Republicans for Dirtier Air and Fewer Jobs
House Republicans have scheduled a vote Friday to cripple the Clean Air Act. Their bill would allow more pollution of our air and change the way the Clean Air Act has been implemented over the past 40 years. I'm sure anyone with COPD, asthma and other respiratory and auto-immune disorders is simply thrilled that this a major priority for Republicans in Congress:
The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Friday on a bill that's mushroomed recently into a plan to block the Obama administration's two main rules to clean up air pollution from power plants and change the way the Clean Air Act has worked for 40 years. [...]
The amendments would eliminate two air pollution rules for power plants that are nearly ready to go into effect after years of delays. It also would require the Environmental Protection Agency to base acceptable levels of pollution on economic, as well as health, considerations. [...]
One, by Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, would force the EPA to redo the two pending regulations: One would reduce air pollution that crosses state lines in the Eastern half of the country, and the second would limit mercury and other hazardous air pollutants from power plants for the first time nationwide. [...]
The amendment by Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio, would require the EPA to consider feasibility and cost when setting the amount of pollution in the air that's acceptable. This change would negate a unanimous 2001 Supreme Court ruling that the Clean Air Act doesn't allow the EPA to take costs into account when it's setting air standards.
John Walke, an attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, wrote in a blog that the change would force the EPA "to set unprotective air quality standards for smog and soot and lead pollution that are at odds with health science, based on cost complaints by polluting industries."
Of course, the Republicans have no evidence (other than their repeated talking points) that the Clean Air Act has cost the US economy jobs. The EPA, on the other hand, has done a study about this issue. Here's what this study concluded regarding the costs and benefits of the Clean Air Act for the period 1990-2020:
The extent to which estimated benefits exceed estimated costs and an in-depth analysis of uncertainties indicate that it is extremely unlikely the costs of 1990 Clean Air Act Amendment programs would exceed their benefits under any reasonable combination of alternative assumptions or methods identified during this study.Even if one were to adopt the extreme assumption that air pollution has no effect on premature mortality –or that avoiding such effects has no value—the benefits of reduced nonfatal health effects and visibility improvements alone are more than twice the total cost of compliance with 1990 Clean Air Act Amendment requirements. [...]
Economy-wide modeling was also conducted to estimate the effect of the 1990 Amendments on overall U.S. economic growth and the economic welfare of American households. When some of the beneficial economic effects of clean air programs were incorporated along with the costs of these programs, economy‐wide modeling projected net overall improvements in economic growth and welfare. These improvements are projected to occur because cleaner air leads to better health and productivity for American workers as well as savings on medical expenses for air pollution related health problems. The beneficial economic effects of these two improvements more than offset the costly effects across the economy of expenditures for pollution control.
Here's chart from that study showing the costs of retaining the Clean Air Act and the EPA's authorization to implement regulations that require energy companies to keep the air we breathe as clean as possible:
Notice that the costs of EPA regulations under the Clean Air Act for this 30 year period are $65 Billion, or roughly $2.2 Billion per year. The benefits, on the other hand are $2 Trillion. Thus the economic benefits of regulation under the Clean Air Act exceed the costs of those regulations by a factor of 33, or, that is, we as a nation receive $33 dollars in benefits for every $1 in costs because the EPA enforces the Clean Air Act as it is currently written.
Let me put it another way. Do the math. Subtract $65 Billion ($65,000,000,000) of costs from $2 Trillion (2,000,000,000,000) of benefits, and the net gain is $1,935 TRILLION to our country. That works out to a net benefit of $65.5 BILLION on average each year between 1990 and 2010.
Let's look at another chart from that study shall we?
That's quite a list of benefits to the nation. The health care costs alone, not to mention the decreased number of days missed by workers due to unhealthy air as a result of EPA regulations under the Clean Air Act is simply astonishing. Yet, to save polluters a few billion bucks a year to pad their profit margins, the Republicans in Congress are willing to damage the health of millions of Americans and damage the productivity of our nation's economy.
Tell me again why we should vote for Republicans? Oh right, because doing all this harm to the economy by limiting the enforcement powers if the EPA supposedly will create "more jobs" despite the fact that energy companies, during a period of record, massive profits, these same companies have reduced their workforce.
Led by Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee released a report today that concluded that the nation’s five biggest publicly traded oil companies have been paring their global workforce even as they rake in big profits.
Markey, the top Democrat on the panel, says the findings buck the argument that the oil and gas industry could generate new jobs in America if given greater access to U.S. lands and waters.
“Oil companies that make record profits and then cut American jobs strain their own credibility when they claim to be huge job creators,” Markey said. “Americans are seeing a huge cut of their paycheck go to pay for gas, a little more then goes to fund tax cuts for the same oil companies selling the gas, and then the oil companies take this money and cut American jobs.”[...]
According to the analysis, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP, Shell and Conoco Phillips recorded $36 billion in profits during the second quarter of 2011, but then repurchased nearly $10 billion of their own stock and gave shareholders more than $7 billion in dividend payments during that same time frame.
The report also hits the majors for paying executives an estimated $220 million in salaries and bonusesduring 2010 — at the same time that the companies trimmed their global workforce by a combined 4,400 employees.
To my way of thinking, these corporate "persons" are practicing wealth re-distribution. They are taking their profits and government subsidies and re-distributing that money to their investors and senior executives, while at the same time taking more money out of ordinary Americans pocketbooks and cutting jobs, not "creating" them. And they want to harm the health of our people and damage our economy even more just so they can make even more profits?
There's several words for that behavior: EVIL, for one. Also, IMMORAL. And the Republicans who are looking after these polluters' interests in Congress by proposing such drastic and utterly unnecessary legislation are the minions of these evil and immoral corporations. There are words for that, too: CORRUPT. LACKEYS. TOADIES. LIARS. SCUMBAGS.