For Immediate Release:
March 19, 2015

Contact:
Craig Richardson
Richardson@eelegal.org
202-758-8301

E&E Legal Files Comments on EPA’s Proposed Ozone Rule; EPA’s Contention that the Rule Will Save Lives is Bogus as the Rule Will Actually Cause an Increase in Deaths

Washington, D.C. — On Tuesday, the Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) filed Comments on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Proposed Rule regarding National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone.  The bottom line of the comment is that to prevent 10,000 premature deaths, EPA will cause 310,000 people to die before their time.  E&E Legal questions why EPA would issue a rule that would kill 31 people for every life it attempts to save.

In the proposed rule, EPA claims that PM2.5 pollution currently kills thousands of Americans annually, and that deaths that would be avoided by the proposed rule. These estimates, however, are based on cherry-picked studies and extrapolation of health effects below the lowest PM2.5 concentrations associated with mortality in epidemiological studies. More significantly, EPA does not take into consideration it’s own extensive research into the health impacts and mortality rates related to the loss of citizens’ disposable income.

Reductions in premature deaths attributed to reductions in ozone and PM2.5 pollution account for more than 98% of the estimated health benefits of the proposed rule. The basis for these estimates are fatally in error, and a proper analysis shows the regulatory alternatives cause more premature death than they prevent.

“EPA’s analysis callously ignores the health-wealth relationship of the proposed ozone regulatory alternatives,” said E&E Legal’s General Counsel, Dr. David W. Schnare, a thirty-three year veteran of the EPA who authored the comments. “The Agency helped lead research into the relationship between health and disposable income, commissioned studies on how to apply this knowledge and like other agencies has used this analytical method routinely. That it has not done so in this rule is a fatal flaw of its analysis of the health consequences of the regulatory alternatives and requires EPA to withdraw the rule.”

According to the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau data, amongst the 121.1 million families in the United States (under-counting families that are not legally in residence), over nine million (9,200,000) families have pretax annual incomes of less than $10,000, averaging about $5,000 a year. These families are typically minorities or the elderly on fixed income.

“To ignore the consequences of the rule on these families is tantamount to complete failure to examine the environmental equity of the rule,” added Schnare. “In all likelihood premature deaths will arise within these subpopulations, meaning this rule in a practical sense is both racist and ageist.”

Faced with decreased disposable income, low income persons go without food, medical care and prescription drugs. They become sick more often than those who can absorb the increases in regulatory costs. And, of those that become sick, some die prematurely simply because they no longer have the disposable income to pay for health care. This is the health-wealth relationship at its core.

EPA has previously applied this principle to economic analyses, stating in a 1995 study: “people’s wealth and health status, as measured by mortality, morbidity, and other metrics, are positively correlated.Hence, those who bear a regulation’s compliance costs may also suffer a decline in their health status, and if the costs are large enough, these increased risks might be greater than the direct risk-reduction benefits of the regulation

[emphasis added].

In their February 2015 study for the National Association of Manufacturers, NERA Economic Consulting, a firm identical in nature to those used by EPA to conduct the Agency’s regulatory impact assessment, estimates significantly larger adverse impacts than does the Agency.

The accompanying Table 1, from E&E Legal’s comments, summarizes the supposed premature deaths “avoided” by the three regulatory alternatives contained within the EPA Ozone rule. In addition, estimates of premature deaths caused by the economic impact of the proposed regulation using EPA and NERA’s models is also provided.

“The bottom line is that in order for the EPA at the 60 ppb level to avoid approximately 10,000 premature deaths, the agency’s proposed ozone rule will in fact cause 46,000 deaths according to EPA’s modeling, and 310,000 deaths when the NERA estimate is utilized,” said Schnare. “Certainly more than ample reason to kill this proposed rule,” he concluded.

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The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) is a 501(c)(3) organization engaged in strategic litigation, policy research, and public education on important energy and environmental issues. Primarily through its petition litigation and transparency practice areas, E&E Legal seeks to correct onerous federal and state policies that hinder the economy, increase the cost of energy, eliminate jobs, and do little or nothing to improve the environment.

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