Milloy: The Clean Power Plan’s Counterfeit Benefits

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by Steve Milloy, E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow
As Appearing in the Wall Street Journal

The Obama EPA claimed its regulation would have a $55 billion payoff. You’ll never believe how.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed repeal of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan is a milestone. No Republican administration has ever mustered the courage to roll back a major EPA regulation. In a clever twist, the Trump administration has done so by directly challenging the plan’s purported health benefits.

Although the Clean Power Plan was pitched as a way to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from coal-fired power plants, averting climate change was not how the Obama EPA justified the rule. In 2015 House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith forced Obama’s EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, to acknowledge that the plan would produce no change to global temperatures. Instead, the EPA justified the net benefit of the rule based on collateral reductions in power plants’ emissions of fine particulate matter. In regulatory parlance, this soot is called PM2.5.

While the compliance costs to industry of the Clean Power Plan could be as high as $33 billion a year, the Obama EPA claimed that the economic benefits from reducing PM2.5 emissions would be even larger—as much as $55 billion a year.

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