EPA says the value of an American life has decreased.

Posted on

"EPA says the value of an American life has decreased."

In May, the Environmental Protection Agency lowered its “value of a statistical life” measure to $6.9 million in today’s dollars, which is “a drop of nearly $1 million from just five years ago.” In other words, in the eyes of the EPA, the value of a human life has decreased. Here’s what the change means:

Though it may seem like a harmless bureaucratic recalculation, the devaluation has real consequences.

When drawing up regulations, government agencies put a value on human life and then weigh the costs versus the lifesaving benefits of a proposed rule. The less a life is worth to the government, the less the need for a regulation, such as tighter restrictions on pollution.

Critics say that the Bush administration is “changing the value to avoid tougher rules.” “It’s hard to imagine that it has other than a political motivation,” said former senior EPA official Dan Esty.

« »

By clicking and submitting a comment I acknowledge the ThinkProgress Privacy Policy and agree to the ThinkProgress Terms of Use. I understand that my comments are also being governed by Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, or Hotmail’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policies as applicable, which can be found here.