A few days ago, EPA Chief Gina McCarthy penned a post on Mic.com, claiming to make the “economic case” for clean energy, asserting that carbon pollution, like that produced by coal-fired power plants, is cutting into economic stability and growth. McCarthy called for support for the Clean Power Plan, a reconfiguration of carbon emission standards that would put weight on coal-fired power plants to clean up their acts or face the consequences.
The downside of the Clean Power Plan is, of course, that if coal-fired power plants fail to meet the standards the EPA sets forth, many of them will be forced out of business, sometimes costing states hundreds of industrial jobs. McCarthy claims that the rise in solar energy could make up for the loss, but failed to illustrate whether the number of gained solar jobs would be equivalent to the number of lost power plant jobs, which means that her plan may not be as economically powerful as she believes.
There are also other economic consequences to McCarthy’s plan that she hasn’t considered: whether Americans can afford clean energy on an individual basis. As the EPA and the Obama Administration has increased their pressure on so-called “dirty” energies, like coal, they’ve driven up energy costs for individuals, and according to a study released this week by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, that’s having a disparate effect on lower-income Americans.
Yesterday the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity released a report that documents how the Obama administration’s war on coal (and on cheap energy generally) has hurt poor and middle-class Americans. While I can’t vouch for the calculations, the report is an impressive piece of work, based on energy consumption and price data from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, along with data from the Census Bureau and the Congressional Budget Office.
Energy costs consume a substantial portion of the budgets of lower-income Americans. This simple chart tells the story: while energy costs account for only 7% of expenditures by those who earn over $50,000 per year, those making less than $30,000 pay an astonishing 23% of their after-tax income for energy.
ACCCE even compiled their energy consumption cost data into a handy chart:
The ACCCE’s study is obviously agenda-driven – after all, the coal industry is well-represented in their name – but the EPA’s economic push is agenda-driven as well. For clean energy activists and million-dollar budget green energy organizations – or even, for that matter, the EPA – the rising energy costs are merely an unfortunate side effect, perhaps even a way of pushing people to support clean energy initiatives – if, as with McCarthy’s piece, they can claim that clean energy is economically feasible – if only by manipulating market forces. They make coal-produced electricity more expensive through regulation, while making solar-produced energy less expensive through subsidy, in the hopes that some day, Americans will turn to heavily subsidized alternative energy sources to escape the higher cost of readily available ones.
Beyond simple market manipulation, though, the ACCCE study demonstrates a key effect of cronyism within the environmental movement. According to the ACCCE study, many Americans sacrificed in other areas in order to meet rising energy costs, some even forgoing prescriptions, medical care and food in order to simply heat their homes. But while they struggle, ultimately because of the EPA’s heavy regulatory hand, the companies the EPA favors – and their millionaire investors – are profiting at suffering Americans’ expense. Alternative energy bigwigs like Al Gore and billionaire environmentalists hedge fund operators like Tom Steyer, are using the Obama Administration’s push for alternative energy to get rich off of grants and loans the EPA and DOE dole out to alternative energy projects, and off of climate-altering investments.
The poor get poorer (and colder) while the rich get richer.