Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The EPA and the U.S. Economy by Roberto Selva

PHS 100A
Warner Pacific College
October 23, 2011

In 1970, Richard Nixon founded the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The creation of this government agency was in response to the growing environmental concerns in the U.S. and its impact on human health.  The agency’s responsibilities include: establishing and enforcing environmental standards, carrying out research, funding educational initiatives, and supporting voluntary pollution reduction schemes in the U.S.  The formation of new rules and regulations by the EPA cost Americans hundreds of billions of dollars per year.  Naturally, this also affects the industries that are being targeted by EPA and forces companies to raise prices, directly impacting the U.S. economy.
In the first quarter of 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency began a multi-month comment period on a new proposed rule and regulation that would stiffen emissions restrictions on industrial power plants that burn coal and oil.  This would have a three-fold negative effect in the economic development of our society.  First: the closure of older industrial plants.  Even with the assumption that not one single plant would close, energy prices would still rise because older plants would require upgrades to continue operations – which, in turn, would also raise prices.  Second: the construction of new plants would be more expensive.  Lastly: the inevitable rise to the cost of producing power.  According to the San Francisco Examiner, “These rules are projected by EPA to cost $11 billion per year in 2016 to American households, who will eventually pay the higher costs of producing electricity.” (Furchtgott-Roth, 2011)  This increase has many Americans concerned and even fearful of what this will mean to their electrical bills, paychecks, and wallets. 
In contrast, I personally believe that the positive effects of this proposed rule outweigh the negative ones.  First and foremost, let’s consider the effects that this would have on our health.  We should be grateful to have an agency that is concerned with looking out for the health of its citizens and protecting us from environmental risks.  Apart from improving our health, reducing the threat of cancer, premature deaths, heart attacks and asthma would also be added benefits.  When quantifying these health benefits in dollars, “the EPA rules finalized and proposed so far by the current administration have net benefits that could exceed $200 billion a year.” (Shapiro, 2011)
Furthermore, this new rule would also have a positive impact in our current unfortunate employment situation, which at the time had an unemployment rate hovering 9.0 and 9.2 percent.  According to the EPA, thousands of Americans would be employed nationwide including 31,000 short-term construction jobs and 9,000 long-term utility jobs.  Although this figure is relatively minute compared to the number of jobs created in the private sector, I believe that any form of job creation is fundamental to the furthering of not only our “American confidence” but also our economic environment. 
In conclusion, my belief is that the roles of environmental regulatory agencies are essential to the economic development of our society.  Without these agencies in place, we will deplete all of our resources (including our economic ones) in order to combat and fight environmental threats that will endanger our ecosystems and our livelihood here on earth.  Also, in order for these agencies to fully execute their environmental responsibilities, it is imperative for all of us to remove our personal views and biases from specific situations.  I trust that as environmental awareness becomes more popular in our society, we as human beings will become more cooperative with the EPA and other environment agencies for the benefit of our future and that of the earths.
Furchtgott-Roth, D. (2011). Epa rules disrupt the economy. Online newspaper,
Retrieved from http://www.sfexaminer.com/opinion/op-eds/2011/03/epa-rules-disrupt-economy
Koenig, B. (2011, August 22). Epa regulations to shut down coal plants and raise energy prices.
The New American, Retrieved from http://thenewamerican.com/tech-mainmenu-30/environment/8700-epa-regulations-to-shut-down-coal-plants-and-raise-energy-prices
Shapiro, I. (2011, September 20). Epa and the economy: much ado about 0.1 percent [Web log   
            message].  Retrieved from http://www.epi.org/blog/epa-economy-ado-0-1-percent/

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