EPA Releases Analysis of Power Plant BillsEnvironmental Protection Agency (EPA) released on October 27 2005 the cost and benefit analysis to the Bush administration's "Clear Skies Initiative" along with two other proposals. The two competing measures are from Senators Thomas Carper (D-Del.) and James Jeffords (I-Vt.). All of the proposed plans suggest different methodologies to reduce emissions from power plants. As expected, the more costly bills (Carper and Jeffords) return greater health benefits. According to the report, the costs to industry of the Carper and Jeffords bills would be about $10 billion and $41 billion, respectively. The Clear Skies Initiative is estimated at $3 billion. The health benefits from the Carper bill would be worth about $109-128 billion, while the Jeffords bill shows health benefits at $139-162 billion. The Clear Skies health benefits would only be between $66 and 72 billion. Additionally, by 2020 the cost of the Carper bill would decline to $9.5 billion, while the Clear Skies would rise to $5.7 billion and the Jeffords bill would be at $50.8 billion. Again, the health benefits reflect the costs.
An analysis of these indicates that the three proposals do not fair any better when compared to the existing regulations, which makes you wonder why our government has spent so much time on the issue. Some attribute the political attention to the power of the coal lobby. The Clear Skies and the Carper proposal are the most coal friendly. While the existing regulations and the Jeffords proposal would force a decline in coal production. Coal production, in effect, would have an impact on the cost of power generation. The retail price of power generation per kilowatt/hr is expected to decrease slightly under Clear Skies, remain constant under the Carper proposal and increase slightly under the Jeffords plan. Although Clear Skies has mustered the most political attention, a strict review of the numbers shows that the Carper proposal has a substantially greater societal economic payback. Furthermore, the Carper plan also includes controls on carbon dioxide to help defray that pesky problem of global warming.
More information on the three proposals can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/airmarkets/mp/