November 9, 2010

New EPA Regulations

FROM-New American
Written by William P. Hoar

Item: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, reported The Hill for September 23, “is adopting a populist stance as she pushes ahead with first-time greenhouse gas rules, charging that oil and coal lobbyists are using ‘scare tactics’ to protect their financial interests at the public’s expense.”

Item: “Officials at Cardinal Ethanol in Union City, Ind., embraced last week’s decision by [the] Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to change ethanol standards as an ‘important first step,’” reported the News-Gazette (Winchester, Ind.). “EPA raised the blend wall from E-10 to E-15 for 2007 and newer vehicles, in response to a national green jobs initiative.”

Item: The Obama administration, reported the Politico website for October 21, “will propose the first-ever greenhouse-gas emission limits for heavy trucks and buses next week.” The joint rule calling for a 20-percent reduction, issued by the EPA and Transportation Department, is “the latest in a series aimed at boosting fuel economy and slashing greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks.”

Item: “A U.N. biodiversity conference aims to address a simple problem:‘We are destroying life on Earth,’ said the head of the U.N. Environmental Program,” reported for October 18. “The world cannot afford to allow nature’s riches to disappear, the United Nations said … Monday at the start of a major meeting to combat losses in animal and plant species that underpin livelihoods and economies.... A U.N.-backed study [in October] said global environmental damage caused by human activity in 2008 totaled $6.6 trillion, equivalent to 11 percent of global gross economic activity.”

Correction: Washington is a place like no other — where it is the feverish Chicken Little who runs in circles yelling that all those in his way are hysterical alarmists employing scare tactics.

If we don’t hand over control to the federal mandarins, we have been led to believe in recent years, we’ll be fried by acid rain, seared because the ozone layer has gone astray, inundated by the seas rising 20 feet or more, and doomed to disaster with no winters for the next generation (those last pair of prophecies being two of Al Gore’s lurid fantasies). If you have the common sense not to believe these overwrought oracles, you risk being dubbed, of all things, an extremist.

The eco-activists, by design, will never be satisfied. In Washington, gradualism is usually the game. When the most rabid green lobbyists call for a 35-percent slashing of emissions, a 20-percent cut becomes “modest.” The folks whose very industries are threatened probably don’t see it that way, but since they are branded as rapacious, their views are given less credence.

Whether the issue is ethanol, so-called green jobs, global warming (most recently re-re-dubbed “global climate disruption”), or the imposition of burdensome regulations, the arrogance of the rule makers is astonishing, even if their previous warnings have proven defective. You may not like all of this, but you’ll pay for it, unless you happen to be on the government’s payoff list for subsidies.

Consider the federal push for ethanol, which one might think unlikely to be championed by those who profess themselves to be environmentalists. After all, there is considerable proof that it costs more than gasoline, gets poorer mileage, boosts carbon emissions, and is — when there is a level playing field — less popular with consumers. The huge subsidies to Big Corn also increase the price of food in the United States. (Somehow, the administration isn’t worried about this lobby, with the Agriculture Secretary having just called the EPA’s decision a “momentum builder” for the industry.) Oh, yes, and ethanol has been found to be more likely to hurt your car’s engine.

Still, if you want to buy from or invest in the ethanol industry, you should be able to, but not by providing it an unfair advantage over competitors. Domestic corn-based ethanol, as pointed out by Gregg Easterbrook in an analysis published by Reuters, “is subsidized via federal payments to grain farmers, by refinery tax exemptions for fuel containing domestic ethanol, and by tariff barriers intended to prevent Brazilian sugar-based ethanol from the entering the country. Annual federal subsidies to corn ethanol cost around $5 billion.”

The central planners have deemed that Americans should use 36 billion gallons of ethanol by the year 2022. Since we haven’t been buying enough, the incentives have been altered.

Earlier this year, the administration was trying to lead a stampede to pass cap-and-trade legislation. If the lawmakers wouldn’t comply, the bureaucrats would step in. That threat was there for all to see. A White House official told Fox News that if Congress didn’t act, the EPA “is going to have to regulate in this area.” The official also said that “it is not going to be able to regulate on a market-based way, so it’s going to have to regulate in a command-and-control way, which will probably generate even more uncertainty.” The job loss of the Senate legislation being pushed was estimated by the Heritage Foundation at 2.5 million in some years, including a million jobs in the manufacturing sector. Since it wasn’t passed, the regulators have indeed moved in to do the job themselves.

Kathleen Harnett White, the former chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and director of the Armstrong Center for Energy and Environment at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, has called the EPA’s recent actions “staggering.” The agency’s “boldest moves,” she wrote on National Review Online,

have been to revise federal ozone standards and implement new greenhouse-gas regulations. These rules will impact industries and small businesses across the country on a scale that could drive the lion’s share of the U.S. manufacturing base to foreign countries. With its many energy industries and energy-intensive manufacturing industries, Texas will be disproportionately harmed....
EPA estimates that the new ozone standard could cost as much as $90 billion, which would make it the most expensive EPA rule ever.

The EPA itself has estimated that its fiat could put them in charge of regulating almost six million facilities. Keep in mind the excuse for all of this is the duplicitous global-warming hype. Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has noted that the agency may find itself “forced to regulate” the following:

260,000 office buildings; 150,000 warehouses; 92,000 health care facilities; 71,000 hotels and motels; 51,000 food service facilities; 37,000 churches and other places of worship, and 17,000 farms. On top of this, EPA’s global-warming regulations will catch aluminum production, ammonia production, cement, iron, steel, lime, petrochemical, phosphoric acid production, and pulp and paper manufacturing.
So what’s the net effect of these regulations on global warming? EPA estimates that global mean temperature would be reduced by 0.006 to 0.0015 °C by 2100. That’s an amount so small it can’t be measured by a ground-based thermometer.

In the meantime, the administration’s vaunted campaign for green jobs is a bust. Remember way back when those hundreds of billions of dollars that we couldn’t afford were going to be used to create jobs? Well, they did — but not, by and large, in the United States. About 11 percent of the original $814 billion stimulus package was earmarked for alleged renewable energy projects. But even by the administration’s own figures, there were only 82,000 green jobs created, not the promised 190,700. Moreover, as pointed out in a report by the Heartland Institute, as much as 80 percent of some of the green programs, including $2.3 billion in tax credits, went to foreign companies that employed workers primarily in Communist China, South Korea, and Spain.

None of this has sated the appetite of the regulators, who have more oppressive plans in store. In addition to the EPA’s efforts on emissions, there is a long line of other burdens awaiting American businesses. As was noted in the Washington Times on October 19 by Representative Fred Upton (R-Mich.), ranking member of the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee,

The EPA is working on a regulatory train wreck that includes the following job-killing regulations:

Cooling water intake systems for power plants: Costs would range from $300 million per coal plant (413 facilities impacted) to $1 billion for nuclear (59 units impacted)....

Coal ash: New EPA regulations could cost more than $20 billion and tens of thousands of jobs.

Industrial and commercial boilers: New EPA regulations put nearly 800,000 jobs at risk.

If the EPA and its enablers in Congress continue to have their way, the only renewable jobs that will be sustained will be those of the green lobbyists and their captive lawmakers, the posts of career bureaucrats, and those with their hands out for federal subsidies.

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