(NaturalNews) Were you aware that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regularly estimates the "value of statistical life?" Five years ago the EPA estimated the value of one human life to be $7.8 million and as of May, 2008 the estimation was $6.9 million for one human life. This is almost a $1 million decrease over the last five years.
Can we label this a simple bureaucratic calculation with little importance or might this devaluation have significant consequences for the American people?
When government agencies are constructing and writing regulations, they assign a value on human life and a part of the construction of legislation is to weigh associated costs against the lifesaving benefits of a proposed legislation.
Obviously, the less a life is deemed worth to the government, the less the need for any regulation to protect it. For example, the EPA refused to impose tighter restrictions on pollution recently. This basically puts off any action that might be taken on climate change indefinitely. It's been whispered that the Bush administration has changed the value to avoid tougher regulations. The EPA denies this allegation.
This devaluation has alarmed Congress, however. The Senate environment committee and their chairman Barbara Boxer have stated that they will introduce legislation designed to reverse the recent move by the EPA.
"EPA may not think Americans are worth all that much, but the rest of us believe the value of an American life to our families, our communities, our workplaces and our nation is no less than it has ever been," Stated Boxer.
Officials from the EPA
state that they were following what current science showed them. The Value of Statistical Life figure is not based on the earning capacity of individuals or their potential contributions to society. These are factors commonly used in insurance claims and lawsuits. Instead, the value is calculated based on what individuals are willing to pay to avoid certain risks, and also on how much extra employers will pay their workers to take on additional risks.
Most of the data utilized is taken from payroll statistics. Some also comes from opinion surveys. The EPA
cautions that people should not think of this number as a price tag on a life.
There are economists who don't understand the reasoning behind the cut because as people become more successful and affluent, the value of statistical life
should go up also. They should be connected. There has also been no studies performed that have shown that Americans are less willing to pay to reduce risk-taking.
Traditionally, the EPA has always put the highest value on life out of any government agency. They still do actually, despite efforts to use the same figure for all U.S. government agencies.
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