Monday, September 25, 2006

Cleaner air for all Americans - at what price?

In a follow up to the previous post, it is interesting to note that on Thusday the US government approved new air pollution standards promising "cleaner air for all Americans".

Of course as one might have guessed:

"health and environmental groups said the revised rules are too weak to protect against lung disease and other pollution-related ailments."


"groups that represents U.S. electric power companies -- one key source of the particle pollution addressed by the standards - said the new rules were too stringent."

What is interesting is how the "economics" are treated which links back to our previous posts on the value of statistical life.

For example, on the benefits:

"The new standards will reduce premature deaths, heart attacks and hospital stays for people with heart and lung disease and bring health benefits valued at between $20 billion and $160 billion a year, Johnson said. "
whilst on the costs:

"Stanko said complying with the new standards would cost an estimated $20 billion to $60 billion a year. He said his group was considering possible legal appeal of EPA's decision.".

The related economic analysis is fairly standard Environmental Economics 101 with co-ordination problems amongst those who might benefit whereas the "losers" are far more able to coordinate their "lobbying". It will be interesting to see how any appeal progresses. It can only be a matter of time before the "costs" are related to "job losses" in an attempt to gain public support for the appeal.

A final point to note for those with ongoing heart and lung problems, don't hold your breath....

"States must meet these new standards by 2015, with a possible extension to 2020."

No comments: