Letter of Support: Senator Inhofe's CRA Disapproval of EPA's Utility MACT Regulations

February 24, 2012 J

Dear Senator Inhofe,

On behalf of more than 1.9 million Americans for Prosperity activists in all 50 states, I write in strong support of your recently introduced S.J.Res. 37. Your resolution would stop the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from imposing what could be the most costly federal regulations in history, the onerous “Utility MACT” rules.

Under the 1996 Congressional Review Act, Congress has the authority to disapprove of overly-burdensome regulations and, as your resolution does, order that “such rule shall have no force or effect.” There is no more appropriate time to exercise this power than now, as this administration continues to pile costly rule after costly rule onto our still-struggling economy.

These Utility MACT rules are an ideal target for CRA disapproval. The rules have the stated purpose of reducing mercury emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants, but there is no credible evidence that this is even a real public health problem. The Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and the authors of the Seychelles Child Development Study all would take issue with the EPA’s absurdly ambitious standard, arguing that we’ve already achieved safe mercury levels. And even if they are all wrong, Dr. Willie Soon and Paul Driessen explained that U.S. power plants are not even a significant source of mercury emissions compared to other sources:

How do America’s coal-burning power plants fit into the picture? They emit an estimated 41-48 tons of mercury per year. But U.S. forest fires emit at least 44 tons per year; cremation of human remains discharges 26 tons; Chinese power plants eject 400 tons; and volcanoes, subsea vents, geysers and other sources spew out 9,000-10,000 additional tons per year. All these emissions enter the global atmospheric system and become part of the U.S. air mass. Since our power plants account for less than 0.5% of all the mercury in the air we breathe, eliminating every milligram of it will do nothing about the other 99.5% in our atmosphere.

Former OIRA administrator Susan Dudley also shows that the EPA is exaggerating the rule’s supposed benefits through accounting tricks, with 99.996 percent of the total benefits coming from the “co-benefits” of reducing fine particulate matter to a level well below what the EPA has already established as safe in other onerous emissions rules. Given this evidence, many have argued that, in fact, this is just another backdoor way for the EPA to close down power plants and impose climate change regulations that Congress and voters have already decisively rejected.

Not only are the benefits highly suspect, but this rule will impose significant costs on the American economy. The EPA itself estimates annual compliance costs of $11 billion, but independent estimates range much higher. NERA Economic Consulting predicts that the rule will cost the electricity-generation industry $17.8 billion per year, shutting down coal plants and driving up electricity prices by 12 percent nationwide and as much as 24 percent in certain regions. This will ultimately cost the American economy more than 1.4 million jobs. Shutting down coal plants and causing electricity prices to rise even higher is simply the wrong thing to do when American families are already suffering from high energy prices.

With all of this in mind, it should be no surprise that experts like Dr. Soon conclude “[t]he EPA proposal is largely an extreme form of political advocacy…the emissions cuts it proposes for Electric Generating Units (EGUs) will be purely ‘all pain and no gain,’ more harm than good in public health.” These rules are too costly and may not even be feasible to implement.

The EPA must go back to the drawing board and come up with a more viable solution, and your resolution would send them a clear signal to do exactly that. Americans for Prosperity is proud to support S.J.Res. 37. I urge your colleagues to support passage of this important resolution, and I look forward to working with you in the future.

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