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Recently, nationally syndicated radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh has come under fire for using some incendiary language to describe a 30-year old female student at Georgetown law school. While Limbaugh has faced rebuke from almost every major personality in the United States, the comments made by syndicated talk show host Robert F. Kennedy Jr. have gone relatively unnoticed.
Last night, Kennedy posted a tweet calling Senator James Inhofe a prostitute for big oil. This comment was made in response to a letter written by Sen. Inhofe to Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding regulations on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A further inspection of the concerns and comments put forth by Sen. Inhofe in this letter reveals that the Senator’s intentions are not simply to advance the interests of oil companies but rather to point out the repercussions of the EPA’s global warming crusade as they pertain to the American public.
The criticism put forth by Sen. Inhofe focuses on the new GHG regulations introduced under Title II of the Clean Air Act (CAA). He points out that the EPA actually admits that the GHG standards would increase the emission of “fine particulate matter,” (PM) which, according to the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) is detrimental to public health, unlike carbon dioxide. The GHG regulations being promulgated by the EPA reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which is a necessary ingredient for life on this planet, while increasing emissions of PM, which actually endanger public health. For instance, the EPA regulations promote the development of improved engine technologies, such as direct gasoline injection fuel systems. However, while direct injection systems reduce GHG emissions, they increase the output of PM. Moreover, the increased fuel efficiency derived from this type of fuel system will compound the undesirable PM output effects by encouraging people to drive more. Unsurprisingly, the EPA has managed to achieve the exact opposite result of that which is intended by these regulations.
In addition, the EPA plans to enact Tier 3 regulations designed to reduce Sulfur levels in gasoline. A recent study by Baker and O’Brien indicates that the cost of implementing these measures could amount to $17 billion with reoccurring operational costs totaling $13 billion per year. This could mean a 25 cent increase in the gallon cost of gasoline which, as every American knows, would only add insult to injury with the current gas price situation.
Sen. Inhofe also points out that the regulatory proposals of the EPA conflict with those of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). He points out that the NHTSA uses a 0.15 multiplier to ease the burden of regulatory costs for cars fueled by compressed natural gas (CNG) or alternative fuels. With such a multiplier, a vehicle is considered to use only 15 percent of the fuel it actually uses which boosts its fuel economy and reduces production costs for the remainder of the auto manufacturer’s line. By contrast, the EPA incorporates no such multiplier, which means that the multiplier of the NHTSA can only be used to the extent that it complies with the regulations of the EPA. This will increase costs for auto manufacturers, making cars subject to these regulations more expensive.
To say that Sen. Inhofe’s letter indicates merely that he is beholden to the interests of oil companies is a demagogic tactic that ignores the real costs imposed on consumers and the economy. Further investigation will reveal that the GHG regulations are detrimental not only to the interests of oil companies but also to the general welfare of the American people. It is estimated that these regulations will add $2,000 to the cost of new cars in 2016. This is admitted by the EPA itself. Moreover, these regulations accomplish the exact opposite of what they are intended to. While they do reduce GHG emissions, they increase emissions of harmful pollutants which will negatively impact the health of the American people. Furthermore, these measures increase the cost of production for auto manufacturers and oil companies. While left-wing talk show hosts may find satisfaction in sticking it to the oil execs, the reality of the situation is that these regulations will mostly harm poor and middle class Americans. Mr. Kennedy can sit in his ivory tower and bash Sen. Inhofe to boost his ratings, while the EPA pushes more regulations to boost the price of gas and automobiles.