The EPA: Economic 'Savior' or Jolly Green Tyrant?

Rest easy America, for not only is the EPA busy saving the planet, it’s taken on a new responsibility: saving the economy. The Departments of Commerce and Energy can close up shop and Treasury Department better start investing in some new equipment to count all of the riches that are going to flood into America’s coffers now that EPA is on the job.

How can an agency charged with protecting human health and the environment that’s famous for placing obstacles in front of industry that Evil Keneval wouldn’t be able to clear succeed in jump starting the economy, when the rest of the Obama administration has failed so miserably at the task? It’s a complicated formula, but it all boils down to this for EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson: what’s good for the environment is good for the economy.

Really.

Forget all that rubbish you may have heard that suggests that piling more and more regulations on American industry inhibits economic growth. It’s actually quite the opposite, and we know this because Ms. Jackson assures us it is so: the more environmental regulations, the more money we’ll all make. Don’t you worry for a moment about abandoning the use of the cheapest, most abundant energy resource we have, for example. America will be far better off burning less coal and generating electricity by using… er… uh… Well, we’re still working that out, but the less coal we use the more money we’ll make and we’ll also reduce our dependence on foreign oil – or something like that. They’re still working up the figures summarizing coal imports from Saudi Arabia, apparently.

You think I’m exaggerating? Would that were the case. The EPA has never exactly been a friend to America’s manufacturers and the energy sector, but nor has the agency ever been positively delusional. How else can one explain this statement by Ms. Jackson, uttered during a dinner marking the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Air Act:

“And as air pollution has dropped over the last 40 years, our national GDP has risen by 207 percent,” she said. “The total benefits of the Clean Air Act amount to more than 40 times the costs of regulation. For every one dollar we have spent, we get more than $40 of benefits in return. Say what you want about EPA’s business sense, but we know how to get a return on an investment. In short, the Clean Air Act is one of the most cost-effective things the American people have done for themselves in the last half century.”

Got that? America owes it economic growth over the past forty years to the EPA. Who knew? The Agency offers a 4,000 per cent return on investment! The added costs of all of that pollution control equipment we pay for on our cars and that get factored into our electricity bills aren’t costs at all. The sad thing is, Ms. Jackson probably believes every bit of it.

And so we see more from this EPA than ever before: more regulations, more restrictions and more rackets. A cascade of new, unbelievably restrictive regulations and standards will spell the end of the coal industry in the United States, cripple our manufacturing sector and usher in a new era of unprecedentedly high energy prices. Forget all you thought you knew about the death of Cap and Trade Co spelling the end of greenhouse gas regulation. Jackson’s EPA is attacking fossil fuels from a dozen different directions and the attacks are so multi-faceted and technically subtle that nobody in Congress is going to get it before it’s far too late.

Perhaps the most offensive strategy that Jackson EPA has pursued is to engage in something akin to a protection racket. The Agency has approached the owners of smaller, coal-fired power plants (of the sort typically owned by municipalities or farm co-ops) and offered them a simple choice: shut down or switch to bio-mass fuels. Failing to pick one of those options will result in the EPA pursuing Clean Air Act enforcement actions against the facility and, given the complexity of the Clean Air Act, the Agency is very, very good at finding violations whenever it wants to. “Nice power plant you got there pal,” the EPA is saying in effect. “It would be a shame if anything were to happen to it.”

But then it’s often hard to get people to do what’s best for them. All the EPA is trying to do is to right the ship before it’s too late. Another dozen or so major new regulations and happy days will be here again. Just you wait and see America – just wait and see.

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