- The Washington Times - Friday, September 16, 2011


Millions of Americans recently celebrated the demise of the Environmental Protection Agency’s job-killing ground-level-ozone regulations. Though a toast was appropriate, we shouldn’t drink too much champagne just yet.

As with the Battle of Midway and Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle’s Tokyo raid in early 1942, White House action on this single EPA rule is merely a welcome victory in a long struggle. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce may have declared, “Now, at least they’re listening,” but other observers say the EPA and Obama administration are still tone-deaf.

Indeed, a major factor in the White House decision on ozone was a map showing that 85 percent of America’s counties would be out of compliance with the Clean Air Act if the new rules were implemented. That would mean no new construction or manufacturing projects could begin - and no jobs “created or saved” - until billions were spent to bring existing facilities into compliance with arbitrary new ozone standards.

Many of those counties are in politically important states such as Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, which better explains the administration’s sudden “conversion” than does any supposed recognition that its rules are unnecessary and harmful. Moreover, the ozone rule was not killed; it was postponed until after the 2012 elections.

The administration’s mile-long regulatory freight train merely paused to shunt the ozone boxcar onto a siding, to be retrieved later. The engines and other cars are still roaring down the tracks, heading for a collision with a sick economy that has left 14 million Americans jobless, forced 9 million to take part-time work, caused 2.5 million to give up looking for jobs and put 46 million on food stamps.

Orchestrated environmentalist outrage over the delayed ozone rule may deflect attention from the rest of the freight train and make it easier to impose other regulations. In fact, reams of complex Dodd-Frank financial rules and Obamacare health-sector regulations are still onboard, as are National Labor Relations Board unionizing schemes, land-use regulations from the Agriculture and Interior departments, and many others.

The Energy Department continues to lavish taxpayer dollars on expensive wind and solar projects that provide minimal energy - even after two more solar companies have gone bankrupt, costing Americans another $1 billion and 1,900 jobs.

However, EPA remains the biggest single job-killing agency in government. Its ozone rule-making is just one of dozens it has planned, finalized or brought to the brink of sign-off and implementation.

Unable to get “cap-tax-and-trade” passed in Congress, EPA has economy-killing carbon dioxide rules waiting on a railway spur. It is still preparing coal-fired-power-plant emission rules to control the 0.5 percent of mercury that actually enters America’s atmosphere from those facilities, as well as expensive regulations on heavy-duty trucks.

“Cross-state” air pollution regulations would force utilities in a few states to install billion-dollar retrofits on coal-fired power plants that EPA computer models say could (minimally) affect air quality hundreds of miles away. The EPA claims 20 states affect their downwind brethren during the May-through-September nitrogen oxide/ozone season but demands that Florida shoulder 79 percent of the responsibility nationwide. It also wants Florida to shoulder 94 percent of the responsibility for cleaning Houston’s air. The Texas city is located 800 miles away across the sultry, summertime Gulf of Mexico, and Florida utilities already have reduced their nitrogen oxide emissions by two-thirds since 2003. For its part, Texas must retrofit power plants that might affect Illinois communities 400 miles away.

EPA’s “maximum achievable control technologies” (MACT) rules will impact power sources in factories and refineries. Its “reciprocating ignition compression engine” (RICE) rules will curtail the availability of thousands of backup, “peaking” and emergency generators at colleges, hospitals, malls, groceries and other facilities. When storms knock out power or heat waves strain overloaded grids, the dearth of electricity will cause brownouts, blackouts and widespread chaos.

Coal-ash and water-quality rules will raise costs even further for nearly half of America’s power plants and electricity users.

For three years, the EPA has used global-warming claims to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline project, which could create hundreds of thousands of American refinery, construction, manufacturing, financial and other jobs and Shell’s oil-drilling plans in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea.

In every instance, the EPA claims “the regulatory benefits far exceed the costs.” However, as independent natural scientist Willie Soon and other analysts have documented, the health, welfare and environmental risks and benefits have frequently been exaggerated or even fabricated.

Worse, the EPA steadfastly refuses to consider the significantly adverse effects that its rules will have on human health and welfare. The cumulative weight of those rules will send energy costs skyrocketing and kill millions of jobs, Affordable Power Alliance Co-chairman Niger Innis points out.

Many families will be even less able to afford gasoline, food, clothing, health care and other basic needs, Mr. Innis notes. Many will suffer increased stress, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and crime rates. Many low-income families will be unable to afford proper heating during frigid winter months or air conditioning during summer heat waves. People will die.

EPA is inviting a national disaster.

Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson insists she wants “a real conversation about protecting our health and the environment.” Let’s have that conversation. It’s likely, however, that she and her radical green allies won’t like it one small bit.

Paul Driessen is senior policy adviser for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow and author of “Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death” (Merril Press, 2010).

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