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unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

EPA Devalues Life

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View Sarah Burt's blog posts
15 July 2008, 12:46 PM

As has been often observed here on unEarthed, the Bush EPA has taken regulatory avoidance to unprecedented levels.(See Martin Wagner's July 11 post

A subtle, but nonetheless nefarious new tactic for avoiding regulation to protect human health and the environment is EPA's recent statistical devaluation of an American life. For purposes of evaluating the costs and benefits of proposed regulations, EPA has adjusted the value of an American life to be nearly $1 million less today that it was five years ago.

This adjustment has significant consequences. When drawing up regulations, government agencies put a value on human life and then weigh the costs versus the lifesaving benefits of a proposed rule. By reducing the amount that a life is worth to the government and thereby reducing the calculated benefits of a proposed regulation, EPA is tilting the scales in favor of the administrations' friends in the regulated industries.

The timing of this change is no coincidence. The administration has been feeling the heat from all sides on its failure to address global warming. Congress, the Supreme Court, and many of the States, as well as the environmental community (including Earthjustice in its efforts to compel EPA to regulate GHGs from motor vehicles, aircraft, and marine vessels) are all demanding action.

In EPA's frantic attempt to justify its decision not to act despite its own estimate that regulating GHGs would actually save US society between 340 billon and 2 trillion dollars by 2020, EPA is now trying to cook the books.

We have long suspected that this administration values the health of corporate America's bottom line over our own health and the health of our environment. Now we have the numbers to prove it.

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