EPA draft regulations released this week mandate power plants cut carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030. According to the EPA’s own measurements, the new regulations are set to do much more economic harm than environmental good.
The EPA estimates the cost of the regulations at $8.8 billion a year in 2030. The product? An EPA estimated warming prevention of .03 degrees Celsius by 2100. In other words, consumers will pay $616 billion more in energy costs for what the government claims will prevent warming of .03 degrees Celsius in 86 years– hardly a worthwhile expenditure even if we are to take the EPA at their word.
Speaking of taking the EPA at their word, it is important to note the disingenuous manner in which they present the cost of their regulations. In estimating the consumer cost at $8.8 billion per year, they assume in their calculations that U.S. energy usage will decline substantially as consumers and producers become more “energy efficient.” That is to say, the EPA assumes that with the added pressure of their government induced energy price increases, consumers will purchase products that require less energy consumption (energy efficient refrigerators anyone?) Of course, what they don’t take into account in their calculations is the price of that refrigerator. At the producer level, the cost of making new coal plants comply with the new rules will render the entire industry uncompetitive.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCOC) uses a more reasonable estimate (by historical standards) of energy usage in their calculated costs of the regulations. USCOC estimates a 1.4% increase in usage per year totaling in a regulatory consumer cost of $28.1 billion per year (~2 trillion by 2100).
While the EPA assumes their regulations will force everyone to become more energy efficient, they fail to advertise what this means exactly. Translated, their version of energy efficiency means effectively destroying the coal industry (the source of 40 percent of our electricity) and shooting energy prices through the roof as consumers pick up the cost of more expensive energy alternatives. And don’t take my word for it – in 2008 Obama stated his policies would make it impossible for the coal industry to expand, and would “necessarily bankrupt” anyone who thought to try.
Of course, the .03 degrees the EPA claims as the justified ends for its wasteful means is unsubstantiated by scientific analysis as being a consequence of human activity. What can be measured are both the economic impact – job loss and higher energy prices being the most prevalent – and the power reach of the EPA. Regardless of the economic costs, it remains a scary notion that a handful of bureaucrats can in one fell swoop take over the direction of an entire industry.