The EPA rules: All pain, no environmental gain
Interested in paying a massive new energy tax? Especially one that would bring no environmental benefit? Probably not, but that's what you can expect in the wake of draft regulations just released by the Environmental Protection Agency — ones that could cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent.
President Obama warned us it was coming. In 2008, he said that electricity prices would “necessarily skyrocket” under his cap-and-trade proposal. And when our elected officials rejected that, he said there was more than one way to skin the cat.
But now he's singing a different tune. Promoting the new regulations, Obama said, “Your electricity bills will shrink as these standards spur investment in energy efficiency, cutting waste and, ultimately, we're going to be saving money for homes and for businesses.”
Electricity bills will shrink? Is that a “if you like your insurance, you can keep it” type of promise?
The EPA has different targets for different states and would allow states flexibility in implementation plans. But flexibility would merely shift the costs around — not prevent them from happening.
If anything, state and regional implementation plans would protect special interests, which could then pass the costs on to American families.
Whether it is by cap-and-trade policies, regulation or a straightforward tax, restricting carbon emissions would inflict higher energy costs on American families and businesses. Families would pay more to use less electricity. The costs would reverberate throughout the economy, as affected industries pass higher costs onto consumers. Simply put, consumers would consume less and producers would produce less, resulting in income cuts, jobs destroyed and lost economic output.
The economic pain stemming from the EPA's regulations would spread throughout the country, but some people would be harmed more than others. A tax that increases energy prices would hit America's poorest families the hardest. The median family spends about 5 cents out of every dollar on energy costs, but low-income families spend about 20 cents.
Obama is right to say climate change is a fact. But the controversy is about whether human activity is the primary driver.
No matter what one believes, one thing is clear: The regulations would not have any noticeable impact on global temperatures. That is largely because future carbon emissions will come overwhelmingly from developing nations such as China and India.
Wealth creation — for which affordable, reliable energy is a critical input — has provided Americans with the capacity and wherewithal to care for the environment. Free economies better equip people to tackle environmental challenges and address climate-related events, whether human-induced or not.
But the results of these EPA regulations will be fewer jobs and less income for American families. And all for a negligible benefit.
Nicolas Loris is a Heritage Foundation fellow specializing in energy and environmental issues. Ralph R. Reiland is off today.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- More companies embrace exchanges to curb health care costs
- Navigating how to pay for college a challenge as costs continue to rise and aid varies
- Hospitals turning to technology to tear down language barriers with patients
- White House intrusions reveal problems with security, Secret Service
- London must keep promises to Scotland, former Prime Minister Brown says
- Worth of nickel rising in NFL
- Penn State rolls past Massachusetts
- The Box
- Springdale boys collect win in double overtime
- Brownsville restaurant opens in historic home, pays homage to ‘Gone With the Wind’ plantation
- Penn State notebook: LG Dowrey gets chance to start on struggling O-line