The Environmental Protection Agency has quietly reduced the hypothetical value of a human life by almost a million dollars to $6.9 million, reports the AP. The figure is used in cost benefit analyses to weigh the life-saving potential of environmental protection policies. Placing a lower value on human life could be used to justify avoiding costly regulations.
Critics charge that the Bush administration has manipulated the numbers to dodge environmental protections. "It appears that they're cooking the books in regard to the value of life," says the director a group which represents local air pollution regulators. "Those decisions are literally a matter of life and death." An EPA official says the adjustment was based on better economic studies reflecting consumer preferences. "It's our best estimate of what consumers are willing to pay to reduce similar risks to their own lives."