American Petroleum Institute: Public Health Isn't Worth Us

The American Pollution Petroleum Institute is once again attempting to put industry profits ahead of public health. As Politico's Morning Energy reports today, API's Howard Feldman plans to tell reporters that stronger air quality standards would be too expensive for industry.

Maybe someone should remind Mr. Feldman that the US Supreme Court ruled in 2001 that that clean air standards must be based solely on health considerations. Justice Antonin Scalia - one of the court's most conservative members - himself wrote in a unanimous opinion that the Clean Air Act "unambiguously bars cost considerations from the NAAQS-setting process and thus ends the matter for us as well as the EPA."

One would hope that opinion would end the matter for API as well, but apparently not. Nor does it seem to have registered with the Manufacturer's Alliance, which will be registering its complaints alongside API today.

So, the polluters are coming out swinging against standards that would protect the lives and health of tens of thousands of Americans. For example, if the EPA adopts one of the more protective standards proposed, every year thereafter Americans would avoid as many as

  • 12,000 deaths
  • 58,000 asthma attacks
  • 21,000 hospital and emergency room visits
  • 5,300 heart attacks
  • 420,000 missed work days
  • 2,100,000 missed school days

It is worth noting that polluters like API and the Manufacturer's Alliance have complained about the costs just about every time the Environmental Protection Agency does its job of enforcing the Clean Air Act. But opponents have consistently overestimated the costs of compliance, as I've mentioned before, on average by about 600% and in some cases by as much as 2,900%. So it's a fair guess that whatever numbers API and MAPI are sharing about new ozone standards are likely to be overstated.

Bottom line: the oil companies behind API and manufacturers behind the Manufacturer's Alliance are advocating that we allow thousands of Americans to die because they don't want to reduce deadly pollutions levels.

UPDATE: my colleague Laurie Johnson has done an excellent smack-down of the study on which API's and MAPI's cost complaints are based. Her assessment of the methodology resulted in this conclusion:

The methodology used in this report is invalid; no economist worth his or her salt would stand by it. Rather than providing rigorous economic analysis to help improve public policy decisions, MAPI's sole objective in issuing this report was to generate scary cost estimates and undermine measures to improve public health.