Gone are the days when the Environmental Protection Agency was completely irrelevant in the average American’s life. Today, the EPA has become a strict regulatory body, and a favorite political arm of President Barack Obama. This past week, the EPA announced they would be increasing their efficiency requirements for heavy trucks while broadening their coal regulations in several ways.
Forbes reported that the EPA was seeking to require heavy truck’ fuel efficiency from 5 to 6 miles per gallon of diesel fuel, to 9 miles per gallon. Their logic is simple. By necessitating the use of more efficient trucks, the EPA is leaving drivers with two options: buy a new truck that meets that standard, or not drive at all. The EPA claim the added cost and burden of buying a new truck is negligible, given that drivers will ultimately save enough on fuel after a certain period of operating the new vehicles.
But this assertion seems hopeful at best.
The cost of the new engines that companies and individuals must buy to meet the 9 miles per gallon standard will likely be significantly higher than current engines, since they will all be brand-new, cutting edge pieces of technology. However, that is presuming that the cost of fuel does not rise in the prescribed period.
And who is to say that their trucks could even be outfitted for the new engines? Certainly not the EPA. Their assertion becomes even less likely to fit the truth when considering how much fuel and truck maintenance already cost. According to a report by Glostone, truck payment costs accounted for 18.9 cents per mile in 2011 compared to an average cost of 18.4 cents per mile in 2010. Many fleets eliminated more expensive units between these years and are now operating smaller fleets. The new EPA requirements will force companies to downsize their fleets even more in order to pay for the new, more expensive engines. This will ultimately result in fewer trucking jobs, and more expensive products for the American consumer, whom relies heftily on the trucking industry for goods.
The new regulations also call for greater restrictions on coal production plants. The EPA hopes to reduce the amount of active coal plants by 30%, citing the need for less pollution in American waterways. The Daily Caller reported that this will reduce electrical output by nearly 90 gigawatts over five years. According to a report from the Institute for Energy Research, 72 gigawatts of electricity could power 44.7 million homes – or every home in every state west of the Mississippi river, excluding Texas. Their estimate is lower than the 90 gigawatts the EPA hopes to eliminate, but serves as a reference point for just how much energy could be removed from the power grid.
The retirement of these coal plants not only reduces potential electrical output, but also directly impacts coal producing states, which will inevitably see a direct hit on their economies and number of available jobs. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, five states account for 69% of the total U.S. coal production. Wyoming and West Virginia make up 39% and 12% respectively.
In Wyoming, coal miners accounted for 6,516 workers and generated more than $1.1 billion in tax revenue for their state and local governments. In West Virginia, coal miners accounted for 19,427 workers and generated more than $490 million in tax revenue for their state and local governments.
The regulations placed on coal mining states like Wyoming and West Virginia will result in fewer available jobs for their workers, in addition to the jobs they will lose from these regulations. These states will also have to come up with the loss in tax revenue elsewhere. This creates greater burdens on both the state and families who must now contend with these losses.
So who stands to benefit from the new EPA regulations? Clearly not American workers or the economy.