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Carbon dioxide emissions aren't visible, but they're there.
It's not unusual for elected Republicans to base public statements on "studies" from the Heritage Foundation, or Heartland Institute or Chamber of Commerce. So, when Gina McCarthy announced the Environmental Protection Agency's emissions limiting rule for existing power plants Monday, it was no surprise to see Republicans spouting and tweeting numbers from the chamber's 66-page study on how the rule would wreck the economy.

Just one problem: the chamber study wasn't based on a number that appears in the EPA's rule. As a consequence, those Republicans cluck-clucking on the supposedly horrific impact of the rule were wrong. Since anybody in a position of authority following the subject should have known better, Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post's Fact Checker, awarded these Republicans four Pinocchios. That's the Fact Checker's "Whopper" category.

Here's an example of what prompted that: Rep. Marsha Blackburn pulling numbers directly from the chamber "study," or more likely the press release on it:

Hundreds of thousands jobs lost,  household income down $586 billion & electricity costs up over $289 billion.
Eager to shape the narrative early on, the chamber released its study five days ahead of the EPA's presentation of the emissions rule. It did so by focusing on work done by the Natural Resources Defense Council, some of whose ideas provided foundation for the new rule. But when it came to choosing how large a percentage of emissions would be cut under the rule, the chamber didn't pick the 26 percent the NRDC had done. It picked 42 percent, a percentage the administration hinted at back in 2009.

Please read below the fold for more on this story.

But when the EPA's rule was announced, the reduction was set at 30 percent of the 2005 base tally of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.

So the chamber's study by its Institute for 21st Century Energy was based on a figure nearly a third higher than the actual one, meaning the claims that it and Republican lawmakers made about 224,000 lost jobs and $51 billion a year in lowered gross domestic product and $289 billion in higher electric bills were way off.

Which doesn't mean anybody should assume that the only problem with the chamber study is a math flaw caused by the timing of its release. The EPA rule will spur growth in clean energy sources and energy efficiency, which means more jobs, more economic growth and less electricity consumption.

Over the next few months, we'll no doubt be hearing a good deal more about alleged costs and benefits of the EPA's rule. The truth is that, even with the best intentions, it's difficult to predict what the precise impact of an untried regulation will be. Particularly when the energy arena is undergoing a massive transformation. The chamber, of course, didn't have the best of intentions.

It would be a good thing if the EPA had picked 42 percent. Given the gravity of the global warming crisis, doing more now is an investment in a clean-energy future and in perhaps preventing some of the worst effects of climate chaos. Pressuring for greater reductions to happen sooner is something citizens should be focusing on during the 120-day public comment on the EPA rule.

Public comments can be made here. The week of July 28, there will be hearings in four cities, Atlanta, Denver, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 10:16 AM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots and Daily Kos.

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