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Senators Deceive Voters with EPA Challenge

Jeff Siegel | Wednesday May 13th, 2009 | 3 Comments

barasso.jpgWell, it looks like the deniers are back at it.
On Tuesday, Senate Republicans released a nine-page memo which included the opinions of a number of federal agencies regarding the regulation of greenhouse gases.
The document stated that factories, small businesses and institutions would be subject to unreasonable costs if the EPA proceeds with the regulation of greenhouse gases. This, my friends, is what the deniers do when their data is bogus, and their agendas are based more on political maneuvering than doing what’s right for the nation. They re-word, and repackage the same old argument in an effort to continue the debate.
No rational person has ever denied that the regulation of greenhouse gases would require some sort of price tag. But what most of these folks are refusing to acknowledge is that there have always been costs associated with the production of greenhouse gases. It’s just that these costs have consistently been externalized onto you, me and every living thing around us.


In 1995, the Union of Concerned Scientists released a fascinating report that reviewed a number of different studies on this very subject. Here’s an excerpt:

…Pollution costs are borne by society in the form of increased health care costs and loss of wages due to illness and premature death (I.e., morbidity and mortality costs), reduced agricultural output, loss of visibility, and damage to buildings.
Delucchi (1995) estimates the total cost in 1991 of environmental externalities to be $54 billion to $232 billion. Human mortality and morbidity due to air pollution accounts for over three-quarters of the total environmental cost and could be as high as $182 billion annually. For the Los Angeles area, Hall et al. (1992) estimates that the annual health-based cost from ozone and particulate exposure alone to be almost $10 billion.

The painful truth is that if we already took these costs into consideration (and they were not externalized, but rather included as operational costs), our entire energy infrastructure would likely look a lot different than it does today.
In 2006, the U.K.’s New Economics Foundation reviewed the cost of climate change in reference to CO2 production from oil and gas. What they found may surprise you.
Based on an estimate of $35 per ton of CO2, and calculating the cost of emissions from BP’s oil business (from production to consumption), the New Economics Foundation tallied a damage bill of $51 billion a year. Yet at that time, BP’s profit came in at only $19 billion!
Accounting for those externalized costs, oil isn’t nearly as cheap as we’ve always been led to believe.
The fact is, we’ve become accustomed to pricing that is inconsistent with the true value of “things.” Our homes, our energy, our cars. Our food, our clothes, our appliances. Nearly everything we buy today is done so at a discount, because the costs of climate change and pollution have never really been figured into the equation.
So when these guys come out with their “it costs too much to regulate greenhouse gases” argument – it’s all smoke and mirrors.
As a side note, I do find it rather interesting that Wyoming Senator, John Barrasso called this latest report a “smoking gun”, saying that it appears to him that the decision to regulate greenhouse gases was based more on political calculation than on scientific ones.
I don’t pretend to know everything that’s going on in the EPA these days. But I would like to believe EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, is using the mountains of peer-reviewed data on global climate change to guide her decision-making process. Barrasso, on the other hand – well, I would imagine that much of his decision-making process is based on the $131,000 he received in oil contributions during the 110th congress. Or maybe it’s the $82,250 he received in coal contributions.
Don’t buy it folks. Every time they oppose any meaningful effort to reduce greenhouse gases, they need to be called out. Because any argument they conjure up at this point will likely prove to be like every other argument they’ve made before. Nothing more than a way to keep those big campaign contributions coming in.
Major decisions are being made in Washington, right now. And these decisions will go down in history as the decisions that saved this sinking ship…or torpedoed it. The latter is not an option!


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  • Ashwin

    Speaking of contributions, there was an article on the Guardian UK’s website last night about the billions of dollars that have been spent on oil, gas, and coal industry-sponsored PR campaigns. It’s astounding the amount of pressure that is being exerted to undermine energy and climate change policy. Hopefully our leaders can sift through all the smoke and mirrors and institute some impactful policy.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the link, Ashwin. Great stuff!

  • Ashwin

    Well… what do you know? Looks like Richard Levangie saw the Guardian piece as well and had some stuff today too…