Posts Tagged: EPA’s

Oct 10

EPA’s Ethanol Decision Could Do More Harm Than Good

Two months ago, I warned you about President Barack Obama’s EPA blending politics and science.

ethanol corn

Now, according to an EPA news release issued Wednesday, the “blending” process appears to be complete:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today waived a limitation on selling fuel that is more than 10 percent ethanol for model year 2007 and newer cars and light trucks. The waiver applies to fuel that contains up to 15 percent ethanol – known as E15 – and only to model year 2007 and newer cars and light trucks. This represents the first of a number of actions that are needed from federal, state and industry towards commercialization of E15 gasoline blends. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson made the decision after a review of the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) extensive testing and other available data on E15’s impact on engine durability and emissions.

What does that mean for American consumers accustomed to gasoline that already contains up to 10 percent ethanol? Plenty! In fact, the decision could do more harm than good, according to Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute.

In August, Gerard said this decision — made even before key safety and effectiveness studies have been completed — “could threaten vehicle performance and safety, void manufacturers’ warranties, confuse consumers – and create a public backlash against renewable fuels.”

“Consumers need to be assured that the gasoline they purchase will not damage vehicles, void warranties or erode air quality gains,” Gerard added. “And we as an industry want to continue producing safe and reliable fuels for consumers now and into the future.”

To learn even more about the ethanol issue, watch this video.

Big Government

Sep 10

The EPA’s Lisa Jackson and Her Wild ‘Wealth Creation’ Claims

In a column she posted at the Huffington Post, USEPA Administrator Lisa Jackson continued in her attempts to rebrand the Agency into something it never has been nor was intended to be: a creator of wealth. Jackson surely recognizes that the tired, old “sky is falling” message that has traditionally driven environmental agendas has less traction than ever given the economic realities of 2010. So, while she isn’t ready to abandon the fear-mongering tactics that are ingrained in the green movement, Jackson is working hard to create a parallel reality, one in which there is an absolutely phenomenal return on investment whenever the government imposes a new round of environmental regulations.

In a draw-dropping example of the old saw that “correlation does not equate to causation” the administrator told America that the Clean Air Act has created a venerable cornucopia of riches:

“…as air pollution has dropped over the last 40 years, our national GDP has risen by 207 percent. 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 have received more than $ 40 of benefits in return, making the Clean Air Act one of the most cost-effective things the American people have done for themselves in the last half century.”

How does one calculate a whopping 4,000% return on Clean Air Act investments? If you’re the EPA, you point to increased productivity that you happily attribute to less lost time due to illness in the workplace, as well as avoided medical costs. Not that you actually have to prove that any of those results actually occur. All you need is a few pointy-headed academics with calculators who can punch the right numbers, attach a certain value to sick days and medical condition and – voila – you too can create trillions in phantom economic benefits.


That’s the method that has been used to justify just about every major piece of Clean Air regulation and Jackson’s EPA has shifted this technique into hyper-drive. If the numbers that she uses to justify the sweeping, radical environmental initiatives her Agency is pushing are to be believed, nobody will ever miss work again and the health care industry will have to close its doors for a lack of business. And yes, I’m exaggerating, but not by much.

The America that the rest of us have lived in over the last forty years since the first Clean Air Act was passed is quite a bit different than Jackson’s fantasyland. While the GDP has risen by 207 per cent in that time, it did so in spite of, not because of, the excesses of the Clean Air Act. That is not to say that clean air legislation was not needed in 1970, but the bureaucrats charged with achieving clean air goals long ago crossed the line from protecting human health and the environment into the land of protecting their jobs and radical environmentalist agendas.


Jackson acknowledges all of that progress and the massive improvements in air quality that have been made, but she concludes that it’s not nearly enough and, besides, just look at all the money we’ll make if we put the screws to industry one more time.

Did American productivity increase over two decades of the Clean Air Act? It did, but that was clearly because of new manufacturing techniques and the increased use of robotics. Productivity sure didn’t increase because workers put in more time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American worker put in 37.1 hours of work per week in 1970. By 2009, that number had dropped to 33.9 hours per week.

How about health care savings then? It’s ludicrous that anyone, much less a high-ranking government official like Jackson, could even try to claim that anything has reduced heath care costs, but let’s compare those numbers too. In 1970, per capita health care expenditures ran at about 7 per cent of GDP. Today, that number has risen to 17 per cent.

Jackson employs the kind of statistical sleight of hand that is the highlight of the green magic show throughout her post. She claims, for example, that Clean Air Act regulations have avoided “843,000 asthma attacks.” Yet, according to the Center for Disease Control, the number of Americans suffering from asthma has increased from 6.7 million in 1980 to over 20 million today. In this case, Jackson doesn’t even have correlation, much less causation.


But then the administrator’s goal here is to further the green jobs myth, not to accurately describe either the state of the environment or the economic effect of environmental regulations. The fact is that many sectors of the economy, like the iron and steel industry, the printing industries and many parts of the chemical production sector, suffered greatly as a direct result of the Clean Air Act and other regulations that started out well-intentioned but soon grew into counter-productive job killers.

The fact is that the bureaucratic monster that the EPA has become moves so slowly, so cautiously and distrusts industry so much that it stifles the kind of innovation and creativity that the President claims he longs to embrace. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost because of regulatory excesses in the environmental arena, whether Lisa Jackson is smart enough to realize it or honest enough to admit it. And, with crippling regulation on the way unlike anything America has seen before thanks to her, this administrator is bound and determined to rip the very heart of our beleaguered and essential industrial sector.

Big Journalism

Sep 10

EPA’s Power Grab Endangers the Economy

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Nowhere in the Clean Air Act does the term “greenhouse gas” (GHG) appear, yet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is invoking the statute to unleash economy-busting emissions strictures.

The agency’s latest power grab is not going unchallenged, however. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce href="">has filed a federal lawsuit to force the EPA to reconsider the regulatory scheme that will otherwise encumber the energy and manufacturing sectors as well as millions of offices, apartment buildings, shopping malls, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, schools, houses of worship, theaters, and sports arenas. id="more-42790">

The Chamber’s suit is procedural in scope: It seeks to compel the EPA to reconsider its “finding” that GHG emissions, as the supposed cause of global warming, endangers public health and welfare. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in July denied petitions for reconsideration filed by the Chamber, the states of Virginia and Texas, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Peabody Energy Corporation, and others.

Jackson’s refusal to reconsider the “endangerment finding” was all the more objectionable for having followed closely a series of revelations exposing deception and fraud in the research widely cited as proof of anthropogenic climate change.

Moreover, the regulations are unsupported by either clinical studies or toxicological data normally relied upon by the agency to discern an actual threat to human health and the environment. In the case of greenhouse gases, however, the EPA has acted solely on hypothetical effects that remain hotly contested.

It was never the intention of Congress to regulate carbon dioxide or other so-called greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, and previous Administrations have declined to do so. Evidently, this Administration is more interested in scoring points with the green lobby than in alleviating unemployment and jumpstarting the moribund economy.

The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

Sep 10

EPA’s New Rating System Encourages Poor Decisions

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The EPA recently proposed a new grading requirement for new car stickers. The A–D grading system would rank cars according to their fuel efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions to help consumers make better choices. In the new grading scheme, the Ford Focus gets a B and the Toyota Prius gets an A–. What does this tell consumers? As it turns out, not much.

Already on the new car sticker are two more useful bits of information. The first is the EPA’s estimate of annual fuel cost. For the Focus it is $ 1,435 per year, and for the Prius it is $ 804 per year. The second bit of information is the price of the car. Though critical to virtually every consumer, the EPA gives no weight at all to the purchase cost in its grading system. If it did, the grades would be different. id="more-42206">

According to href=""> the expected price, net of discounts, in Washington, D.C., is $ 14,731 for a Focus SE and $ 22,451 for the base model Prius. Financing these cars for five years at 5 percent gives a monthly payment of $ 278 for the Focus and $ 424 for the Prius. The difference in cost works out to about $ 1,750 more per year for the Prius. Since the Prius saves only $ 631 in gasoline per year, the Prius costs the consumer $ 1,121 more per year.

But, some would complain, this does not take into account the external cost of the carbon dioxide emissions as they warm the world. Without getting into the global warming debate, we note that those who are worried about carbon dioxide emissions and who make estimates of the costs get values of between about $ 5 and $ 30 per ton. Since the EPA estimates that driving a Focus emits 2.9 tons per year more than driving a Prius, the additional carbon dioxide has a cost of $ 14.50 to $ 90.00 per year. Even with this bit of environmental bookkeeping, the Prius is still over a $ 1,000 per year more costly.

According to the EPA, its new scheme is necessary because the information on fuel use is too difficult for consumers to understand. That seems a very dubious proposition. But suppose the EPA has a target audience too dimwitted to determine whether or not $ 1,435 is more than $ 804. It is unlikely this group would be better able to compare prices or to calculate differences in monthly payments. If the EPA is trying to help these consumers, the grading system flunks spectacularly, as it can give a higher grade to worse deal.

If, on the other hand, the EPA grading scheme is intended to funnel consumers to the preferred choices of environmental wonks, it makes perfect sense.

The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

Sep 10

Government Fail: EPA’s Green Letter Grades for Vehicles

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Both the Bush and Obama Administrations implemented tougher fuel efficiency standards for vehicles with the message that more stringent regulations will reduce carbon dioxide and save consumers money because they’ll be purchasing less gas. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) href="">recently announced fleet-wide requirements of 34.1 miles per gallon in 2016 for all automakers in the U.S.

Now, are the agencies trying to guilt you into buying a hybrid? The Wall Street Journal href="">reports:

The government proposed labeling each new passenger vehicle with a letter grade from A to D based on its fuel efficiency and emissions, part of a broader effort by the Obama administration to promote electric cars and other advanced-technology vehicles.

Currently, the labels must show how many miles per gallon a car gets and its estimated annual fuel cost. Under the proposed changes, a new label design would carry a large letter grade assigned by regulators.


Under the system, the only cars that would receive an A-plus, A or A-minus would be electrics and plug-in hybrids, the government said. Many compact and midsize vehicles would get Bs, while bigger and more powerful models such as sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks would get Cs or C-minuses because they burn more petroleum and pump out more carbon dioxide, officials said.

The proposal is unnecessary and degrading to consumers who already have the information they need to purchase the vehicles they desire. Consumers have different preferences and different needs and take a number of variables into account when buying a car. Size, safety, miles-per-gallon, costs of repairs, location, and price (among others) all play important roles, and each carries a different weight per individual. Should the EPA and NHTSA arbitrarily assign grades to all these factors? There’s also a conflict-of-interest issue that arises: Should these regulatory agencies be picking winners and losers among the models and manufacturers they regulate?

So why the obnoxious letter grade? Just as no child wants to come home with a report card full of C’s, consumers could feel guilty rolling out of a dealership with a C-minus SUV. Dave McCurdy, president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, href="">said, “The proposed letter grade falls short because it is imbued with school-yard memories of passing and failing.”

Unfortunately for automakers, more stringent fuel efficiency regulations do not come with guaranteed consumer demand for those vehicles. Gloria Bergquist, also from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, href="">said, “We have a hill to climb, and it’s steep, so we will need consumers to buy our fuel-efficient technologies in large numbers to meet this new national standard.”

Bob Lutz, vice chairman of GM, echoed Berguist’s remarks, href="">saying, “We’ll have to force a lot of hybrids, which people may or may not pay for.” Consumers have a wide variety of choices when it comes to purchasing a vehicle; clearly, a number of smaller, fuel-efficient cars exist on the market today—including a growing number of hybrid vehicles. Yet Jake Fisher, senior automotive engineer at Consumer Reports, href="">asserted, “Performance hybrids and mild hybrids haven’t gained any traction in the market.” The EPA and NHTSA’s lettering system is an attempt to persuade reluctant consumers into buying those vehicles.

Another problem is that advertising the cost savings from increased fuel efficiency relies only on government numbers. While the Obama Administration acknowledges higher sticker prices for vehicles, they may underestimate those increases. Last year, President href="">Obama said consumers would be better off paying $ 1,300 more for a new car because they will save $ 2,800 through better gas mileage. However, some estimates place the price hikes much higher. Sandra Stojkovski of See More Systems, href="">which specializes in systems engineering, “projects the sticker of a compact car will go up $ 1,800 to $ 2,000. The price of a mid-sized car is likely to increase $ 4,500 to $ 6,000, she says. Outfitting a full-sized pickup with a diesel, rather than a gasoline-powered V-8, and other new equipment could cost $ 9,000.” One should also consider the energy electricity used and output of emissions when charging an electric vehicle.

Consumers already have access to the miles-per-gallon numbers, which is much less arbitrary than any grading system. They can do without the Hester Prynne–style marking.

The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.