Obama EPA Rules Will Harm Poor, Vulnerable the Most

Oct 10, 2014 by AFP

By Justin Sykes

In an effort to increase support for his controversial proposed carbon regulations, President Obama and the EPA are touting the benefits the regulations will have for minority communities and America’s most vulnerable. However, one recent analysis suggests that quite the opposite is true – and that these draconian new regulations will harm minority and low income communities the most.

While President Obama has continuously cited “income inequality” in America as a primary concern of his Administration, he conveniently avoids discussing the “energy insecurity” that will directly result from his proposed carbon regulations. A recent report by the Pacific Research Institute (PRI) examined the proposed carbon regulations and the energy insecurity that will result in coal heavy states such as Ohio.

For example, the PRI’s report found that in Ohio, which gets about 70 percent of its electricity from coal, the proposed carbon regulations will have an overwhelmingly disparate impact on African-American households.

Specifically, the report indicated the average Ohioan family will see its energy spending increase from 2.9 percent to almost 4 percent of their yearly income due to the EPA’s proposed rules. While such an increase will be felt by many Ohio families already struggling to pay their energy costs, the impact on the average African-American family in Ohio will be even worse.

In sharp contrast to the average Ohio increases, the “electricity spending for an African-American household in Ohio will rise from 4.5 percent of their income to 5.8 percent…due to the EPA’s plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions.” For the average African-American household, this amounts to an annual increase of $408 in energy costs – costs that some families simply can’t bear and shouldn’t be forced to.

Furthermore, “households in lower-income African-American neighborhoods would be hardest hit with the cost of electricity equaling 26 percent of household income, or even higher,” reads the PRI study. Such high increases mean some families may be choosing between heating their homes this winter and putting food on the table.

These impacts are not confined to Ohio though, as indicated by a recent report from Senators Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Tim Scott (S.C).  In fact, that report found that the impacts of President Obama’s proposed carbon regulations will be widespread, and that a 10 percent increase in energy costs could push 840,000 people into poverty. That is particularly troubling given that almost 90 percent of states are projected to see wholesale electricity cost increases of 10 percent or greater.

It’s unclear whether the President and the EPA are concerned with the issue of energy insecurity facing African-American families that will result if the proposed regulations go forward. Nor is it clear how the administration plans to deal with the nearly 1 million people that could be cast into poverty as a result of energy cost increases.

Yet one thing is clear – if the President and EPA have their way, and the proposed carbon regulations move forward unabated, the impact on African-Americans and low-income Americans in the U.S. may prove to be even more disastrous than they would be for the American public at large.