EPA _ Protecting the Environment or Killing the Economy?

Stephen Stromberg writing for the Washington Post asked:  “The GOP can attack what it doesn’t like, but can it govern?” He then goes on to attack Republicans for wanting to do away with many EPA regulations with no concern for the environment. here is some of what he had to say:

Now, Republicans have outlined a jobs agenda that mainly consists of eviscerating federal regulations they don’t like, with a particular focus on rules designed to protect the environment. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) released a memorandum to GOP lawmakers on Monday that targets the ten most “job-destroying” regulations in the federal register. Seven of them are rules the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is on track to impose.

But what’s the GOP alternative to EPA restrictions on mercury, acid gases, ozone and greenhouse emissions? Cantor’s memo only talks about delaying and weakening proposed rules, not some different approach to environmental protection. Maybe we just don’t need any more of that?

Mr. Stromberg recognizes that there are indeed cost related to environmental regulations but he says there are also benefits, which he claims Republicans ignore.

There are undoubted costs to environmental regulations. But there are also large benefits. Cantor’s document just doesn’t mention any. A recent Office of Management and Budget review found that existing EPA regulations, particularly those dealing with the air, are among the costliest to comply with — but also among the most valuable, with benefits often vastly exceeding costs, dollar for dollar. In fact, part of the reason the price of environmental regulation is known is that EPA must run rigorous cost-benefit analyses on its rules before finalizing them. That’s how it reckons that every dollar spent on some of the measures Cantor is targeting — those cutting cross-state particulate and ozone pollution — will result in $30 in economic benefits from employees taking fewer sick days, a lower incidence of many chronic illnesses, and fewer early deaths. And let’s not even get into climate change.  (emphasis added)

The words I put in bold _  rigorous cost-benefit analyses _ are the crux of the problem. Few people, outside of rabid environmentalist, give any credence to the EPA’s cost benefit analyses. Do any of you really believe that $30 in benefits for every dollar spent story?

There is good reason to be dubious about the EPA’s costs/benefits analysis. We know that environmentalism is a religion for some people. We know that Marxist  have a great deal of influence in most environmental groups. We know that the government and the EPA in particular are over run with people who believe that humanity is a cancer on the Mother Earth.

The EPA has a web page dedicated to the Clean Air Act. Here is the opening sentence:

EPA projects that the Clean Air Act Amendments will prevent over 230,000 early deaths in 2020.  Learn more about the Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act.

There is no way to prove that 230,000 people won’t die prematurely  in the year 2020 due the benefits of the Clean Air Act. These estimates are based on models put together by people who have an agenda. Even if that figure could be proven, a proper question to raise is which regulations had the most benefit?  There is something called “The Law fo Diminishing Returns” and this explanation comes from Wikipedia:

The law of diminishing returns (also law of diminishing marginal returns or law of increasing relative cost) states that in all productive processes, adding more of one factor of production, while holding all others constant, will at some point yield lower per-unit returns.[1] The law of diminishing returns does not imply that adding more of a factor will decrease the total production, a condition known as negative returns, though in fact this is common.

Let me give you a real life example. My first job as an engineer fresh out of school was with a large copper mining, processing and smelting company in  Southwest New Mexico in 1969. The EPA’s clean air regulations for sulphur dioxide emissions were fairly new. The company, which had been operating at this site since the early 1930’s was in the process of building a multi-million dollar facility to remove 90% of the SO2 from their stack gases.

There was a small town of about 600 people very close to this complex, which at one time had been a company owned town.  Whenever there was an atmospheric inversion in the area, the stack gases fell on this little town and I can tell you it wasn’t pleasant. When the project was completed, there was a very noticeable improvement in the quality of life in this town.

Removing the SO2 resulted in a new problem for the company. The removed SO2 was now in the form of liquid sulphuric acid which had to be stored and hopefully sold. The sulphuric acid market was soon saturated. In the 12 years I worked for this company, I can only remember a handful of quarters when the sulphuric acid department reported a profit.

I think it was three years after the completion of this project that the EPA came out with new air quality standards for SO2 emissions. The company was then requires to remove 90% of the remaining emissions. This cost the company ten times more than removing the first 90%. No one in the little town could note any difference. That, my friends is a case of diminishing returns.

So, where am I going with this. Here is the final paragraph of the Washington Post article.

 If Republicans block putting a price on carbon emissions or other pollutants, and if they criticize federal money spent on things such as clean energy research, they leave anyone concerned with global warming or ambient air and water quality with few choices but to press for robust executive-branch regulation already allowed under the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. It might not be pretty, and it might not be cheap. But it’s almost certainly better than doing little or nothing, which seems to be the GOP’s plan.

Republicans know the over regulation is killing the productive sector of our economy. and with it jobs. You can see that the Democrats and the media are preparing to attack the Republican proposals by crying that those will proposals will allow the greedy corporations to poison our air and water and kill American citizens. The Republicans are going to be in the unenviable position of having to prove a negative.

Well, that’s what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?

31 thoughts on “EPA _ Protecting the Environment or Killing the Economy?

  1. Every organism, whether living or a bureaucracy such as the EPA exists to perpetuate its own existence. Long after the reasons for the EPAs coming into existence are gone, they have to find reasons for justifying their continued existence.

    It wont’ be long before they are regulating farts.

  2. You hit it on the head, Jim, when you asked, “does anyone really believe…” Their cost/benefit analysis is bullshit, to put it bluntly. They have to be pulling “facts” out of their hind quarters. How would they possibly know, or prove, that X amount of particulates in the air cause Y number of sick days? Someone just stuck in a number. To arrive at something like that on a factual basis you’d need to conduct an almost impossible trial over a very long time frame. You’d need two nearly identical populations in nearly identical places, one as a control with no particulates, and then you’d have to shower the other community with particulates in varying amounts (over a long period of time) and compare the two communities at every particulate level.

    Instead, what they doubtlessly do is ASSIGN X number of sick days to Y particulate concentration and then reach the stunning conclusion that reducing particulates reduces sick days. I can picture them sitting around a table making up the factors that their desired regulation will impact.

    The thing is, NOBODY wants a polluted environment. Tip to liberals: Conservatives live in the environment too! To believe that a conservative doesn’t care about the environment is to believe they don’t care about the air or water quality for their own children, or even themselves. It’s nonsensical. What does make sense is exactly what you pointed out: the law of diminishing returns. At some point you’re making no real impact, and it’s costing you way too much money to make that small impact; plus the spending of the money has other impacts, such as job loss, which probably has a bigger impact on the quality of life in any particular community or family than some tiny percentage of pollution.

    I’ve been in both third world countries and developing economies, as well as in a rich first-world nation like the USA. I can tell you without a doubt, the key to a clean environment is WEALTH. Poor and struggling people do not give a rat’s ass about their environment, which isn’t to say they wouldn’t appreciate a cleaner environment, they just don’t have the time or resources to do anything about it. Good lord… just drive through a poor neighborhood and a wealthy neighborhood and tell me which is cleaner. The environmentalists have lost the concept of balance, where they understand that the wealth has to come first and be sustained, because if you harm the wealth, you ultimately lose the battle for the environment too.

    1. Pat, your point that not even conservatives want to live in a polluted environment is right on the money. Also, you’re right about only wealthy nations having clean environments. You should see what it is like here in Venezuela, or maybe you shouldn’t.

  3. The debate about our environment seems to be never-ending. We can see politicians giving speech on how necessary it is to do something but they rarely offer solutions. Unfortunately, the standard of living and the economic vitality of many countries depend on the increasing availability of inexpensive, clean, renewable sources of energyrenewable sources of energy so unless the governments take some real action we shouldn´t expect much economic progress.

    1. Thanks for coming by, Jamie. The sad thing is there are hundreds of billion of dollar ready to be invested in energy projects right now but are blocked by the EPA. These projects bring with them hundreds of thousands of “shovel ready” jobs and billions of dollars in tax revenue. But, Obama is not interested. These projects are not “green”.

  4. Ah, but regarding carbon emissions, the NEWEST science came out to prove that global warming/climate change is caused by (drum roll) the sun’s rays!! Oh, dear, what are all of those climatologists, carbon footprint bankers going to do?
    The EPA needs more regulating.

  5. Risk benefit rewards applies to the EPA standards no doubt. I wish all this commotion was just about clean air and clean water, But alas, in my view, it is simply a way to enslave us, and to achieve “their” agenda which is not human friendly. But hey, Gai will be happy.

  6. Applying what I’ve learned from my Wall St and Bolshevik study, I conclude the EPA was created for the express purpose of using Marxism to control American industry. Remember that socialism is the monopolist’s best friend. This agency was funded with the totally unhinged fiat currency right after Bretton Woods and is like a tool for the globalists to move industry around. They just can’t outright take factories away from American citizens, but they can set up regulations to make it impossible for them to operate. Remember that at the time Nixon set up the EPA, David Rockefeller and his ilk were working things in China, getting it ready for what we have today.

    We need to stop playing their game and getting caught up in the rhetoric of environmentalism, because that’s exactly what they want us to do. It’s obvious that the environment is last on their agenda, and American industry on the top of the hit list. I say we start talking about the deliberate knee-capping of America and ignore the liberals’ environmentalist spin.

  7. Ah, ha…if I hadn’t smoked 10,000 cigars over the past decade, a half million Latin American tobacco growers would have died from malnutrition. No? Then prove the negative, which is the same as the regulatory arguments promulgated by the EPA.

    “These estimates are based on models put together by people who have an agenda.”

    Bingo, Jim. Truer words were never spoken. My humble agenda is to argue that cigar smoking is a beneficial activity; theirs is to return us to those halcyon days of the Pleistocene.

  8. Cost-benefit analysis? Are those the same clowns that said a dollar of food stamps creates $1.84 of wealth in the economy? All the more reason to listen to Cantor’s ideas.

  9. Just try to sell your home to a developer if your home has any oil storage tanks! I’ve been down that road, and one reason the sale fell through was the onerous EPA regulations.

    So often, people just don’t realize how much the EPA regs are costing them — beyond having to pay the EPA employees, of course.

  10. When Bush was in power and all the Democrats were doing was attacking him did anyone in the media ask them if they could actually govern and not simply attack? No, they didn’t and now look at the hole we are in!
    The EPA and this green agenda are killing the economy and I believe it is being done on purpose because the goal of the left is to get as many people as possible to be dependent on the government for their survival.

  11. When you read through the list of job killing regulations, it is clear that they are all pure bunk–none of them could survive any true cost-benefit analysis. They do not even come close.
    Someone challenged me the other day, saying that since I was against new EPA regulations, I must want to the US to be polluted like China or some other crap hole. My answer is that this is not the 1890s, where there were no labor laws in the US, no laws regarding pollution, and no laws regarding food safety. No one is proposing that we return to those times or that all regulations regarding public health and safety be abolished (well, maybe Ron Paul is, but most people aren’t).
    What we need is simple common sense, and the modern welfare-bureaucracy in the US seems devoid of that.

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