President Barack Obama told reporters this morning he is choosing EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy, the architect of unprecedented restrictions on energy use and power generation, to become the new head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Transform the Power Sector
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McCarthy is a longtime advocate of energy restrictions that she says are necessary to stop global warming. She also says government should actively seek to transform energy production in the United States away from affordable conventional sources and toward more expensive renewable alternatives.
“We must transform the power sector in a way that meets the needs of the 21st century,” McCarthy argued at the 2011 Energy, Utility & Environment Conference (EUEC) in Phoenix, Arizona. She repeatedly used the word “transform” to describe EPA’s goals for the nation’s energy use.
False Statements about Costs
“Concerns about cost and reliability always arise when we seek to overhaul industry,” said McCarthy, dismissing cost concerns of replacing inexpensive coal power with more expensive solar and wind power.
McCarthy acknowledged that EPA global warming restrictions are raising the cost of electricity in the United States, but asserted, “We already have relatively low and declining electricity costs.”
U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data, however, proved McCarthy wrong, showing the average retail price of electricity rose 50 percent since 1999 and did not decline on a year-to-year basis since 2001-2002.
No Data to Support Claims
At the 2012 EUEC conference McCarthy claimed EPA restrictions actually create wealth and jobs. She claimed, for example, EPA’s proposed Cross States Air Pollution Rule will provide between $120 billion and $280 billion in benefits each year. She also claimed EPA’s new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) will provide between $37 billion and $90 billion in benefits each year.
“If you are worried about whether this will benefit the economy, read those figures,” McCarthy challenged.
During a subsequent press conference, a reporter noted that EPA’s figures are based on its assertion that it creates $9.1 million in economic benefits for every life it claims to extend through regulations. McCarthy was then asked how EPA arrives at its $9.1 million figure and why it is so much higher than the value other federal agencies assign to lives saved or extended.
McCarthy said she could not give a specific answer, but assured the reporter that EPA “works in close consultation with the White House” to arrive at its figure.
“We work very hard to come up with the proper number,” said McCarthy.
Following up, the reporter asked McCarthy if her answer meant EPA does not have a specific formula it utilizes.
“I didn’t say that,” McCarthy responded. “I said I can’t answer the question.”
James M. Taylor (email@example.com) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.