Buyer Beware: New EPA Regulations Are All Smog and Mirrors

Buyer Beware: New EPA Regulations Are All Smog and Mirrors
June 20, 2014

Isaac Orr

Isaac Orr is a research fellow for energy and environment policy at The Heartland Institute. Orr is... (read full bio)

Have you ever been shopping for a computer and felt like the salesman used “tech-talk” and a lot of words you didn’t understand just to confuse you so he could “up-sell” you on the “latest” and most expensive features?

The Obama Administration and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are employing this tactic and other sorts of “used-car-salesman” tricks in an attempt to sell the public on expensive and unpopular regulations that would require existing electricity power plants to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent of 2005 base-levels by the year 2030. It’s a smog-and-mirrors trick, nothing more.

These regulations, supposedly aimed at addressing climate change, will raise electricity bills by an estimated 10 percent by 2030, cost anywhere from $8.8 billion to $50 billion a year to implement, and potentially kill hundreds-of-thousands of jobs.

Even worse, these regulations would result in no climate-relevant decrease in warming, according to Daniel Simmons at the Institute for Energy Research. Zero. The total amount of carbon dioxide emissions reduced by the EPA rules between now and 2030 would represent about 2 percent of the carbon emissions released globally in just one year, 2012. EPA didn’t even bother to run a model to show how this would affect climate, because the agency knew the results would be unimpressive at best.

Instead of coming clean to the American public about this fact, the administration has decided to dupe the public. Obama and his regulators are calling power-plant emissions of carbon dioxide—a gas that occurs naturally, is scientifically proven to enrich plant growth at high concentrations, and is the same gas you “emit” by exhaling—by a more alarming term: carbon pollution.

Proponents of the rule know that if they use the scary term “carbon pollution,” the general public will be more in favor of regulating it. A Penn and Teller video shows how eager people are to sign petitions to ban dihydrogen monoxide—a scary-sounding scientific name for water. If something “sounds” dangerous, people are more likely to want to ban it. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant; it is essential for life on Earth. The term “carbon pollution” is nothing more than a scare tactic, end of story.

Another classic trick of unscrupulous businessmen and politicians is the bait-and-switch. A customer is “baited” by sellers advertising a product, but when the customer arrives at the store, the advertised product isn’t available. The customer is then pressured to buy a higher-priced option.

EPA is employing a similar tactic by claiming these expensive regulations are about helping kids with asthma, instead of addressing climate change. The agency’s regulators know there are no real climate benefits to these regulations, and frankly, sick kids sell.

Although the Obama administration claims regulating CO2 will reduce some of the airborne pollutants that contribute to asthma attacks, this is at best a half-truth. Burning coal does emit real pollutants, such as mercury, sulfur dioxide, and soot, which could contribute to illness, but those pollutants are already heavily regulated by EPA under the Clean Air Act, independent of any CO2 restrictions.

The president ‘s display of newfound concern for kids with asthma looks particularly disingenuous because some of his past actions have placed children at higher risk of getting the disease in the first place. Now he is posturing about treating the symptoms while ignoring the cause.

For example, in 2012, the administration attempted to pass regulations limiting the kinds of chores kids can do on the farm, ignoring scientific studies that have shown that kids who are exposed to a wide variety of dirt, dander, and bacteria—as is the case for farm kids—are less likely to develop allergies and asthma than children who are not exposed.

The administration’s new regulations are not about climate change: They can’t stop India and China from burning coal, and those countries will be the major drivers of CO2 emissions in the future. The regulations are also not about stopping pollution, because carbon pollution is a made-up term and we already regulate other power-plant pollutants. They are not about helping kids with asthma, either.

These regulations are about punishing people the president sees as enemies, by saddling them with multibillion-dollar restrictions that would significantly raise costs throughout the entire economy. That’s an absurd price to pay for a smog-and-mirrors show.

 

[Originally published at Inside Sources]

Isaac Orr

Isaac Orr is a research fellow for energy and environment policy at The Heartland Institute. Orr is... (read full bio)