Monday October 22nd, 2018 14:33 Trump claims you may have saved $5 last year with regulation cuts

Math. It’s so hard.

I ran by this idiotic phrasing all last week, with “Trump Claims $1.6 Billion a Year Saved From Cutting Red Tape” being one of my favorites.

First, the population of the US is about 325 million. Divide $1.6 billion by that and you get about $4.92.

A crisp fiver for every man, woman and child in the country.

And what do we give up for this largesse? Nothing of importance. Just bothersome environmental regulations. You can check out a more complete list here, but I’ll give some highlights:

  • Companies who build oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico no longer have to bother with proving that they can afford to remove them when all the oil has been drained from the site – meaning they get to just abandon the thing**
  • Bridges built by local and state governments are no longer required to fall into the cumbersome category of ‘bridge that won’t wash away in a flood’
  • You are free to use lead ammo and tackle in national parks – lead isn’t good enough for your gas tank, but feel free to fling it around our national treasures
  • Coal companies can once again dump mine runoff directly into local streams and rivers, bringing back the classic ‘blood of the innocent’ river color we’re all so fond of
  • Ensured you could once again easily buy plastic bottles of water in national parks, despite what a bunch of filthy hippies the National Park Service said about the reduction program being good for the land and a successful program overall

Sounds like a deal to me. Where do I pick up my $5?

Oh. Wait.

The money goes to the companies. Not the public. So I get nothing. And neither do you.

Well, you can go to a national park, fill something full of lead, then throw a plastic bottle over the edge of the bridge you’re on – which is being washed away by acid-filled demon-blood water, then fall in yourself. As long as the river is heading towards the gulf, you’ll be stopped from washing out to sea by the nearest abandoned oil rig.

Woo, freedom.

**Back in 2010, the Obama administration ordered the plugging of inactive wells in the gulf – about 3,750 of them. Any well that submitted a plan to restart use at any point in the future (of often-multi-decade leases) were not listed as inactive. These were only the ones the oil companies themselves functionally admitted were completely useless.

There were also about 27,000 abandoned (not inactive) wells there at the time.

Removing or plugging the shallow-water wells costs between $4-10 million each, and now that cost can be shifted to the taxpayer. Deep-water wells costs hundreds of millions to remove, but we’ll ignore that inconvenient fact for now.

Again, math is hard, so I’ll do it for you:

Just the inactive ones:
3,750 inactive wells X $4 million (minimum) each = $15 billion

All of them:
27,000 X $4 million (minimum) each = $108 billion

Since that’s all tax money, the government will need an extra $46.15 (or $332.31 if we want to do the job right) from everyone***.

Enjoy your $5.

***Not from the companies that built the rigs, though. They just got a tax cut.

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IT guy, dev, designer, writer.

Got a degree in print journalism from UF but history dealt some bad cards to that industry, so I moved back to an earlier love: the computer.

Was recently at ZMOS Networks, but am now the Senior IT Associate at the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation.

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