Because every $30,000 in increased energy costs could mean the elimination of another entry-level job, EPA’s rules will cause further job losses. MIS predicts that 3.5 million jobs and up to $82 billion in annual economic production will be lost in just six Midwestern manufacturing states.
Chicago public schools alone will face an extra $2.7 million a year for electricity costs by 2014, notes the Chicago Tribune. These increases will mean reductions in school employment, salaries, and academic, sports and music programs.
Unemployment is already 9.1% nationally and over 17% in black communities. EPA’s plans will worsen these rates, significantly increase household energy costs, and make poor, minority and elderly families even less able to afford gasoline, food, clothing, healthcare and other basic needs.
Many families will suffer increased stress, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and crime rates. Unable to afford proper heating and air conditioning, disproportionate numbers of people in low income communities will face hypothermia during frigid winter months and heat prostration during summer heat waves. People will die, as cash-strapped states run out of money for heating and AC assistance, even more rapidly than they did last year.
Retrofitting older power plants is often too costly to justify and, in today’s regulatory and litigious environment, replacing them will be extremely difficult, especially under EPA’s short timeframe for further cleaning up … or simply closing down … the older plants.
Analysts project that EPA’s rules could cost Illinois 3,500 megawatts of electricity generation by 2014 – enough to power 3,500,000 homes and small businesses. The United States could lose 17,000 to 81,000 megawatts of capacity by 2017, industry and independent experts forecast. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission estimates up to 81,000 megawatts of capacity could be lost by 2018.
That means further impaired electricity availability and reliability during peak use periods. It will likely result in brownouts and blackouts, further harming businesses, schools, families, jobs and health.
EPA says the benefits of its new rules “far exceed” their costs. However, the agency’s analyses and definitions of “human health,” “public welfare” and “environmental justice” fail to consider the vital factors presented here. The fact is, the adverse effects of unemployment, sharply higher energy costs and generally lower socio-economic conditions far outweigh asserted benefits of improved air quality.
“Even when properly done, science can only provide the analytical and factual basis for public policy decisions,” says Dr. Roger McClellan, former chair of EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee. “It cannot and should not dictate a particular policy choice in setting and implementing standards.”
Those decisions must consider the full spectrum of energy, employment, economic, health, welfare and justice issues presented here and by other analysts. So far, EPA has failed to do this and has relied on biased analyses in setting its unscientific pollution standards.
McClellan also agrees with Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, whose commonsense, comparative health approach recognizes the detrimental impacts that unemployment and reduced living standards have on people’s health and welfare. “Those impacts far outweigh benefits from further improvements in already good air quality,” especially as calculated using EPA’s computer models and linear extrapolations from limited health and air quality data, McClellan explains.
EPA’s mission is to protect Americans from real health risks – not from speculative dangers based on cherry-picked data and extrapolations, McClellan, Schwartz, Soon and other experts emphasize. The agency must refrain from implementing rules that adversely affect vital components of “public health and welfare,” like those discussed here, until all these factors are examined fully and carefully.
Abundant, reliable, affordable energy is the foundation for everything we eat, make, ship and do – and for jobs, human health, environmental quality, civil rights progress and environmental justice.
America needs a full national and congressional debate on EPA’s rules, before they cause serious damage that many experts fear is inevitable if the regulations are implemented.