The Corner

Study: EPA Low-Balled Costs of Carbon Regs

The Environmental Protection Agency may have significantly low-balled its cost estimates for its proposed Clean Power Plan rules, a new study by National Economic Research Associates suggests.

The rules, proposed in June, seek a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2030, establishing state-specific targets. In practice, the Clean Power Plan would penalize traditional energy consumption while artificially generating demand for costlier green energy generation.

The new NERA study suggests staggering economic costs. Households in all but seven states would see a double-digit price hike on their electricity bills, and the cost of natural gas could spike by as much as 29 percent, the study says.

Assuming that no legal or practical challenges prevent states from imposing the EPA’s renewable-energy or energy-efficiency protocols—an unlikely scenario—the annual compliance cost will be $41 billion, NERA estimates. Factoring in these real-world potential obstacles, the cost rises to a mind-blowing $73 billion.

The latter NERA estimate is at least seven times what the EPA estimated when it looked at annual compliance costs for the Clean Power Plan rules.

The EPA’s supporters will doubtless mention that the NERA study was prepared on behalf of several traditional-energy trade groups. But the EPA’s numbers also look biased, and even the Government Accountability Office has recently questioned the objectivity and accuracy of the agency’s cost-benefit assessments.

This summer, the GAO called out the EPA’s slanted math, concluding that “without improvements in its estimates, EPA’s [regulatory-impact analyses] may be limited in their usefulness for helping decision makers and the public understand these important affects.”  

For instance, the GAO then noted that as the EPA tried to tally the job costs of draft regs for industrial boilers, commercial incinerators, and waste-water discharges, it used labor-market research that was old enough to buy a drink, and that looked at only four industrial sectors.

Nevertheless, even by the EPA’s own low-balled estimates, compliance with the Clean Power Plan rules would be equivalent to the total cost of all Clean Air Act rules promulgated by 2010.

The huge economic costs of the Clean Power Plan become even more startling in contrast with the tiny gains predicted by the EPA.  Though the overall price tag for compliance could rise as high as $479 billion, according to NERA’s estimates, the regulations would cut global temperatures by less than two-hundredths of a degree Fahrenheit.

— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for National Review as a Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow for the Franklin Center. She is also a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.

 

Jillian Kay Melchior — Jillian Kay Melchior writes for National Review as a Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow for the Franklin Center. She is also a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More
U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More