This summer the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will finalize its carbon-dioxide emission regulations under President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. The EPA’s own data projects the regulations will reduce global carbon by less than 1 percent and sea level rise by one one-hundredth of an inch. The price Americans will pay for these “benefits” is layoffs and increased energy rates. Yet for the nation’s most vulnerable, the impacts will be far worse, pushing millions into poverty.
Proposed in June 2014, the Clean Power Plan imposes emission reduction targets on each state, with some facing targets as high as 50 percent and 70 percent. The problem is such aggressive targets are simply unattainable. This will force states to close power plants and use inefficient energy sources, causing hundreds of thousands of layoffs and double-digit rate increases in more than 40 states.
While the impacts of the regulations will harm the nation as a whole, job losses and rate increases will be particularly devastating to those already struggling under the president’s failed policies.
A recent report by the National Black Chamber of Commerce found the impact of the president’s and the EPA’s proposed regulations on minority communities would be devastating. The report focused on job losses, reductions in household income and increased poverty rates.
The chamber found that implementation of the EPA regulations would result in the loss of an increasing number of African-American and Hispanic jobs. In 2020 alone, 200,000 African-American jobs are projected to be lost, with Hispanics suffering more than 300,000 job losses. By 2035, the cumulative job losses for African-Americans would total nearly 7 million and for Hispanics over 12 million.
The report further found the EPA’s regulations would decrease median household income for African-Americans by more than $5,000 over the next 20 years. For Hispanic Americans, the losses would exceed $7,000 during the same period.
Such debilitating losses would force many African-American and Hispanic families to choose between necessities such as food, housing and medical care. For example, housing-cost burdens are 30-40 percent higher for African-Americans and Hispanics when compared to whites, a burden that will only grow under EPA rules.
Most disturbing is the impact the regulations would have on poverty rates. As a result of job losses, increased costs and declining income, the poverty rate for African-Americans is projected to increase more than 23 percent. Hispanic poverty would see an even higher increase of over 26 percent.
Thus, an overlooked consequence of the proposed regulations is millions of African-American and Hispanic Americans will be thrust below the poverty line, many of whom just recently worked their way out.
In any other scenario, such a disparate impact on minority groups in America would be cause for national outcry. Sadly, the EPA and the president conveniently overlook these impacts when their legacies are on the line.
Obviously for Mr. Obama and the EPA, a reduction in global carbon dioxide of less than 1 percent is worth forcing millions of Americans into poverty. Given the nearly non-existent benefits of these regulations, one can only ask what is really driving the issue, because it certainly isn’t the health and well-being of the American people.
• Justin Sykes is federal affairs manager at Americans for Tax Reform.
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