Senators/doctors say EPA rules could cause unemployment, illness

By Michael P. Tremoglie | Jun 19, 2012


WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - Four U.S. Senators who are also physicians wrote President Barack Obama Monday urging him to halt the regulatory zeal of his Environmental Protection Agency.

Many of its enforcement efforts have been recently rejected by courts that described the EPA as operating far outside of the scope of its authority.

U.S. Senators John Barrasso, R-Wyo.; Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; Rand Paul, R-Ky.; and John Boozman, R-Ark., wrote the letter calling on Obama to stop pushing expensive EPA regulations.

The doctors/senators said they were concerned about the "the barrage of regulations coming out of the Environmental Protection Agency."

They alleged that much of these regulations are "designed to end coal in American electricity generation" and this will have deleterious consequences. They said, "Just before you made the decision to withdraw EPA's plan to revise its ozone standard - a plan which would have destroyed hundreds of thousands of jobs - your former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley asked the question 'What are the health impacts of unemployment?'

"Today, we are requesting that you consider your former aide's question carefully: Instead of putting forth rules that create great economic pain which will have a terrible effect on public health, we hope that going forward, you will work with Republicans to craft polices that achieve both environmental protection and economic growth."

The four politician-physicians also noted, "As you know, proponents of your EPA's aggressive agenda claim that regulations that kill jobs and cause electricity prices to skyrocket will somehow be good for the American people. We come to this issue as medical doctors and would like to offerour 'second opinion': EPA's regulatory regime will devastate communities that rely on affordable energy, children whose parents will lose their jobs, and the poor and elderly on fixed incomes that do not have the funds to pay for higher energy costs. The result for public health will be disastrous in ways not seen since the Great Depression."

One of the policies they zeroed in on was the Utility Maximum Achievable Controlled Technology rule which they claimed is so severe that as much as 20 percent of the existing coal-fired power plant fleet will retire.

This rule, they say -- when combined with other EPA, Army Corps of Engineers and Interior Dept. policies -- is aimed at eliminating surface coal mining operations. They will result in joblessness in parts of the nation where the economy is driven by coal development. According to them, "Joblessness will lead to severe health impacts for communities in these regions."

Sen. Barrasso and his colleagues also question the benefits of the EPA MACT rule. They claim that calculations are erroneous. They refer to estimates that the cost of the rule will be around $11 billion annually, but that it will yield no more than $6 million in benefits from reducing mercury and other air toxics.

"So by the agency's own calculations, Utility MACT completely fails the cost/benefit test," they declare.

The senators observe that they are not the only members of the medical profession that have raised this warning. They wrote, "Dr. Harvey Brenner of Johns Hopkins University testified on June 15th, 2011, before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee explaining that unemployment is a risk factor for elevated illness and mortality rates.

In addition, the National Center for Health Statistics has found that children in poor families are four times as likely to be in bad health as wealthier families." They also cite studies by economists that substantiate their claims.

The four physicians/senators concluded their missive by asking that the EPA immediately stop promoting regulations that wreak havoc on the economy of some portions of the United States. They requested that the Obama administration's EPA and other bureaus do cost/benefit analyses when promulgating regulations.

They allege that the EPA is more inclined to place significance on regulating the environment than on the impact of their regulations.

Barrasso said in as tatement to Legal Newsline, "As medical doctors, we've seen firsthand the negative health impacts of high unemployment. The Obama Administration just doesn't seem to understand that when Americans lose their jobs, their health and the health of their children suffers.

"In our letter to President Obama, we call on the Administration to stop pushing excessive regulations, like EPA's Utility MACT rule, that costs billions and put Americans out of work and into the doctor's office."

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