Heritage Study: EPA Rules Will Cost 600,000 Jobs, Hit GDP by $2.2T

Thursday, 27 Mar 2014 01:55 PM

By Andrea Billups

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Two recent studies detail how rules on greenhouse gas emissions can have deep — and negative — economic consequences.

An analysis by the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., said new Environmental Protection Agency rules are likely to cost the United States an estimated 600,000 jobs and a $2.23 trillion hit to the GDP by the year 2023.

The gloomy report notes that families will also share in the costs as coal production continues to fall off, power plants close, and energy prices rise.

"If you look at what the EPA is doing, they are essentially promulgating and implementing rules and regulations that will drive out our coal production by prohibiting the construction of new coal-fired power plants and forcing the existing ones into an early retirement," said Nicolas Loris, an economist and senior policy analyst in energy, environment, and regulatory issues, who completed the study for Heritage.

"When you take such affordably reliable sources of energy offline, it's going to squeeze both production and consumption in our economy and it's going to create a rise in prices," Loris told Newsmax. "American families will be hit repeatedly, not just with those higher energy costs but also through higher prices for goods and services because businesses will incur these costs as well and pass them on to consumers."

The EPA plans to finalize new greenhouse gas emissions standards for existing coal plants sometime this year, with standards for new plants expected in June.

Meanwhile, National Economic Research Associates is warning against a new emissions plan drawn up by a national environmental group that it fears will become the basis for EPA regulations.

NERA said a Natural Resources Defense Council's (NRDC) proposal "has received attention as an approach EPA might follow to regulate CO2 emissions from power plants."

But the NRDC plan "could cost consumers $13 billion to $17 billion per year in higher electricity and natural gas prices," NERA said.

"Ratepayers in most states could face double-digit electricity price increases" and the plan would cause "job losses totaling as high as 2.85 million between 2018 and 2033," NERA said.

While the president has been clear that the coal industry is in his crosshairs, it is not simply coal-producing states like West Virginia and Kentucky that will be hit hard.

Manufacturing states like Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois will also feel the pain, Heritage reported.

Breaking the economic impact down by districts, 19 of the 20 hardest hit are located in the Midwest, according to the study.

James M. Van Nostrand, who heads West Virginia University's Center for Energy and Sustainable Development, said the economic impact from the proposed regulations is real and will hurt certain regions of the nation the hardest.

Van Nostrand, a professor of law at WVU, says regulations are likely to come in waves, first hitting the coal extraction and mining industry, then power plants, where job losses will likely occur, and then consumer energy, bringing higher electricity rates that will then harm the manufacturing industry.

"Our region of the country is going to be hit, the Appalachian region and the coal states," Van Nostrand told Newsmax. "The Northwest states will not be harmed at all because there is very little coal-powered industry there. The states that are heavily involved with the extraction industry and have high energy use from coal-fired power plants, they are going to be hit harder."

Among other harsh outcomes that Heritage predicted were about 770 jobs lost per congressional district due to impacts on manufacturing and a drop of income for a family of four of about $1,200 per year.

Natural gas prices are predicted to rise 28 percent by 2030, Heritage researchers noted. States that stand to lose the most jobs are California, Texas, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New York, Indiana, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Georgia.

Van Nostrand said he hopes to create a broader conversation across the states on how EPA regulations should move forward. A Feb. 24 conference at his school looked at how states might create strategies that allow them to come in compliance with the rules, but with the least economic impact.

"You can no longer pretend this isn't going to happen. The president said he is going to do everything he can under administrative order. It is happening. We wanted to kick-start the conversation of what to do," he said.

Lawmakers must step up and work together on a legislative solution, he added.

"I think the failure of Congress to move forward with a comprehensive energy strategy leaves the president to use the tools he has available. It's a blunt instrument. And coal-dependent states are going to get hammered by it," he said. "Nothing has been passed by Congress so we're left with the EPA. Congress needs to step up and pass some energy independence legislation."

Loris agrees that legislation could stymie the regulations. Without it, the president has a clear path to do what he wants to on energy policy.

"I'd like to see Congress step in and prohibit the EPA and the federal agencies from regulating greenhouse gas emissions," Loris said. "We're talking about huge costs to families and on businesses in job growth. And we're talking about negligible claims of impacts as a result of these regulations. From a policy perspective, even if you are concerned, these regulations are not going to move the needle back" on global warming.

Loris said the president moved ahead on his own when cap-and-trade legislation failed in Congress.

"He said there was more than one way to skin a cat. So he's bypassing Congress and moving forward with these regulations that don't need congressional approval," Loris said. "He certainly wants to make climate change one of his legacy items and this is the way he's going do it by regulatory fiat."


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