by Bishop Harry Jackon, Jr.
Summer is here, and everyone expects to pay a little more to keep the temperature in the house bearable. But do you expect to pay eight times as much as you have in previous years? Unfortunately, that is exactly what will happen to consumers in some parts of the country unless Congress stands up to the insane regulations on coal put forth by the Environmental Protection Agency.
During the last few years there have been hundreds of families in my denomination who have had trouble keeping basic utility bills paid. In warmer cities, the impoverished elderly routinely run the risk of heat strokes and occasional deaths in the summer. Why would the EPA enact policies that would cause many Americans–already affected by the recession–to go nearly bankrupt paying their utility bills? These problems are avoidable. Poor energy policies affect the poor disproportionately.
Nearly everyone agrees that the environment is important, but most of us also agree that it is not more important than the human beings who live in it. Taking care of your house is important, but you would not stop buying food for your children so that you could replace your windows.
When looking at measures to protect our air, water and other natural resources, we must weigh the cost of those measures against the benefits we can realistically expect. The EPA’s new Utility MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) rule is supposed to protect us from mercury emissions, and the agency readily admits it is the most expensive regulation in the EPA’s history. Let us start by looking at the projected costs and benefits.
The EPA estimates the new regulations will cost $10 billion a year, and they estimate the total benefits of mercury emissions that would supposedly be reduced by compliance with the regulation to be between $500,000 and $6 million. (Other touted benefits come from reducing particulate matter emissions that are already regulated separately.)
So the EPA is already telling us that it makes sense to pay tens of billions of dollars to save hundreds of thousands of dollars. But it’s even worse than that. The estimated cost of the regulation is almost certainly an understatement. For example, a study released last year found that the cost of a particular 1998 regulation known as the Cluster Rule was 34 percent higher than the EPA’s original estimates.
The estimated benefits may be even smaller: Mercury emissions circulate globally, and according to the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, U.S. power plants emit less than 48 tons of mercury per year, compared to 400 tons per year from Chinese power plants (and if you want to include Mother Nature in the mix, we can also mention the 9,000 tons per year that come from volcanoes, sub-sea vents and other natural sources).
Although the Utility MACT rule is not set to take effect until 2015, we have already observed several negative developments in response to these new regulations. First, power companies confirm that the Utility MACT makes it impossible for new coal plants to be built in the United States. Current coal plants are facing closures and are already generating less power, which means higher energy costs for everyone and thousands of lost jobs.
Source: Charisma News
Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr. is the senior pastor of Hope Christian Church, a 3,000-member congregation in the Washington, D.C., area. He is also founder and president of High Impact Leadership Coalition, which exists to protect the moral compass of America and be an agent of healing to our nation by educating and empowering churches, community and political leaders.