We recently discovered that EPA chief Gina McCarthy is coming for your air conditioners because she’s pretty worried about ozone. (We’ll leave aside for now the fact that the chemicals used in modern air conditioners don’t affect that particular issue.) It’s still on her mind and the agency already put forward some new rules to cut down on smog. This is an expensive proposition for American businesses and consumers and the agency admitted up front that the new rules would probably wind up costing us roughly one and a half billion a year. But it was worth the cost to save the planet, gosh darn it.

I think somebody forgot to check their math. (Daily Caller)

The Environmental Protection Agency estimated its stricter smog limits would only cost Americans $1.4 billion a year, but a new report argues the total cost to the economy is likely 40 times higher than agency estimates.

The right-leaning American Action Forum says EPA’s updated smog, or ground-level ozone, rule could cost $56.5 billion in lost wages based on economic losses from counties that couldn’t comply with the agency’s 2008 rule.

“Observed nonattainment counties experienced losses of $56.5 billion in total wage earnings, $690 in pay per worker, and 242,000 jobs between 2008 and 2013,” according to AAf policy experts.

So we’ll be sucking well over $50B a year out of the economy to achieve a reduction in ozone levels from 75 parts per billion to… 70 parts per billion. That’s a pretty steep price for what is likely barely measurable change. Trying to determine the effectiveness of such a change, even if it’s achieved is a challenge. The EPA’s own information on the subject doesn’t go much further than saying that more ground level ozone is bad and less is better. But how much is too much? A shift of 5 parts per billion in the “better” direction is probably better than nothing, but is it really worth this much of a price tag?

Perhaps the better question is how the EPA managed to arrive at one number when people experienced in the nuts and bolts of the science could come up with something so vastly different. Of course, given their history of shopping for deals on furniture and their knack for blowing millions on guns and heavy armor, math probably isn’t their strong suit to begin with and calculating the cost of things really isn’t up their alley either.

The bottom line is that counties who don’t manage to meet the new levels within the dictated timeline will face costs and not just from the feds. They will need to curtail certain activities such as either manufacturing or energy exploration. Both of those things mean jobs, so the hidden costs are multiplied well out from any individual fines or lack of federal funding. We really need somebody new at the helm of this agency before they finally manage to bankrupt us.