From the outset, President Obama directed his powerful government agencies and congressional allies to help him “fundamentally transform” the United States. It was thought that the people would go along with these new directions.
Today, however, pervasive signs certainly portend a different and newer revolution. Indeed, the reactions of some previous cheerleaders reflect anger at the disdain the president often seems to show for their jobs and well-being. The energy and environment arena is only part of the total picture, but it’s a vitally important one.
Ozone. EPA is determined to implement stringent new ozone regulations – even though US ozone levels and overall air quality have improved steadily for decades, and the already tough 2008 ozone standards have not yet been fully implemented. This action would turn hundreds of cities and counties into nonattainment areas, impair manufacturing and transportation, cost up to $140 billion per year, and increase unemployment – for health benefits that are inflated or even fabricated.
A Small Business Entrepreneurship Council study found that EPA’s proposed rules would put numerous jobs at risk in a six-county Chicago area that is home to 65% of Illinois’ population, over 60% of its Latinos and 80% of its blacks, 73% of its GDP and 70% of its employment. With the unemployment rate already at 12% for Latinos and 25% for blacks, elected officials and business owners are alarmed.
The US Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities, National Association of Counties, National Association of Regional Councils – Democrats and Republicans representing 19,000 cities, 3,000 counties and 500 councils – have all expressed deep concern and asked EPA to retain the 2008 ozone standards. So have the National and Illinois Black Chambers of Commerce, US Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers.
They worry that the new rules would stifle economic growth and investment, and cause major job losses across the country. The rules set ozone standards lower than naturally occurring in many national parks. Thus far, EPA is ignoring the pleas, though Inside EPA says the agency may grant a one-year extension for some areas to comply with the 2008 standards, before slapping them with the newer diktats.
Coal-fueled electricity generation. The Obama EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) will force still more coal mines and power plants to close, imposing higher electricity costs on businesses and families, and causing lost jobs, lower incomes, higher poverty rates, reduced living standards, and diminished health and welfare. It will hit blacks and Hispanics especially hard and require families to pay $1,225 more per year for electricity, heating and air conditioning in 2030 than in 2012.
A dozen states have already sued EPA to prevent it from implementing the plan. They and other experts note that the CPP will bring no climate benefits, even if carbon dioxide actually is a major factor in global warming. In fact, even EPA admits it would prevent merely 0.03 degrees F of warming – because China, India, Germany and other countries are planning or building nearly 2,200 coal-fired power plants. That and increasing natural gas and gasoline use worldwide will raise atmospheric CO2 levels still higher.
Impacts on people. EPA’s rules are devastating coal-reliant communities. By 2020, they will cost 75,000 direct jobs in coal mines, power plants and railroads, a union study estimates; by 2035, job losses will reach 152,000. When secondary employment is included, the total impact will be some 485,000 lost jobs. This will also affect state tax revenues and funding for company pensions and retirement health care benefits, putting hundreds of thousands of current and future retirees in harm’s way.
EPA ignores the huge toll that job losses have on people’s health and welfare. Unemployed families find it harder to buy food, pay for doctor visits and medicine, give to churches and charities, save for college and retirement, and make mortgage, rent and car payments. They face less sleep, worse nutrition and more stress, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, spousal and child abuse, strokes and heart attacks.
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) says “a lot of people on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum are going to die,” because of the CPP. Liberal constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe (who once hired Barack Obama as a legal research assistant) says the EPA plan is unconstitutional. National Black Chamber of Commerce President Harry Alford calls it “a slap in the face to poor and minority families.”
Trade unions. Once strong supporters of President Obama, the United Mine Workers of America, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and other unions have come out in strong opposition to the Administration’s job-killing actions on the Keystone XL Pipeline and other initiatives.
Wind power. States are reducing or terminating Renewable Portfolio Standards and programs. Kansas, West Virginia and Indiana repealed their mandate, Ohio froze its standard at 2.5% renewable electricity, and North Carolina may freeze its RPS. Wildlife groups are finally recognizing and objecting to the serious habitat destruction and bird and bat slaughter that is a hallmark of wind and solar facilities.
Collusion. There is growing concern about the cozy ties and private meetings between EPA officials and eco-activists, their sue-and-settle deals, and EPA payments to advisory committees and environmental pressure groups that propagandize for agency actions.
The Secret Science Reform Act would compel EPA to develop regulations and scientific studies in the open, and allow truly independent experts to examine and challenge data, evidence and studies that supposedly support EPA dictates that could cost billions of dollars and millions of jobs. It is long overdue.
The Supremes. Even if it must ignore the clear intent or language of laws like Obamacare, the US Supreme Court has often been another reliable Obama rubberstamp. Yet it recently ruled in Michigan v. EPA that EPA violated the law by failing to consider monetary costs in deciding to regulate air pollution from power plants. The agency’s refusal to recognize the damage its regulations inflict on human health and welfare is a far more serious offense, and the agency must not be allowed to continue doing that.
Dwindling overseas support. Countries once enamored with “renewable” energy are now reexamining those policies, as they realize wind and solar energy kills four to six jobs for every “green” job created via unsustainable subsidies – and the electricity costs families and businesses up to 36-40 cents per kilowatt-hour (without counting taxpayer subsidies), compared to 8-9 cents per kWh in coal-reliant US states.
The African Development Bank says it will no longer tolerate policies that prevent construction of coal-fired power plants needed to bring electricity to 730 million Africans who do not yet enjoy the countless blessings that this miracle energy brings.
Far too many EPA and other environmental regulations are wrong for workers, families, states and the overall “quality of the human environment.” That’s why “there’s a battle outside raging.” Free, responsible citizens do not want or need to be “fundamentally transformed” by deceit, collusion and decree.