The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan will add more than a quarter of a million jobs to the U.S. economy by 2040, according to a new economic analysis.
Researchers at private consulting firm Industrial Economics and the University of Maryland-based Interindustry Economic Research Fund credit efficiency improvements and lower electricity bills with adding about 273,000 jobs over the next 26 years. The analysts project that the plan will add 74,000 jobs by 2020. The findings support the EPA’s contention that the Clean Power Plan will not hurt the economy.
“Improvements in energy efficiency associated with the Clean Power Plan will reduce demand for electricity and, by extension, reduce electricity costs for households and businesses,” the report states. The projected employment gains are equal to “roughly one month of healthy job gains.”
The report, released earlier this month, flies in the face of claims from pro-coal politicians, regulators, and businesses, who say the Clean Power Plan will raise electricity prices, destroy jobs, and otherwise ruin the American economy. The Clean Power Plan sets limits for allowable levels of carbon emissions from the electricity sector, with an overall goal of reducing electricity sector emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The rule allows states to come up with their own ways to meet those limits.
“Their rules will shutter coal-fueled power plants, putting Americans out of work, but, most importantly, putting the American dream out of reach,” Mike Duncan, president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, said at a press conference last week. Duncan spoke after a Circuit Court of Appeals hearing on a lawsuit brought against the EPA by a coal company and 16 states, including Louisiana.
Louisiana is 31st in the nation in coal power generation, with six operating coal-fired power plants. The Louisiana Public Service Commission has estimated the proposed plan will cost that state between $4 billion and $6 billion between 2020 and 2030, according to Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell.
“The amount of money we are costing our power people… is just horrible,” Caldwell said after the hearing last week.
Coal-fired power plants are responsible for 39 percent of the United States’ electricity generation and three-quarters of the sector’s carbon emissions. It is expected that under the Clean Power Plan, there would be loss of coal-industry jobs, but the researchers found that increased retail spending — including on efficiency projects — and growth in other forms of electricity generation, such as renewables, would more than compensate for the coal job losses.
Proponents of the Clean Power Plan say the benefits are myriad. One study found that by 2020 the Clean Power Plan could prevent 3,500 premature deaths, as well as with 1,000 hospital visits for heart and lung problems, and 220 fewer heart attacks every year.
The EPA is expected to issue the final rule this summer.