The Feds Go Turbo: A new study shows how Energy rules raise costs for consumers.


Readers are familiar with the Environmental Protection Agency’s aspirations to re-engineer the economy for de minimis reductions in greenhouse gases. But riding sidecar is the Energy Department, which is pumping out regulations at record pace, according to research out this week from the American Action Forum.

Since 2007 the Energy Department has finished more than 25 major rules—those costing more than $100 million—and imposed more than $8 billion in annual costs, says a paper from AAF’s Sam Batkins. That doesn’t include 11 big ones that DOE hopes to polish off by next year. The Clinton Administration’s footprint totaled six major rules in eight years.

Many of Energy’s edicts cover humdrum household items: stiff efficiency standards for refrigerators, furnace fans and more. The feds admit that tweaks can be expensive and consumers will “incur higher purchase prices.” That puts it gently, at least for a 2010 rule that by the agency’s own estimates would jack up water-heater costs by more than $450 on average.

As with every green dream, the poor suffer most. According to AAF, a family who bought a refrigerator, a furnace fan and a water heater could pay a hidden “regulatory tax” of about $620—more than a week’s pay for someone who earns $30,000 a year.

The Energy Department rationalizes the damage by trumpeting supposed benefits. One is that consumers will save money through more efficient energy use (if they don’t rent a home and commit to one air conditioner for 20 years). By the way, the rules sail through a federally required cost-benefit test thanks to capricious accounting on the “social benefits” of reducing carbon. (Wall Street Journal)