Last August, the the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) graded itself on its enforcement of the Clean Air Act (CAA) in terms of economic benefit-cost analysis. Surprise not: EPA came up with an astounding $31 of clean air benefits for every dollar of cost. That, and Administrator Lisa Jackson can leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Deja Vu: EPA’s 1997 Study
Back in 1997, the EPA credited itself with providing $22.2 trillion in benefits at a cost of a half trillion dollars from enforcing the CAA from 1970 (when the EPA was established) through 1990 (when Congress amended the CAA in stricter form)—a B/C ratio of more than 40-to-1.
Of the EPA’s $22 trillion net benefit estimate (gross benefits less cost), economists Randall Lutter and Richard B. Belzer wrote: “We know of no professional economist independent of EPA who takes the EPA’s estimate seriously,” for—if actually true—the sum would equal “roughly the aggregate net worth of all U.S.…
Presidential candidate Barack Obama promised that his policies would cause electricity rates to “skyrocket” and “bankrupt” any company trying to build a coal-fired generating plant. This is one promise he and his über-regulators are keeping.
President Obama energetically promotes wind and solar projects that require millions of acres of land and billions of dollars in subsidies to generate expensive, intermittent electricity and create (really centrally plan) jobs that cost taxpayers upwards of $220,000 apiece – most of them in China.
His Interior Department is locking up more coal and petroleum prospects, via “wild lands” and other designations, and dragging its feet on issuing leases and drilling permits.
Meanwhile, his Environmental Protection Agency is challenging shale gas drilling and fracking, and imposing draconian carbon dioxide (CO2) emission rules, now that Congress and voters have rejected cap-tax-and-trade.…
“… paying anything for resources that yield no or little effective capacity seems deranged as a means of promoting economic recovery for the most dedicatedly modern country on the planet.”
In energy debates (such as held recently by the Economist), arguments can be made against government-dependent renewables on grounds that coal and natural gas are in abundant supply and fossil fuels are being burned cleaner and cleaner.
These arguments, however, are mere body blows. Robert Bryce (see Part I) should have supplied the knockout punch by reminding all that any meaningful discussion of electricity production, which could soon embrace 50% of our overall energy use, must consider the entwined goals of reliability, security, and affordability, since reliable, secure, affordable electricity is the lynchpin of our modernity.…