President Barack Obama’s plan to use regulations to curb carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants could result in the U.S. economy adding jobs -- not losing them -- as well as lower electricity rates, according to an analysis released by an environmental group that favors the rules.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, which proposed a plan in December to curb greenhouse gases from power plants, said today that its analysis showed that Obama can make good on his pledge last week to curtail the emissions blamed for global warming without harming the U.S. economy.
“To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we must act now, but we must do so in a way that creates and maintains quality jobs for American workers,” David Foster, executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance, a group of unions and environmental groups, said in a statement accompanying the report.
Obama made curtailing carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants the centerpiece of a plan he unveiled June 25 to address global warming. That plan, according to Republican lawmakers and representatives of coal producers, could end up undercutting the American economy by curtailing the use of low-cost coal and increasing electricity rates.
“The president views this as a legacy issue, and on this point he and I agree,” Mike Duncan, the president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, said in speech on June 26. “But that legacy is going to be higher energy costs, less reliable electricity, lost jobs and a shattered economy.”
The NRDC’s analysis of its plan is meant to show that needn’t be the case. Its proposal from December would give states leeway to use energy efficiency and changes in dispatch away from coal plants to reduce carbon dioxide. That flexibility is key to making the plan work, according to the New York-based group.
According to its report, by a pair of NRDC staff members, if the group’s plan were implemented it would result in an net increase of 210,000 jobs in the U.S. with workers installing carbon-capture technologies, efficiency systems and clean-energy projects, and a lower average residential electricity bill of 90 cents a month as less power is consumed. It won’t affect gross domestic product, the researchers concluded.
“Energy efficiency is the primary means for reducing carbon under NRDC’s proposal,” the report said. “Power companies can earn credit toward compliance for avoided pollution by helping their customers use less electricity,” which is cheaper than building new plants or retrofitting existing ones, it said.
The group says that if the new standards it calls for were put in place, carbon emissions from plants would decline 26 percent over this decade from 2005 levels. Annual costs would amount to about $4 billion in 2020, and estimated benefits from “saving lives and reducing the risks of catastrophic climate change” would range from $25 billion to $60 billion.
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