EPA Standards Will Hurt Low-Income and Minority Households

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This is a guest post by Dr. Charles Steele of Working People for Fair Energy.

As a former Alabama State Senator and former President of the civil rights group the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), I’ve seen first-hand how low-income families and minority groups are disproportionately affected by the rising cost of electricity. I founded Working People for Fair Energy to advocate for energy laws that are fair and affordable to all people, especially low-income families across America.

As I’ve traveled the country, I’ve heard loud and clear that the people cannot afford increased energy prices. Unfortunately, the proposed renewable energy standards and the EPA’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions will do just that: raise energy prices, especially on consumers with low or fixed incomes.

In fact, a recent study by the Affordable Power Alliance found that low-income consumers, such as African Americans, Hispanics, and senior citizens, will be the most detrimentally impacted by the EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas emissions standards. (Read the whole study here.)  The study found that these emissions standards would impact these groups disproportionately, both because they have lower incomes to begin with, but also because they have to spend proportionately more of their incomes on energy, and rising energy costs inflict great harm on minority families. Lower-income families are forced to allocate larger shares of the family budget for energy expenditures, and minority families are significantly more likely to be found among the lower-income brackets. The findings are shocking.

Due to these EPA regulations, low-income families will bear the brunt of the costs. The study found that the regulations will cause a loss in jobs –  2.5 million by 2030 – including 390,000 jobs held by African Americans and 500,000 jobs held by Hispanics.  In addition, by the same year the average household income will be reduced by $1,200. By 2035, the African American median household income will be $700 less, while the Hispanic median household income will be $820 less. Due to these energy standards alone, by 2025, Hispanic poverty will increase 22 percent, and African American poverty will increase 20 percent.

Is this fair?  The working people say no.

Instead of regulating greenhouse gas emissions or requiring certain percentages of energy to come from government-mandated renewable sources, we should instead be focusing on ways to find abundant, affordable power sources. If we don’t, many of our hardest-working Americans will suffer.

-Dr. Charles Steele, Working People for Fair Energy