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Study: EPA Global Warming Rule To Kill Nearly 300,000 Jobs

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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The EPA’s carbon dioxide regulation will could end up destroying nearly four times as many jobs as the agency said it would by 2030. A report by the American Action Forum found that job losses from EPA’s carbon rule could be as high as 296,000.

AAF’s report found the EPA’s rule to fight global warming endangers the viability of more than 90 power plants across the country that produce 50 gigawatts of power. These plant closures, the EPA says, will put 80,000 people out of work by 2030. But once economy-wide impacts are taken into account, some 296,000 jobs could be lost during that time, notes AAF.

“It’s no surprise that EPA’s greenhouse gas rule will eliminate tens of thousands of jobs in the energy sector; the agency admits the rule will cause steep jobs cuts, up to one-fifth of coal generation. But that’s not the entire story,” write AAF energy analysts Sam Batkins and Catrina Rorke.

“The 80,000 in possible job losses could easily translate into more than 296,000 jobs throughout the economy and $29 billion in employment costs,” Batkins and Rorke add. “EPA might tout the benefits of its proposal, but the significant job losses are just as noteworthy.”

The EPA’s carbon dioxide regulation is set to be finalized this summer and would force states to cut power plant emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The rule has already been challenged by at least a dozen states — oral arguments were actually heard Thursday.

The Obama administration has spun the regulation as one that will spur green energy development, reduce carbon dioxide emissions and improve public health as the power sector shuts down coal plants. But the administration has obscured the fact their own estimates show about 80,000 job losses from power plant closures alone.

But AAF points out that secondary job impacts — those outside jobs that also depend on power plants =– could be as high as 296,000. This is about “the population of Cincinnati, Ohio and more than the total number of jobs the economy created in February 2015.”

Given the high costs, some Republican lawmakers have encouraged states not to implement the global warming rules because they could be overturned in the courts or by a subsequent administration.

“Don’t be complicit in the administration’s attack on the middle class,” wrote Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “Think twice before submitting a state plan — which could lock you in to federal enforcement and expose you to lawsuits — when the administration is standing on shaky legal ground and when, without your support, it won’t be able to demonstrate the capacity to carry out such political extremism.”

Republicans have also suggested using the Congressional Review Act to stop the rule from going forward. But so far, lawmakers have done little to actually prevent the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide emissions.

As for state legal challenges to the rule, it’s unclear which way the courts will lean. Two of the three federal judges presiding over oral arguments Thursday were skeptical of allowing states to challenge a rule before it’s been finalized.

“Do you know of any case in which we’ve altered a proposed rule-making,” Judge Thomas Griffith asked West Virginia’s solicitor general Thursday during oral arguments.

“For us to get in the middle of this before that happens is highly unusual,” echoed Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

But Judge Karen Henderson seemed open to the idea of allowing the challenge to proceed saying the EPA has already made up its mind to proceed this way despite not having finalized the rule.

“I see a closed mind in terms of the legal issue,” Henderson said. “That’s not going to change with the comments.”

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