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Will Obama’s New EPA Rules Put People Out in the Cold this Winter?

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Either Obama’s policy team doesn’t care about folks that manage to make a life outside of the Big Cities, or his environmental legacy is more important to him than those same people freezing in their own houses during the winter months.

Because it’s clear from the recent series of proposed regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): President Obama is intent on forcing significant changes to all heating and electrical systems in the U.S.

It’s also obvious, even to the least cynical observer, that the President and his White House appointees are capitalizing on Pope Francis’ recent encyclical on climate change. However, it is important the White House understand that as much as the Pope would like our elected leaders to actually put forward solutions, they should be wary of causing more harm than good.

As much as the Pope may not like to admit it, sometimes the old maxim is true: the road to hell is often paved with good intentions.

The Papal encyclical does not outline specific policy goals, nor does it lay out the path by which the Obama Administration should move forward. But while these newest regs will probably not result in wasting billions more tax dollars like Obama’s “green tech investment fund” (aka Solyndra), the hipster political appointees in the White House need to understand that there are still consequences to their policy making. This policy making, as they have proposed it, will hurt the very people it’s supposed to help.

While the career personnel at the EPA are well aware of the painful impact of the regulations, there is nothing they are able to do to stop Obama’s “well-intentioned” political minions. The regulations encourage states to create new – unfunded – programs to alleviate the costs of the regulations; however, not even the EPA itself attempts to deny the massive additional costs every individual and family will be burdened with under these new regulations.

At a time when we are regularly reminded that seniors are forced to choose between buying food or paying for their medication, these policies are stunning in their callousness. By their very nature, regulations which impose increased costs for basic necessities – like energy, heating and food – are a regressive tax. Put simply, this means the costs are the same dollar amount for every person in the entire country, but the costs are “regressive” because the amount eats an ever greater share of income for those making less.

So the Obama White House is simply hammering the cost of “fighting climate change” onto the backs of the working poor, the elderly, and every other financially endangered group in the country. The Pope’s recent encyclical and the nearly immediate release by the Obama Administration of these regulations is an interesting ploy by the White House to cloak their massive new spending in an attempt to “help”, but it is important to understand what the change would immediately mean for real Americans.

With that in mind, let’s look at an example: the LIHEAP program. LIHEAP is an acronym for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. If you’ve never heard of LIHEAP, count yourself lucky. That means you’ve managed to avoid living in the coldest portions of the country. Established in the early 1980s in reaction to the skyrocketing costs of home heating oil, the LIHEAP program gives assistance to families who would otherwise be unable to pay for the hundreds of gallons of heating oil used by their oil burning furnace. Seem simple and straightforward, right?

While there is regular debate over whether funds for heating assistance would be better spent toward underwriting new, energy efficient heating systems, the economics actually point toward continuing the subsidy for the heating oil – not toward creating a new program to buy everyone a new heating system – which is what the new EPA regs propose. The proof of this is readily apparent to the most ardent environmentalist. They need only review the already existing tax credit programs for families replacing existing heating oil systems.

Instead of bothering to assess or even acknowledge the massive unfunded federal mandate which just this portion of the new regulations creates, the EPA plows ahead unthinking. Nearly every portion of the new regs contain similar unfunded programs. None of the programs will see new ppropriations, nor will they receive any space in the President’s own proposed budget for the next Fiscal Year.

The manner in which policy makers deal with global warming is very much under debate. The recent proposed regulations by the EPA and the Obama White House? Those are simply a new political talking point, not a real solution.


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