With any kind of electoral luck this year and — especially — in 2016, the rule rolled by the Environmental Protection Agency Monday will come to be known as a nonbinding recommendation or, even better, a well-intentioned suggestion.
As it stands, the proposal to reduce U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2030 (with the lion’s share — 25 percent — achieved by 2020) from 2005 levels almost certainly stands to make good on then-candidate Barack Obama’s vow, issued without apology or equivocation in January 2008, to punish any American foolish enough to use electricity were he elected and able to impose his cap-and-trade policy.
With power plants producing the second-most CO2 in the nation (behind Texas), Floridians will especially feel the financial pinch of the EPA’s new rule.
Never mind the EPA’s own back-of-the-envelope fantasy that, when fully implemented, the average electricity bill will shrink 8 percent. This, remember, comes from the administration that promised families passage of the Affordable Care Act would cause their health insurance premiums to plummet $2,500. We’ve seen how that windfall not only failed to materialized, in the vast majority of cases, premium costs surged.
Agency bureaucrats are projecting a perfect blend of new efficiencies and less usage, which is another way of saying they’re counting on price-conscious consumers to have shelled out for advanced appliances, more insulation and ever-more-efficient windows in their increasingly small houses or apartments, all the while constantly tending their thermostats.
Meanwhile, power companies and their consumer-friendly allies (not to mention labor unions) project a much bleaker outcome:
“Today’s regulations issued by EPA add immense cost and regulatory burdens on America’s job creators,” Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Donohue said in a statement after the rule was announced. “They will have a profound effect on the economy, on businesses, and on families. The Chamber will be actively participating in EPA’s input process on these regulations, and will be educating our members and affiliates about their impacts.”
The United Mine Workers of America are also none too pleased, as union President Cecil Roberts made abundantly clear:
“The proposed rule … will lead to long-term and irreversible job losses for thousands of coal miners, electrical workers, utility workers, boilermakers, railroad workers and others without achieving any significant reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions,” Roberts said in a statement.
According to a UMWA analysis, Roberts said, the rule will cause 75,000 job losses in the coal sector by 2020, rising to 152,000 by 2035.
“When a U.S. government economic multiplier used to calculate the impact of job losses is applied to the entire economy, we estimate that the total impact will be about 485,000 permanent jobs lost,” Roberts said.
Other studies have also found that the rule will lead to significant job losses. An analysis commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that the regulations will “lead to an average of 224,000 fewer U.S. jobs every year through 2030.”
Again, this is another phone-and-pen flanking maneuver by the Obama administration that can be defused by an aroused and reconstituted Congress in 2015, but it will most likely require a party change in the White House to make the rule’s most onerous implications go away entirely.