Is EPA's Clean Power Plan a Killer In The Long Run?

Institute for Energy Research contends thousands will die as a result of the new regulation.

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When the EPA trotted out its Clean Power Plan as part of President Obama’s climate change effort, the agency no doubt expected to spark some debate. However, one group is arguing that thousands will die as a result of the new regulation.

From the Daily Caller:

The EPA claims its Clean Power Plan will end up saving lives from reducing air pollution, but a new report by a free market energy group warns the agency’s global warming rule will end up killing more than it saves.

“The EPA’s climate rule has no discernible impact on climate change and may cause thousands of premature deaths in the United States,” according to a recent report by the free market Institute for Energy Research (IER). “The EPA relies on faulty data to make exaggerated claims about the benefits of a rule that will cost Americans hundreds of billions of dollars and plunge millions of families into poverty.”

“The loss of disposable income due to higher energy bills will leave families with less money to spend on health care, prescriptions, and other essentials. Therefore, EPA should withdraw its expensive and harmful carbon regulation,” according to IER’s report.

As part of President Barack Obama’s global warming agenda, the EPA finalized the Clean Power Plan earlier this month. The rule aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and limit emissions from newly built electricity generating units. The rule is expected to have virtually no impact on global warming, but the EPA argues thousands of lives will be saved every year as coal plants are shut down and levels of air pollutants decrease.

“Our most vulnerable citizens, including children, older adults, people with heart or lung disease and people living in poverty are most at risk to the health impacts of climate change,” the EPA claims of its Clean Power Plant. “The transition to cleaner sources of energy, which is already underway, will better protect Americans from other harmful air pollution, too.”

But the Clean Power Plan will also raise energy prices as coal-fired power plants are forced to shut down and more expensive, new sources of electricity come online. IER notes that “EPA ignores the link between health and wealth.”

Basically, higher energy prices will decrease poor people’s’ disposable income and, therefore, “may end up causing far more premature deaths than it prevents, even if we accept the EPA’s numbers at face value,” according to IER. By 2030, IER estimates 14,000 more people will die from reduced incomes than will be saved by the EPA’s rules. And this is taking the EPA’s own data and assumptions at face value.

The EPA is familiar with link between health and wealth, having used that link previously in their own arguments for various regulations.

While the EPA argues that the costs will be $8.4 billion, they expect somewhere in the neighborhood of $45 billion in net benefits.  However, IER argues that the EPA has failed to account for the “health to wealth” ratio.

The EPA estimates the Clean Power Plan will result in as many as $45 billion in net benefits by 2030, and the cost will only be $8.4 billion. But this is done by ignoring the “health-wealth” connection, according to IER. The group used the EPA’s own health data and combined it with a study published last year on the economic impacts of the Clean Power Plan to find out just how many could die from higher energy prices

The results were staggering. IER estimated that economic losses of $366 billion would contribute to as many as 35,000 premature deaths by 2030. When compared to EPA’s estimate of 3,600 lives saved by that time, the deaths from higher energy prices outweigh the number of lives saved from less air pollution by 14,000.

The question then becomes whether the IER report is right, or whether this is nothing more than partisan fear mongering.  However, common sense dictates that when people have only so much money available, and the price of a necessity increases, then they have to cut back somewhere else.

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