A Free-Market Energy Blog

U.S. EPA: Playing Fast and Loose with Health and Welfare

By -- May 27, 2012

An eye-opening case can be made that Obama Administration’s EPA is threatening our energy, economy, health, welfare, justice, and civil rights. A stiff charge, indeed, but one that needs to be examined in due depth this Memorial Day and throughout the year.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says we face grave threats to human health, welfare and justice. She’s absolutely right. However, the dangers are not due to factory or power plant emissions, or supposed effects of “dangerous manmade global warming.”

They are the result of policies and regulations that her EPA is imposing in the name of preventing climate change and other hypothetical and exaggerated environmental problems. It is those government actions that are the gravest threat to Americans’ health, welfare, and pursuit of happiness and justice.


By hyper-regulating carbon dioxide, soot, mercury, “cross-state air pollution” from sources hundreds of miles away, and other air and water emissions, EPA intends to force numerous coal-fired power plants to shut down years before their productive life is over; sharply reduce emissions from cars, factories, refineries and other facilities, regardless of the costs; and block the construction of new coal-fired power plants, because none will be able to slash their carbon dioxide emissions to half of what average coal-fired plants now emit, without employing expensive (and nonexistent) CO2 capture and storage technologies.

EPA has also issued 588 pages of rules for hydraulic fracturing for critically needed oil and natural gas, while the Obama Administration has vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline and made 95% of all publicly owned (but government controlled) lands and resources unavailable for leasing, exploration, drilling and mining.

These actions reflect President Obama’s campaign promise to “bankrupt any company that tries to build a new coal-fired power plant,” replace hydrocarbons with heavily subsidized solar, wind and biofuel energy, make energy prices “necessarily skyrocket,” advance crony-corporatism – and “fundamentally transform” America’s constitutional, legal, energy, economic and social structure.

Energy is the lifeblood of our nation’s economy, jobs, living standards and civil rights progress. Anything that affects energy availability, reliability and price affects every aspect of our lives. These federal diktats put bureaucrats and activists in charge of our entire economy – seriously impairing our health and welfare.

Mirage of Climate-Change Mitigation

Moreover, the anti-hydrocarbon global warming “solutions” the Obama Administration is imposing will bring no real world benefits – even assuming carbon dioxide actually drives climate change. That’s largely because China, India and other developing countries are increasing their use of coal for electricity generation, and thus their CO2 emissions – far beyond our ability to reduce U.S. emissions. These nations rightly refuse to sacrifice economic growth and poverty eradication on the altar of climate alarmism.

Even worse, the health, welfare and environmental justice benefits that EPA claims will result from its regulations are equally exaggerated and illusory. They exist only in the same dishonest computer-generated virtual reality that concocted its alleged climate change, health and environmental cataclysms, and in junk-science analyses that can best be described as borderline fraud.

Mandates All Over

Implementing EPA’s regulatory agenda will inflict severe economic dislocations and send shock waves through America’s factories, farmlands and families. Far from improving our health and welfare – they will make our economy, unemployment, living standards, health and welfare even worse.

EPA’s new automobile mileage standards alone will result in thousands of additional serious injuries and deaths every year, as cars are further downsized to meet its arbitrary 54.5 mpg requirements.

Obama’s anti-coal and anti-fracking rules will severely impact electricity generation, reliability and prices; factory, office and hospital operations and budgets; American industries’ competitiveness in global markets; employment, hiring and layoffs; and the well-being of families and entire communities.

This is especially true for areas that depend on mining and manufacturing – and the 26 states where coal-based power generation keeps electricity rates at half of what they are in states with the least coal use and toughest renewable energy mandates (6-9 cents versus 13-17 cents per kilowatt hour) – it will be all pain, for no gain.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a White House letter to House Speaker John Boehner inadvertently acknowledged that EPA alone is still working on new regulations that the agency itself calculates will impose $105 billion in additional regulatory burdens and compliance costs. Win or lose in November, the Administration will likely impose these and other postponed rules after the elections. We, our children and grandchildren will pay for them in countless ways.

Coal Plant Costs

Utilities will have to spend $130 billion to retrofit or replace older coal-fired units, says energy analyst Roger Bezdek – and another $30 billion a year for operations, maintenance and extra fuel for energy-intensive scrubbers and other equipment, to generate increasingly expensive electricity.

Duke Energy’s new $3.3 billion coal gasification and “carbon dioxide capture” power plant will increase rates for its Indiana customers by some 15% the next two years. Hospitals, factories, shopping malls and school districts will have to pay an extra $150,000 a year in operating expenses for each million dollars in annual electricity bills. That’s four or five entry-level jobs that won’t be created or preserved.

Nationwide, 319 coal-fueled power plants totaling 42,895 megawatts (13% of the nation’s coal fleet and enough for 40 million homes and small businesses) are already slated to close, the Sierra Club joyfully proclaimed. Illinois families and businesses could pay 20% more for electricity by 2014, the Chicago Tribune reports. Chicago public schools may have to find an extra $2.7 million a year to keep the lights and heat on and computers running.

Oil Refining Costs

Higher electricity prices will further strain refineries already struggling with soaring electricity costs and EPA’s sulfur and other regulations, restrictions on refinery upgrades and construction, constraints on moving crude oil to East Coast refineries, and other compliance costs – all for dubious environmental or health benefits. Three East Coast refineries recently closed, costing thousands of jobs and causing the Department of Energy to warn that pump prices are likely to soar even higher in Eastern states.

The refineries had supplied nearly half of the region’s gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, but had lost $1 billion over three years and spent $1.3 billion trying to comply with stricter EPA rules that Sunoco and ConocoPhillips feared will only “grow exponentially under the Obama administration,” energy analyst Larry Bell reports. Their concerns were buttressed by widely cited remarks by Dallas EPA regional administrator Al Armendariz, who said his (and presumably the agency’s) philosophy was to single out individual companies and punish them “as hard as you can,” to scare others into submission, much as the Romans used to find a few people in a town and “crucify them,” so that the town would be “really easy to manage for the next few years.”

The importance of refineries can hardly be overstated. Not only do they supply petrochemical feedstocks for plastics, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, and fuel for cars, trucks, ships and airplanes to transport people, food and products. They also create thousands of jobs and generate billions of dollars in payrolls and taxes. In Texas alone, the refinery and chemicals industry adds 73,000 employees, $6 billion in salaries and $105 billion annually to the economy.

As hydraulic fracturing produces vast new supplies of lower cost oil and gas for the industry, Texas, Pennsylvania and other states with refineries and petrochemical plants could see a manufacturing rebirth – unless EPA and environmentalist anti-fracking campaigns curtail supplies and drive prices up again. And despite industry and Obama Administration claims to the contrary, ethanol and other biofuels from corn, switchgrass, algae and pond scum cannot possibly make up the difference.

The importance of refineries can hardly be overstated. Not only do they supply petrochemical feedstocks for plastics, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, and fuel for cars, trucks, ships and airplanes to transport the people, food and products that are the foundation of our wealth, health, freedoms and progress. They also create thousands of jobs and generate billions of dollars in payrolls and taxes, making better lives possible for workers, families and communities. In Texas alone, the refinery and chemicals industry adds 73,000 employees, $6 billion in salaries and $105 billion annually to the economy.

The Jobs Problem

When we include discouraged workers who have given up looking for jobs, and people who have been forced to work fewer hours or at temporary jobs, our unemployment rate is a whopping 19 percent – and double that for black and Hispanic young people. America’s labor force participation rate is at a 30-year low. Our nation’s 2011 economic growth rate was a dismal 1.7 percent.

Well over a million U.S. workers age 55 and older have now been out of work for 27 weeks or more. Not only do prospects plummet for re-employment of older workers. The longer they are unemployed, the more they are disconnected from society, the further their living standards fall, the more their physical and emotional well-being deteriorates, and the more likely they are to die prematurely.

The cumulative effect is that families have even less money to buy food, pay the rent or mortgage, repair the car or house, save for college and retirement, take a vacation – and keep people comfortable (and alive) on frigid winter nights and sweltering summer afternoons. Workers lose jobs. Health and welfare, family relationships, future prospects and psychological well-being plummet. Because they spend the highest proportion of their incomes on energy, poor and minority families suffer disproportionately.

EPA Unleashed

The EPA and White House regulatory agenda, regulatory onslaught, and horse-blinder definition of health, welfare, and justice ignore these realities. It is also very likely that this intolerable situation will only get worse. In fact, the only welfare EPA’s rules will ensure is the expansion of our welfare rolls, unemployment lines and already record-setting food stamp programs.

Meanwhile, EPA gives billions of taxpayer dollars to activist groups, to advance their agendas and dominate our media and hearings with false or misleading information about the costs and benefits of its programs.

Worst of all, our Congress and courts have completely abdicated their obligations to provide oversight and control of this dictatorial agency and the Obama Administration. If this is the hope, change and future we can look “forward” to, our nation’s health, well-being and justice will be rolled backward.

It is time for pushback from the heartland of America, one consumer and one citizen and one voter at a time.


Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and Congress of Racial Equality, and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death.


  1. Kaivac1  

    I couldn’t agree more, most people don’t realize how these extreme regulations are going to cost them their own jobs or their neighbors. In my hometown of Hamilton, Ohio, we recently saw the shutting down of two paper mills who employed hundreds of workers. Both had their own steam and electric generation facilities, one coal fired the other natural gas fired. New EPA air emission regulations were too expensive to upgrade their power generation boilers, making them unprofitable to continue operating. What a shame. These papermills employed, scientist, engineers, accountants, welders, computer specialists, electricians, lab workers, skilled craftsman in many fields. These mills have been in operation for multiple generations, and their smokestacks have been clean and clear for as long as I can remember. Now we have two abandoned papermills with weeds growing up around them, monuments to regulators gone wild. We must stop this gangster EPA that is attacking and destroying our future.


  2. Paul Driessen  

    Thank you very much for this real-life example.

    Is it safe to assume that the vast majority of the paper mill employees are now unemployed, with few prospects for new work? Or were there ample alternative employment options in the Hamilton area? How has the area coped with the loss of this major employer?

    Have any of the former mill workers spoken out — perhaps to explain their situations or criticize the EPA decision; perhaps to describe how their personal, family and community health and welfare have taken a turn for the worse; or perhaps to say how much better their health, welfare, environmental justice and civil rights are now that EPA’s inflexible rules have closed the mill and ensured that its shuttered power plants are no longer emitting pollutants and carbon dioxide into the local air?

    If you, other readers or former paper mill employees and managers might care to do so — I would appreciate their sharing their stories and providing anecdotes, quotations, economic facts and figures, and examples of how their personal,family and community health and welfare have changed since the mill closed. I may well use them in future articles and/or in a larger report that I am preparing about this heavy-handed EPA.

    (I grew up in paper mill country (Fox River Valley, Wisconsin), worked summer jobs in our local mill while going to college, and still see the mill chugging away from the kitchen window of my dad’s (and my boyhood) home whenever I’m back for visits. The river is far cleaner, we now have a dozen nesting pairs of eagles along the river by the mill (there were none when I was growing up), the air is much cleaner (though it still smells of the sulfur process they use, during certain phases of the paper making process), and it still generates jobs and economic welfare for the city. Those were valuable ,worthwhile environmental improvements, whereas Ms. Jackson’s EPA is trying to ensure zero pollution, and zero CO2, regardless of the cost to our nation’s health, jobs, prosperity and opportunity. But I’m sure my local mill is now in EPA’s crosshairs, because it too generates much of its own electricity from power plants that are not 100% “clean” in the eyes of this benevolent agency.)


  3. Kermit  

    East Coast refinery closures are a combination of things. 1st is their configuration to only process light sweet crude oil which comes from the Middle East, the North Sea, or West Africa. They could well utilize much of the crude being produced from shale plays such as Bakken or Eagle Ford, but the transportation (at least economically viable) does not exist.

    Undoubtedly the local labor market plays a role as well. While a great many of the refineries along the Gulf Coast are union, the maintenance contractors are not. This speaks more to efficiency and productivity of the maintenance workforce than it does to wages.


  4. Kermit  

    Paper Mills have been shuttered much as a result of lower cost and more modern mills in the Far East and Siberia. There was a lot of demand for newsprint and linerboard from the China before 10 years ago. International Paper ended up shuttering mills all across the South from Texas to the Atlantic Coast during the last decade. They were all dismantled/demolished over the last 10 years.


  5. Paul Driessen: U.S. EPA: Playing Fast and Loose with Health and Welfare | JunkScience.com  

    […] MasterResource Share this:PrintEmailMoreStumbleUponTwitterFacebookDiggRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in Eco-terrorism, Economics, EPA, Health and tagged greenie obstructionists, hatred of humans, insane greens, irrational fears, misanthropy, rogue agency. Bookmark the permalink. ← Alex Epstein: The Essential ‘Oil, Gas & Government’ (Kudos to a treatise in the age of the blog) […]


  6. oeman50  

    The Sierra Club has already proclaimed victory in their “Beyond Coal” campaign due the onslaught of new EPA regulations and the impact on any new coal plants. They have already begun their “Beyond Gas” program designed to prohibit fracking and new gas fired power plants. Gas plants emit only half of the CO2 that coal plant do, but they will not reach the 80% reduction in CO2 by 2050 that was the target of now failed legislation. What an excellent way to kill off civilization!


  7. T. Caine  


    If we are talking about alarmism, this article seems swing to a similar degree in the opposite direction. Coal power production is an antiquated industry that is in its natural course of decline. The median age of our nation’s coal plants is +/- 1966 with over 30% being built before 1960. So yes, it seems to make sense that there are hundred of plants (the dirtiest that are probably operating somewhere in the neighborhood of 30% efficiency) that need to be closed.

    The fact of the matter is that low natural gas prices are pushing coal out of the market more than the EPA’s regulatory efforts. I believe that only one new coal plant has been opened during Obama’s presidency (one playing at the lost cause of carbon sequestration) and that is long before the EPA’s latest rules imposed on coal plant operation.

    Coal companies are not the ones to go consoling for job depletion. Coal industry employment has been dropping for decades. The coal industry’s switch to mountaintop removal is great for profits, but not great for coal miners. I think the stats indicate that mountain removal needs about 1/3 of the miners as traditional mining along with its long polluting list of accolades. Coal companies aren’t out to save American jobs, they’re out to make a profit in a shrinking marketplace.

    Regardless of one’s stance on climate change, do we really want to be basing anything having to do with health, justice and welfare on what China is choosing to do? They’re not really a cultural economy worth emulating that resonates with American values. Not to mention they’re helping to buy up the American coal that we are no longer burning anyway.

    While natural gas will continue to be an important component in our nation’s future, coal is going the way of the buggy whip and we will be a healthier nation because of its absence.



  8. Eric Simpson  

    Poignant, painful stuff. We’ve got to get the word out to the little people before this election. It would be great if shorter segments or abridgements could be tailored for various uses. Also a video… would be awesome, if possible. From a longer video (multiple minutes), viewers may get ideas for a short TV ad… that could influence the election.
    As far as an ad idea, imagine the 1988 GHWBush “Boston Harbor” ads against Dukakis. Same gloominess, same tone I think. Just plug in key points, with stark visuals.


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