WSJ: Lisa Jackson’s Power Play

“The rest of the purported benefits—to be precise, 99.99%—come by double-counting pollution reductions like soot that the EPA regulates through separate programs and therefore most will happen anyway. Using such “co-benefits” is an abuse of the cost-benefit process and shows that Cass Sunstein’s team at the White House regulatory office—many of whom opposed the rule—got steamrolled.”

The Wall Street Journal editorializes,

At an unusual gala ceremony on the release of a major new Environmental Protection Agency rule yesterday, chief Lisa Jackson called it “historic” and “a great victory.” And she’s right: The rule may be the most expensive the agency has ever issued, and it represents the triumph of the Obama Administration’s green agenda over economic growth and job creation. Congratulations.

The so-called utility rule requires power plants to install “maximum achievable control technology” to reduce mercury emissions and other trace gases. But the true goal of the rule’s 1,117 pages is to harm coal-fired power plants and force large parts of the fleet—the U.S. power system workhorse—to shut down in the name of climate change. The EPA figures the rule will cost $9.6 billion, which is a gross, deliberate underestimate.

In return Ms. Jackson says the public will get billions of dollars of health benefits like less asthma if not a cure for cancer. Those credulous enough to believe her should understand that the total benefits of mercury reduction amount to all of $6 million. That’s total present value, not benefits per year—oh, and that’s an -illion with an “m,” which is not normally how things work out in President Obama’s Washington.

The rest of the purported benefits—to be precise, 99.99%—come by double-counting pollution reductions like soot that the EPA regulates through separate programs and therefore most will happen anyway. Using such “co-benefits” is an abuse of the cost-benefit process and shows that Cass Sunstein’s team at the White House regulatory office—many of whom opposed the rule—got steamrolled.

As baseload coal power is retired or idled, the reliability of the electrical grid will be compromised, as every neutral analyst expects. Some utilities like Calpine Corp. and PSEG have claimed in these pages that the reliability concerns are overblown, but the Alfred E. Newman crowd has a vested interest in profiting from the higher wholesale electricity clearing prices that the EPA wants to cause.

Meanwhile, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is charged with protecting reliability, abnegated its statutory responsibilities as the rule was being written.

One FERC economist wrote in a March email that “I don’t think there is any value in continuing to engage EPA on the issues. EPA has indicated that these are their assumptions and have made it clear that are not changed [sic] anything on reliability . . . [EPA] does not directly answer anything associated with local reliability.” The EPA repeatedly told Congress that it had “very frequent substantive contact and consultation with FERC.”

The EPA also took the extraordinary step of issuing a pre-emptive “enforcement memorandum,” which is typically issued only after the EPA determines its rules are being broken. The memo tells utilities that they must admit to violating clean air laws if they can’t retrofit their plants within the EPA’s timeframe at any cost or if shutting down a plant will lead to regional blackouts. Such legal admissions force companies into a de facto EPA receivership and expose them to lawsuits and other liabilities.

The economic harm here is vast, and the utility rule saga—from the EPA’s reckless endangerment to the White House’s failure to temper Ms. Jackson—has been a disgrace.

We don’t think there’s even $6 million worth of benefits in the rule.

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11 responses to “WSJ: Lisa Jackson’s Power Play

  1. Once Jackson breaks the egg it is very hard to unbreak it. Their aim is to see how many broken eggs they can leave in 4 years. If they get another 4, we will be well back in the line as a third world country.

    How does the USEPA plan to control Chinese and Indian coal emissions?

    • Robert of Ottawa

      Lisa Jackson is a socialist. In case you have forgotten, socialists hate America. SHe intends to break America….there is no other explanation.

      The EPA should be dismantled, everyone fired, and start from a clean slate.

  2. When all businesses close down due to irregular power being produced and exorbitant electric rates due to low availability (rates rise in the natural law of supply and demand), people have no heat in winter, and no AC in the summer, will they still blame GWB? No gas at the filling stations because America has been shut down as far as drilling for oil is concerned (subsidies for foreign countries such as Brazil are OK, not US). When fully 50% of America is unemployed and have no hope of being employed and the communist rule of Obama is deemed to be too important to continue and therefore suspend elections indefinitely, will it still be Bush’s fault or global warming or any other bs slogan the left pushes? We can thank those who were too selfish earning their own money, providing for their own families, those looking out for their best interests for the moment, and standing idly by while the socialist/Communist/Islamist/Progressive/atheist/LGBT factions all joined together to destroy the US. Welcome to the new Ice Age.

  3. And Congress? Why not defund the EPA? The Founders intended that Congress would be the foremost powerful branch of Government. It is time to roll back the Imperial Presidencies of recent times.

    • Given the recent payroll tax holiday fiasco, I seriously doubt our congress critters could organize and execute anything positive, certainly not reigning in the EPA. Besides, 2012 is an election year and they cannot withstand the heat from the enviros if they are not green enough.

  4. The EPA is here to take minimal amouts of mercury out of the atmosphere and force it into your house where it is much more dangerous.

  5. What should be done is a special prosecutor and some jail time. There is no doubt in my mind that these people are committing crimes. If you want to stop this kind of thing then Blagovitch them.

  6. Don’t forget the obvious national security issue. As plants are taken offline and the redundancy of the power grid is reduced while power still flows to all the customers, a single strike on the switching stations can easily cause blackouts lasting many weeks or months.

  7. Our government was never intended to be run by an unelected official who could make rules that are more binding than laws passed by congress. Rules that cannot be challenged in court.
    This is certainly unconstitutional if anything ever was.

  8. Lisa Jackson’s primary concern is “environmental justice,” according to the EPA website. She’s bringing programs into schools all over the country to reinforce this environmental vicitmization of “Underserved populations.” She was JON CORZINE’S chief of staff and also head of the NJ Environmental agency. So you know where she’s coming from and where she thinks she is taking us.

  9. How interesting they always cite asthma (children in particular) as one of the illnesses we can expect to see great improvement in. Yet where is the link? We have been seeing an Increase in asthma rates even as air quality has been improving over the last few decades. And what part of the US has the highest asthma rates? That would be Puerto Rico where only 15% of what little electricity they generate is from coal.

    What is really going on here is enviro groups like Sierra club and others don,t like coal mining, oil drilling or any other form of mineral extraction. Asthma sufferers and others with similar problems are being used as tools to enact the enviro agenda with promises of life improvements that will never materialize.

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