Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Saving dollars and improving our health

In his December newsletter, Sen. Lamar Alexander notes that he helped defeat a proposal dealing with air-pollution regulation by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).
The latter had sought to overturn the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, issued in July by the Environmental Protection Agency in accordance with the Clean Air Act’s “good neighbor” provision.
The rule requires many states to reduce power plant emissions that cross state lines, contributing to ozone and fine-particle pollution in other states.
In a floor speech on “keeping other states’ dirty air out of Tennessee,” Alexander cited a number of clean-air benefits. They especially include jobs, he stated, as exemplified by Nissan’s ability to open an auto-paint factory in not-polluted Tennessee.
In a report this September on the effect of several EPA rules under the Obama administration, the Economic Policy Institute cited the same positive outcomes while quantifying the costs and economic benefits.
It found that “the dollar value of the benefits of the major rules finalized or proposed so far during the Obama administration exceeds the rules’ cost by an exceptionally wide margin. Health benefits in terms of lives saved and illnesses avoided will be enormous.”
Examples are two rules jointly developed by EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to improve vehicles’ environmental performance. New standards will raise fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas and other pollutant emissions from these vehicles, the dollar benefits outweighing costs approximately four to one. Savings of 1.8 billion barrels of oil and of 960 million metric tons of greenhouse gases will result, while owners pay less at the pump. The economic benefits from the Cross-State Air Pollution rule which Alexander helped to uphold, exceed $100 billion a year.
Standards for mercury and other toxic air emissions from coal-and oil-fired power plants, which “industry can afford and the nation needs” as the New York Times declared, had been announced in March. Its implementation postponed as the utilities, even following failed regulation attempts under both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations sought yet another delay, are to be announced before year’s end.
Mercury rains down into water such that more than one-third of river miles across the U.S. and 42 percent of total area of lakes are contaminated, spawning 4,568 fish advisories last year.
The new standards will keep 91 percent of the mercury from coal-fired power plants from being released into their air. In “monetized value,” the Economic Policy Institude finds, its benefits dramatically exceed its cost, by a ratio of about 15 to 1.
We benefit dollar-wise and can literally breathe easier as a result of “the Obama EPA rules” and our senator’s announced, recent supportive action.