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The Final Word by Helen Roush

You may have read that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published its Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule earlier this month in an attempt to curtail "global warming" and accelerate the nation's shift away from coal.

The proposed rule mandates that power plants cut U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions 30 percent by 2030 from levels seen in 2005, with specific reduction requirements imposed on each state.

Regarding the 645-page plan, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said, "This is about protecting our health and our homes. This is about protecting local economies and jobs."

Others disagreed.

In a statement, Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran said, "The proposed EPA rule, crafted without the input of Congress, amounts to a national energy tax that will threaten economic growth, destroy jobs, and lead to higher energy costs."

According to an estimate from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the rule will cost more than $50 billion a year in reduced gross domestic product.

So here's the question, would this plan actually curtail "global warming?" Or would it be all pain and no gain?

In a recent editorial, Benjamin Zycher, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote, "By how much would the rule reduce future temperatures? If we apply the climate model developed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research -- used by both the United Nations and the EPA -- the new rule, even if implemented immediately, would reduce global temperatures in 2050 by less than a hundredth of a degree, and less than two-hundredths of a degree by 2100."

Zycher said he believes that the "combination of large costs and zero climate benefits explains why the president argued in a recent radio address that the new rule would prevent 'up to 100,000 asthma attacks and 2,100 heart attacks' in the first year, rising thereafter, presumably because of ancillary reductions in such other effluents as particulates, mercury and nitrogen oxides. (Carbon dioxide does not cause adverse health effects even at concentrations many times higher than those current or projected.)"

He continued, "But those pollutants already are regulated under other sections of the Clean Air Act, and the legal requirement is that those regulations 'protect the public health' with an 'adequate margin of safety,' without consideration of costs. Is it the position of the Obama administration that those regulations do not satisfy the requirements of the law? Or is the EPA double-counting the health benefits from other regulations already in force? Or is the EPA assuming further health benefits from reducing pollution levels that already are lower than those at which the epidemiological analyses suggest no adverse effects? No one knows, because the EPA analytic methodology to a substantial degree is obscure and the EPA's answers to analysts' questions often are unclear."

You've heard our take on coal and regulations over the years.

Helen Roush is Vice President, Communications Sciences at Paperitalo Publications. She can be reached by email at helen.roush@taii.com.


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