On June 2 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft rule to regulate carbon emissions from fossil-fired power plants across the country. The proposal mandated that power plants must cut carbon-dioxide emissions 30% by the year 2030, from 2005 levels.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a study a week ahead of the EPA’s new rules. The preemptive document stated that the new rules would cost the US 224,000 jobs every year through 2030 and $51 billion in economic output. The predictions based on this study were widely remarked on by Republican lawmakers and in conservative media.
In fact, while the US Chamber made the assumption that the EPA would want to cut emissions by 42%, the EPA actually asked for a lesser reduction of 30%. So all the chamber’s figures were nearly a third off.
Climate change should no longer be a matter of political debate anyway as Tom Reynolds wrote on an EPA blog. “Today, billions of dollars are going to rebuilding from more devastating storms, rising sea levels raise the cost of keeping our drinking water clean, and extreme heat and wildfires destroy towns and hurt local economies,” he said.
Jeff Spross of Climate Progress says the EPA’s figures were not only less than the Chamber anticipated, but they were also less than is likely, because they didn’t take into account the fact that electrical use will probably drop before 2030 and that technical innovations will also likely occur. “History suggests,” he says, that the EPA was “probably overestimating the negatives” of the new rules.
The chamber study also neglected to consider the positive impacts, such as relief from illnesses like asthma and heart disease and the opportunity for people to work in green energy. The cost of not acting on the changing climate was “conspicuously absent from the Chamber of Commerce report,” said Reynolds.
The coal-fired power plants the EPA’s rules address are America’s largest source of carbon dioxide pollution.