That compassionate conservative thing. December 19, 2002 the White House’s Office of Management and Budget instructs EPA to value the lives of senior citizens at 63 percent that of younger Americans when calculating the costs and benefits of air pollution regulations. A figure of $3.7 million was used for those under 70, and $2.3 million for those over 70.
On May 8, 2003, EPA Administrator Christie Whitman under fire declared, “It has been discontinued. E.P.A. will not, I repeat, not, use an age-adjusted analysis in decision making.” However, this is not the whole story. The EPA had in the past used a standard figure of $6.1 million per human life. So in effect the cost of human life versus pollution was devalued across the board before the age inequality was factored in. The result is a substantially reduced benefits side of the equation which weakens the case for pollution regulation. Also it was not clear how absolute Whitman’s statement actually was. John Graham administrator for information and regulatory affairs at OMB who championed the age adjusted method said too it was not for policy making but to provide extra guidance, as if there was a difference between the two.