EPA Subverts Science to Justify Clear Skies
by Guest Blogger
Dec 2, 2005
A new Congressional Research Services report finds Clear Skies will have far fewer health benefits than competing pollution legislation. Moreover, EPA exaggerated the costs of more stringent pollution controls to justify the administration's bogus Clear Skies Initiative. From the report:
CRS reexamines EPA's data, producing cost and benefit estimates for each bill incremental to the costs and benefits of current law and promulgated regulations. The reanalysis finds that Clear Skies would have negligible incremental costs and added benefits of $6 billion in 2010 and $3 billion in 2020. For the same years, S. 843 would have annual net benefits 8 and 5 times as great as Clear Skies at annual costs of $4.2 billion and $3 billion, and S. 150 would have annual net benefits 10 and 16 times those of Clear Skies at annual costs of $23.6 billion and $18.1 billion.
EPA conducted limited sensitivity analyses to examine the effect on cost of select combinations of assumptions, including (1) the responsiveness of electricity demand to changes in price; (2) the availability of skilled labor to install control equipment; and (3) the growth of electricity demand and natural gas prices. However, some potentially useful combinations of assumptions were not examined. For example, if EPA had combined a relaxed skilled labor constraint with some responsiveness of electricity demand to changes in price, the cost of S. 150 and S. 843 would be substantially reduced. CRS also concluded that the Hg control costs used in the analysis may be substantially overstated because of dated assumptions.
Numerous benefits were not estimated by EPA, partly because of methodological difficulties. Benefits not estimated include the environmental (as opposed to health) benefits of controlling the pollutants; the health effects of mercury control; and any benefits from controlling CO2 emissions. Thus, even though benefits exceeded costs for each of the options in both EPA's and our analysis, one should perhaps view the benefit estimates as a floor rather than a best estimate, particularly for S. 150 and S. 843, which include significant Hg and CO2 reductions.
Even by EPA's numbers, Clear Skies is no better at controlling pollution than existing regulations.