No Health Benefits without Affordable Energy; New Air-Quality Rules Will Further Impoverish Poor Communities

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 2, 2011 | Go to article overview
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No Health Benefits without Affordable Energy; New Air-Quality Rules Will Further Impoverish Poor Communities


Byline: Niger Innis, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Environmental Protection Agency insists that its air-quality initiatives will protect minority and poor Americans from pollution that disproportionately affects their health and impairs environmental justice. Their argument is not convincing.

Public health, pollution control and justice are important goals. However, the EPA's proposed rules actually undermine those objectives by impairing access to affordable, reliable energy - thus impairing people's health and welfare.

The EPA's health claims about mercury, soot, ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and other pollutants are speculative and based on selective literature searches, according to an extensive analysis by natural scientist Willie Soon (posted at AffordablePowerAlliance.org). The agency failed to consider studies that contradict its claims that poor and minority communities face serious, immediate health risks from power plant emissions, say Mr. Soon and scientists cited in his report.

These emissions have been declining for decades and are not related to asthma rates, which have been rising for reasons unrelated to outdoor air pollution, say air pollution consultant Joel Schwartz and other specialists. Rapid power plant emission reductions of the magnitude contemplated by the EPA would thus not seem necessary.

Worse, the EPA's pollution rules will impair access to affordable electricity. They will force the closure of multiple power plants, send electricity prices soaring 12 percent to 60 percent, and severely impact business and family budgets, according to studies by Management Information Services, utility associations and other experts.

Especially in the 26 states that rely on coal for 48 percent to 98 percent of their electricity, the EPA's actions would raise factory, hospital, office, hotel, school, church, charity and other business electricity costs by thousands to millions of dollars annually.

Because every $30,000 in increased energy costs could mean the elimination of another entry-level job, the EPA's rules would cause further job losses. Management Information Services predicts that 3.5 million jobs and up to $82 billion in annual economic production would be lost in just six Midwestern manufacturing states.

Chicago public schools alone would face an extra $2.7 million a year for electricity by 2014, the Chicago Tribune notes. These increases would mean reductions in school employment, salaries and academic, sports and music programs.

Unemployment is already 9.1 percent nationally and more than 16 percent in black communities. The EPA's plans would worsen these rates, significantly increase household energy costs and make poor, minority and elderly families even less able to afford gasoline, food, clothing, health care and other basic needs.

Many families would suffer increased stress, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and crime rates. Unable to afford proper heating and air conditioning, disproportionate numbers of people in low-income communities would face hypothermia during frigid winter months and heat prostration during summer heat waves.

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No Health Benefits without Affordable Energy; New Air-Quality Rules Will Further Impoverish Poor Communities
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