As the U.S. energy sector awaits the release of new regulatory proposals from the Administration of President Barack Obama, the Nation’s biggest business lobby warned Wednesday that the new Environmental Protection Agency rules, if adopted, will soon have the energy industry shelling out $50 billion in unnecessary costs every year.
A study released Wednesday by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce asserts that the Administration’s attempt to curb domestic power plants’ carbon emissions levels will cause an annual loss of an estimated 224,000 jobs, annual financial losses of $50 billion and the closure of more than one-third of coal-powered plants — all by 2030.
The EPA is expected to release its draft proposal early next week.
About one-third of the Nation’s electrical power is supplied by power plants that burn coal. The new proposals would be particularly devastating to energy-sector jobs in West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and other States with a coal-based power infrastructure, the report predicts.
Chamber president Karen Harbert told media outlets on Wednesday that the new rules will deliver “a big, economy-wide hit” when implemented.
“You start looking at close to home there in West Virginia, you’re looking at — on an annual basis in the South Atlantic, it includes Appalachia — a $10 billion hit every year and 60,000 jobs lost every year,” Harbert said. “… If we show what this does to our economy, is any other country going to want to follow us when they look at the type of job losses and economic losses? That would scare them into doing, probably, the exact opposite. The idea that the United States can come in and just solve this problem on its own is just absolutely incorrect.”
At issue in the new proposals is an aggressive cap-in-trade rule that opponents believe will punish energy companies and consumers barely achieving measurable results on carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Power companies could bend the rules to meet their EPA emissions requirements by trading emissions credits or participating in government incentives to adopt (and pay for) renewable-energy technology.
The study concludes that consumers would pay nearly $300 billion in higher energy costs over the next 15 years, even though overall emissions will decline by less than 2 percent — and global emissions from burgeoning, energy-hungry countries will continue to rise.