors and courts need to stop their heavy-handed actions. They should demand and review EPA data, documents, alliances, payouts and decisions. They should delay, defund and ultimately reverse rules that do not pass scientific muster.

The principle is simple: No data or integrity means no regulation and no taxpayer money to impose it.

They also should consider the suggestion by Heartland Institute science director Jay Lehr, who from 1968 to 1971 lobbied hard for EPA’s creation: Systematically dismantle the USEPA and replace it with a “committee of the whole” of the 50 state environmental protection agencies.

The organization would do a far better job protecting our air and water quality, livelihoods, living standards, health and welfare. It will listen better to people — and less to eco-pressure groups.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of “Eco-Imperialism: Green power, Black Death (Merrill).

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