Victory is sweet, but the war continues
By Paul Driessen
Millions of Americans recently celebrated the demise of the Environmental Protection Agency's job-killing ground-level ozone regulations. While a toast was appropriate, we shouldn't drink too much champagne just yet.
As with the Battle of Midway and Lt. Col. James 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% 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 are spent to bring existing facilities into compliance with arbitrary new ozone standards.
Many of those counties are in politically important states like 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, to safeguard jobs: White House, administration, Democrat and SEIU jobs.
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 remaining cars are still roaring down the tracks, heading for a collision with a sick economy that has left 14 million Americans jobless, 9 million forced to take part-time work, 2.5 million who have given up looking for jobs, and 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 hundreds of 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, Agriculture and Interior Department land use regulations, and many others.
The Energy Department continues to lavish taxpayer dollars on expensive wind and solar projects that provide minimal energy at exorbitant cost, even after two more solar companies went bankrupt, costing Americans another $1 billion and 1,900 jobs. Solyndra alone cost US taxpayers $535 million, to create 1,100 temporary jobs at $485,000 apiece. They're all gone now.
Citing Energy Department reports, the Washington Post reports that the $39-billion loan guarantee program, which President Obama promised would "create or save" 65,000 jobs, has instead spawned a measly 3,545 new, supposedly permanent jobs -- after blowing nearly $18 billion, or $5 million per job.
Green jobs? Greenback jobs is more like it -- taxpayer greenbacks for Obama and cronies. Worse, by draining billions from taxpayers, consumers and productive sectors of the American economy, the administration is killing two to three traditional, sustainable jobs for each greenback job it creates.
Then there is EPA, which even in this toxic environment remains the biggest single job-killing agency in government. Its ozone rulemaking 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 its economy-killing carbon dioxide rules waiting on a railway siding, until the November elections spur a regulatory frenzy. It is still preparing coal-fired power plant emission rules to control the 0.5% 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 will 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. EPA claims 20 states affect downwind states during the May-September NOx/ozone season, but demands that Florida shoulder 79% of the national responsibility.
It claims seven states affect Houston's air quality, but wants Florida to provide 94% of the alleged benefits for the Texas city, 800 miles away, across the sultry, largely windless summertime Gulf of Mexico -- after Florida utilities already reduced their NOx emissions by two-thirds since 2003. EPA also says Texas must retrofit power plants that might affect Illinois communities 400 miles away.
Even crazier, EPA is using outdated air pollution measurements to justify these rules. In reality, data from recent years show the supposedly impacted cities already meet national ambient air quality standards.
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, especially in hospitals.
Coal ash and water quality rules will raise costs even further for nearly half of America's power plants -- and electricity users -- for minimal environmental gain.
For three years 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 stymie Shell's oil drilling plans in Alaska's Chukchi Sea.
In every instance, EPA claims "the regulatory benefits far exceed the costs." However, as independent natural scientist Dr. Willie Soon and other analysts have documented, the health, welfare and environmental risks and benefits have frequently been exaggerated or even fabricated.
Worse, EPA steadfastly refuses to consider the significant adverse effects that its rules will have on human health and welfare. The cumulative weight of these rules will send energy costs skyrocketing and kill millions of additional jobs, Affordable Power Alliance co-chair Niger Innis points out.
Poor and newly jobless families will be even less able to afford gasoline, clothing, healthcare, proper nutrition and other basic needs, 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.
Equally outrageous, while it may have shunted its ozone boxcar onto a railway siding, EPA is ramping up its campaign to rally support for its dangerous policies. Under its "Plan EJ 2014" initiative and other programs, the agency is "leading from behind" -- funneling millions of taxpayer dollars to minority, low-income and environmentalist groups that will advance EPA's rulemaking, permitting, compliance, enforcement and other agenda items under guise of "environmental justice" and "civil rights" claims.
The Environmental Protection Agency is setting the stage for a national disaster.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson insists she wants "a real conversation about protecting our health and the environment." By all means, let's have that conversation. It's likely, however, that she and her radical allies will not enjoy it one small bit.
Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow, and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death.