The Energy Department says its new efficiency standards for the 26 household products, including microwave ovens, incandescent reflector lamps, washing machines and dryers, will save consumers between $250 billion and $300 billion on their energy bills through 2030.
But Ben Lieberman, an environmental expert at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, says based on history, the regulations "will raise the purchase price of appliances – in some cases more than is ever likely to be earned back in the form of energy savings."
"Worse, several may adversely impact product performance and reliability," he wrote in a blog this week. "There are potentially problematic regulations on the way for virtually every room in the house."
An Energy official told FoxNews.com that the savings estimated by the department reflect the total lifetime cost of a product, not just the initial price increase
"There's little doubt that the Midwest is the Democrat's toughest region this year," Democratic pollster Tom Jensen concedes. "If the election was today, the party would almost certainly lose the governorships it holds in Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania," plus a host of Midwest Senate seats.
But why? One underreported reason is the belief, widespread among Farm Belt residents, that Obama administration environmental regulators are gunning for them.
Farmers, ranchers, and foresters "are increasingly frustrated and bewildered by vague, overreaching, and unnecessarily burdensome EPA regulations," a U.S. senator charged last week. They "are facing at least a dozen new regulatory requirements, each of which will add to their costs, making it harder for them to compete.… [M]ost if not all of these regulations rely on dubious rationales."
Significantly, the protesting senator was not a farm-state Republican making partisan hay. It was Blanche Lincoln, the Arkansas Democrat who chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Facing bleak re-election prospects in her heavily rural state, Lincoln convened a September 23 hearing to assess "the impact of EPA regulation on agriculture." Her clear, if tacit, message to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson and the White House was: You people are killing our election prospects in the heartland.
Lincoln ticked off examples of onerous EPA intrusions: unworkable "spray drift" pesticide regulations; proposed ambient air-quality standards that would impose impossible dust-reduction requirements on farmers; "wetlands" regulations that put even bone-dry areas off-limits to agricultural use; an ideological bias toward environmentalists when resolving Clean Water Act lawsuits.