Summer is coming and everyone expects to pay a little more to keep the temperature in the house bearable. But do you expect to pay eight times as much as you have in previous years? Unfortunately, that is exactly what will happen to consumers in some parts of the country unless Congress stands up to the insane regulations on coal put forth by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
During the last few years there have been hundreds of families in my denomination who have had trouble keeping basic utility bills paid. In warmer cities, the impoverished elderly routinely run the risk of heat strokes and occasional deaths in the summer. Why would the EPA enact policies that would cause many Americans, already affected by the recession, to go nearly bankrupt paying their utility bills? These problems are avoidable. Poor energy policies affect the poor disproportionately.
Nearly everyone agrees that the environment is important, but most of us also agree that it is not more important than the human beings that live in it. Taking care of your house is important, but you would not stop buying food for your children so that you could replace your windows. When looking at measures to protect our air, water and other natural resources, we must weigh the cost of those measures against the benefits we can realistically expect.
The EPA’s new Utility MACT rule is supposed to protect us from mercury emissions, and the agency readily admits it is the most expensive regulation in the EPA’s history. Let us start by looking at the projected costs and benefits. The EPA estimates the new regulations will cost $10 billion a year, and they estimate the total benefits of mercury emissions that would supposedly be reduced by compliance with the regulation to be between $500,000 and $6 million. (Other touted benefits come from reducing particulate matter emissions that are already regulated separately.)
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.