By Ronald Stein
Finally, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) founded five decades ago in 1970 by President Richard Nixon is seeking comments (link provided at the end of this article) on proposed regulation changes that will provide Increased Consistency and Transparency of Benefits and Costs in the Clean Air Act Rulemaking Process (EPA-HQ-OAR-2020-00044).
A major focus of climate policies has been toward the energy industry that was virtually non-existent before 1900. Today, America has less than five percent of the world’s population (330 million vs. 8 billion). However, the oil and gas industry is not just an American business with a few refineries to service the demands of its residents, but an international industry with more than 700 refineries worldwide that service the demands of almost 8 billion living on earth. Those manufacturers make the derivatives from oil that are needed to make more than 6,000 products that come from the derivatives of crude oil, including every part in solar panels and wind turbines as well as the various fuels to the world to operate planes, trucks, construction equipment, merchant ships, cruise ships, and automobiles.
As the homeless and poverty populations continue to grow in America it is becoming apparent that the unintended consequences of those stringent climate policies perpetuate into more costs onto the poorest residents as those policies are implemented. To the detriment of the poorest, things like the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and California’s Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) from1970 are being weaponized against projects that ultimately lands extra costs onto the laps of those that can least afford more expensive products and services.
As America recovers from the COVID-19 shelter-in-place mandates, America cannot rid itself from the continuing high costs imposed by climate polices that other countries are not shackled by. These high costs severely limit the country’s economic base and the potential for improvement for its underclass.
To the detriment of those that can least afford expensive energy, climate policies have driven up the cost of electricity and fuels, which have driven up the cost of virtually everything used in our daily lives. Climate policies disproportionately harm its poorest residents particularly Latinos and African Americans.
If enacted, future significant regulations promulgated under the Clean Air Act may be accompanied by a benefit-cost analysis (BCA) to share with the public as any costs imposed on industry will trickle down to the products and services used by all of society, both rich and poor.
It is immoral that time after time, climate policies continually imposes new costs and restrictions on energy and home-building which guarantee that housing, electricity prices, and transportation will continue to rise, which harms working families and minority communities the most.
One would think that the same folks that are demonstrating their rebellion with protests nationwide and worldwide about racial injustices by police departments following the “live lynching” of George Floyd would be the same folks being racially biased with more costs for energy that they cannot afford and would culminate that pain into protests of “enough is enough” and seek changes to lower the costs of energy for the poor.
Vehicle transportation is the survival mechanism for low-income people. If you try to increase the cost of automobiles and the costs of fuel, you hurt low-income people. Some of the taxes and climate policy costs hidden in the all-in posted price of fuel at the pump are: federal tax, excise tax, state tax, local sales tax, cap and trade program compliance costs, low-carbon fuel standard program compliance costs, and renewable fuels standard program compliance costs.
Cheap expressions of sympathy and solidarity to inner-city residents from the affluent are negated with imposition of unbearable costs for the energy to survive. Only by reducing rather than increasing the cost of energy, can we restore broad upward mobility potential for the underclass and hope to maintain a healthy democratic society.
The financial racial biasing of climate policies against the poorest residents, particularly Latinos and African Americans is unconscionable. If you feel so inspired you can “Comment Now” at the EPA site https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=EPA-HQ-OAR-2020-0044 to express your concerns with the cost impact on the poorest Americans that are already unbearable and leading to the growth of the homeless and poverty populations on our homeland.