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wind turbines
Replacing coal burning plants with these would wreck the
 economy, according to the Chamber of Commerce.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a study Wednesday claiming that an Environmental Protection Agency rule governing power-plant emissions of carbon dioxide will devastate the U.S. economy, reducing gross domestic product by $51 billion annually, leading to an average of 224,000 fewer jobs each year, causing a cumulative loss of $586 billion in income by 2030 and raising electricity prices $289 million over the same period.

Call that hokum, if you like. But such a label is overly charitable. The chamber's claims are outright lies, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group. The NRDC released a new analysis of its own Thursday about gains from emissions limits.

The NRDC's director of climate programs, David Hawkins, said in a statement Wednesday:

“The Chamber’s so-called study is the latest in a long series of ‘sky-is-falling’ warnings of job losses and economic costs that are a big lie—part of the polluting industry’s disinformation campaign to preserve its profits by thwarting efforts to protect public health and curb climate change. After 40 years of erroneous predictions, the Chamber has zero credibility on this issue.

“The Chamber fails to account for jobs that would be created building wind turbines, solar panels, and other sources of renewable power; and the jobs to be created making our homes and businesses more efficient; and the jobs of cleaning up our dirty power plants.

At a phone-in press conference Thursday, NRDC spokespeople contrasted the organization's "Moderate, Full Efficiency" analysis with the chamber's calculations. If the EPA were to adopt its approach, the NRDC-commissioned analysts conclude, it would not only cut 531 million tons of carbon pollution each year by 2020—nearly a 25 percent reduction from 2012 levels—but also create 274,000 new energy efficiency-related jobs and save Americans $37.4 billion in electricity bills, an average of $100 a year per household by 2020.

Please read below the fold for more analysis on this subject.

For instance, the NRDC analysis found that Illinois would add 7,200 jobs, residential customers would save an average of $70 a year per household on their electricity bills and statewide savings for both residential and commercial customers would total $803 million in 2020.

The analysis is the latest in a string of NRDC studies that began in December 2012. The chamber based its attack study on the NRDC's extensive March 2013 proposal for cuts in emissions. That's because release of the EPA's actual rule is still five days away. While that rule will reportedly follow various elements of the NRDC's approach, its specifics are still unknown.

The reason for the existing plant rule—and another on emissions from future power plants that was announced last year—is climate change. It's no surprise that the term is mentioned just four times in the 66-page chamber attack study and never in a way acknowledging the reality of that facet of 21st Century life and beyond. 

The rules on emissions from power plants are major components of President Obama's Climate Action Plan and are designed to cut a significant portion of the CO2 the United States pumps into the atmosphere each year. Electricity-generating plants are the single largest source of U.S. carbon pollution, some 32 percent of the total.

The first EPA rule, announced last year, addresses the limit on emissions from future power plants and is expected to take effect in January 2015. The second, the one to be announced Monday focusing on the nation's roughly 1,000 existing power plants, is slated to go into effect no later than January 2017.

This assumes opposition from fossil fools and tools doesn't succeed in throwing up roadblocks to postpone those rules. The chamber's attack study is part of an opening salvo in that campaign of obstruction, and it will certainly not be the last.

The coal front group American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity issued a report in March claiming that the EPA rules would boost electricity prices in 29 states and eliminate 2.85 million jobs over the 15-year period ending in 2033.

In public comments to the EPA two weeks ago, the Electricity Reliability Coordinating Council said the existing power plant rule would eliminate coal electricity:

“The proposed rule is an example of regulation at its worst in that it attempts to direct market forces with only the vague hope of being able to deliver real benefits,” ERCC said. “Unfortunately, the costs of the proposed rule are very real in terms of limiting future electricity generation options, with consequent potential threats to electric reliability, affordability, and all of the economic and health harms that are associated with those results.”
No word from the ERCC about the potential and real benefits, of course.

Combined with other measures, the EPA rules can provide the nation a method of curbing pollution, spurring expansion of renewable energy and making our communities more sustainable. While the chamber and fossil fuel interests view emissions limits as a detriment to our well-being—as if the economy and the environment were separate entities—these rules can provide us with a huge opportunity to transform what now is a planetary wrecking ball into an earth-friendly, people-friendly economy.

But even the most well-crafted, well-implemented emissions rules will not be a panacea.

Getting a handle on global warming, that is, keeping the world from exceeding the 2°C average temperature rise that scientists say may allow us to avoid worse effects than are already predicted, will require much broader action. Not just by the United States, of course, but as the world's highest per capita producer of CO2 emissions and the second-largest cumulative producer, its policies matter a great deal.

In that light, the president's just-released The All-of-the-Above Energy Strategy as a Path to Sustainable Economic Growth contains some disturbing items. One is the energy-related carbon-dioxide emissions projected for 2040. Although such carbon dioxide emissions have fallen from their pre-recessionary peak of 6.0 billion metric tons, they are projected at 5.5 billion metric tons 25 years from now.

The International Energy Agency estimates that energy- and process-related carbon emissions must be cut in half by 2050 if we are to put ourselves on a +2° path.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Thu May 29, 2014 at 01:05 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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