The Obama administration on Monday unveiled historic new regulations aimed at cutting carbon emissions as much as 30% from 2005 levels by 2030.
Republicans say the new rule will hurt the economy, hindering job growth at gas- and coal-powered plants while costing companies millions of dollars. Many Democrats and President Barack Obama argue it will help the economy and provide public-health benefits.
How much will the new rule actually cost? Depends on who you ask.
The official cost estimate of the Environmental Protection Agency, which supports the regulation, is an annual cost increase of $US7.3 billion to $US8.8 billion. Meanwhile, the EPA says that by the time the rule is fully implemented in 2030 it could yield a “public-health benefit” of between $US55 billion and $US93 billion per year.
Because of the reduction of pollutants like sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and soot from the air, the EPA says the new regulations will prevent up to 6,600 premature deaths, based on two studies showing survival rates declining with more exposure to atmospheric particulate matter.
The EPA also estimates 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks among children. That’s because asthmatics, with already-inflamed airways are more sensitive to the effects of pollutants like sulfur dioxide.
On the other side, Republicans have passed around a study commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The study looked at the effects of a larger cut — up to a 42% carbon-emission reduction from 2005 levels by 2030. It found the net cost to the economy is an annual loss of 224,000 jobs and about a 0.2% reduction in annual gross domestic product, or about $US51 billion.
The Chamber-commissioned study also said electricity bills could rise by nearly $US300 billion through 2030:
The Chamber of Commerce’s study was quickly and forcefully rebutted by the EPA, which took the unusual step of issuing a response via a blog post. The EPA’s Tom Reynolds pointed out a major assumption in the Chamber-commissioned study is that the EPA would require carbon capture and sequestration for new natural gas plants to meet their targets for emission reductions.
The actual proposal allows states some flexibility in how to meet their goals — for example, by installing new wind and solar or energy-efficiency technology, or by beginning or joining state and regional “cap and trade” programs.
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