The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims the finalized “Clean Power Plan” will have climate and health benefits for Americans worth tens of billions of dollars and save thousands of lives per year. Despite the rise in electricity prices that will result from the implementation of this rule, the agency asserts the regulation is a “historic step” toward combating climate change and improving public health.
However, the EPA has been extremely one-sided in its analysis of the costs and benefits of the rule. The rule requires states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent in 2030, though these emission reductions will have essentially no impact on global warming, reducing the rise in global temperatures by just 0.02 degrees Celsius in 2100. Because the climate rule will not affect climate change, the Obama administration relies on health co-benefits that have nothing to do with regulating carbon dioxide. These health co-benefits comprise over two-thirds of the total benefits, including EPA’s claim that the rule prevents thousands of premature deaths. The EPA has also turned to linking climate change to asthma to garner public support for the rule. While EPA claims its carbon rule will save lives, the agency fails to acknowledge how many deaths the plan may cause.
Specifically, EPA ignores the link between health and wealth. By increasing electricity prices and decreasing the disposable income of low-income families,the rule may end up causing far more premature deaths than it prevents, even if we accept the EPA’s numbers at face value. In fact, as explained below, our estimates indicate EPA’s rule could cause—on balance—14,000 more premature deaths by 2030. Vulnerable, low-income families, who spend a of their incomes on energy, will be harmed the most—and could be forced to forgo necessities such as food, medical care, and prescription drugs. By forcing higher energy prices on American families, the rule will end up making the poor poorer and the sick sicker.
The EPA acknowledged this “health-wealth” connection in the past and has used it in economic analyses, stating: “people’s wealth and health status, as measured by mortality, morbidity, and other metrics, are positively correlated. Hence, those who bear a regulation’s compliance costs may also suffer a decline in their health status, and if the costs are large enough, these increased risks might be greater than the direct risk-reduction benefits of the regulation.”
Although the EPA used to appreciate the health-wealth link, EPA now ignores it to promote President Obama’s carbon agenda. Citing Executive Order 13563 in the Regulatory Impact Analysis for the Clean Power Plan, the EPA recounts that, “our regulatory system must protect public health, welfare, safety, and our environment while promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation.” Unfortunately, in neglecting to accurately assess the public health costs of the carbon rule, the EPA is poised to negatively impact Americans’ health, discourage economic growth, and destroy jobs—all for essentially no effect on climate change. (Read more from “The Poor and the Sick Suffer Under Obama’s Carbon Rule” HERE)