The late political commentator Henry Louis Mencken providently observed an age-old strategy currently being applied to advance EPA’s relentless expansion of power over our lives: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”
Now, just in time to provide a sensational burlesque feature at December climate conference talks in Paris, the Obama EPA’s finally outed nakedly full-frontal exposure of its Clean Power Plan requires states to cut carbon emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
Renewables are supposed to then make up 28 percent of U.S. electrical capacity, about 6 times more than less than 5 percent today.
If that isn’t enough to stop more than 4 billion years of climate change, in October EPA issued its first-ever rule to slash methane emissions, a byproduct of oil and natural gas drilling, by 40-45 percent from 2012 levels over the next decade.
All new or modified wells will need to install costly mitigation systems with little benefit. Methane accounted for about 9 percent of 2013 greenhouse gas emissions, of which about 3 percent are subject to the new rule.
Never mind that satellite records indicate that the allegedly terrifying global warming which all of this greenhouse gas regulation is supposed to cap seems to have stopped without any EPA help nearly two decades ago.
Also forget that the Middle East has been ceded to Russia, Syria and Iran along with a clear glide path towards nuclear armament.
As Obama replied to Steve Kroft in an October 11 “60 Minutes” interview questioning his international leadership: “My definition of leadership would be on climate change, an international accord that potentially we’ll get in Paris."
New EPA ozone standards set at a maximum 70 ppb (down from 75 ppb) are but another costly assault on reliable and affordable energy.
If allowed, countless businesses wishing to expand or build new power plants and factories will face higher permitting thresholds, pay fines to offset their emissions, or even shut down altogether.
Although EPA says its new standard will cost “only” $3.9 billion per year, the National Association of Manufacturers projects impacts closer to more than $100 billion, not counting jobs lost.
In 2011 the agency withdrew a previous estimate that this same limit would cost businesses $90 billion a year.
The new ozone rules project hugely inflated health benefits to be realized at lowest concentrations.
Based upon cherry-picked studies they ignore hundreds of reputable contradictory studies and conflate ozone-reduction benefits with particulate emissions which are already heavily regulated.
In a successful challenge to still another costly EPA mandate, a Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the agency failed to consider cost benefits of draconian power plant emission standards which were set to go into effect on April 15. EPA projects this will cost $9.6 billion annually, compared with $37 billion in health benefits.
Those benefits were premised upon a whopper of a calculation that about 6 percent of all pregnant women in America eat as much as 300 pounds of lake fish annually which passes mercury from power plants to their unborn children and lowers their IQs by an average (and unmeasurable) 0.009 points.
EPA previously argued to the D.C. Court of Appeals that another $33 billion to $90 billion in “co-benefits” will result from requiring plants to install technology to remove mercury and particulate pollutants from the emissions stream.
Yet even the EPA has acknowledged that more than 90 percent of those co-benefits occur at air-quality levels already deemed safe and/or which are covered by existing regulations.
Although the Clean Air Act states that the agency can only consider what best science says — not what it costs to get there — it is encouraging that the U.S. Supreme Court finally recognized a need for cost/benefit scrutiny in its MATS ruling.
As Justice Antonin Scalia noted in 2001, the law does provide for cost considerations in other areas of implementing pollution rules . . . not just one.
Explaining this, he wrote that public health costs of a tight ozone standard may also “offset the health gains achieved in cleaning the air; for example, by closing down whole industries and thereby impoverishing the workers and consumers dependent upon those industries.”
President Obama previously stated that a decision to back off from supporting the ozone reduction plan prior to his 2008 re-election bid was intended to “underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty.”
There can be no doubt that he has lived up to his pledge to reduce regulatory uncertainty. As for reducing those regulatory burdens . . . not so much.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of “Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom”(2015) and “Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax” (2012). Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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