New NRDC Climate Analysis: Nation Can Create Jobs and Save on Electricity Bills while Cutting Carbon Pollution from Power Plants
State-specific findings co-released with labor, business groups show job creation and lower bills in FL, IL, MI, MT, NH, NC, OH, OR, PA and VA
WASHINGTON (July 2, 2013) - The nation can significantly cut carbon pollution from power plants, the centerpiece of President Obama's climate action plan, while adding thousands of new jobs and saving families money on their electric bills, according to a new analysis released by the Natural Resources Defense Council and business and labor groups.
Countering critics' charges, the NRDC analysis shows that the carbon pollution driving climate change can be reined in while creating a net increase of at least 210,000 jobs and modestly reducing electricity bills, by an average of about $.90 per month.
"For the sake of our children's future, we have an obligation to fight back against climate change, which is already damaging and disrupting our communities," said Dan Lashof, director of NRDC's Climate and Clean Air Program. "The nation must curb the largest source of climate-changing pollution pouring into our skies, without any limits, from coal-fired power plants. And the good news is we can while creating more than 200,000 new jobs, trimming electricity bills and helping our economy."
NRDC also examined how such standards would affect 14 states across the country with their varying sources of energy. The analysis found that in Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Virginia jobs would increase and electric bills would decrease. Colorado, Iowa and Minnesota would see job gains, and Maine residents would save on their electric bills.
The study for NRDC was done by Synapse Energy Economics, Inc.-widely used by industry and government-which was asked to analyze the economic impact of a plan NRDC released in December 2012. That plan shows how the administration could use the Clean Air Act to achieve major reductions in dangerous carbon pollution from the nation's power plants.
Lashof discussed the analysis that was co-released during a telephone press conference today, along with Celia Canfield, Chair, Board of Directors of Small Business Majority, and David Foster, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance.
"Small business owners are eager for pragmatic, innovative energy policies that can help them develop new technologies and increase business opportunities," said Canfield, whose group represents small businesses nationwide. "They understand that to survive in this tough economy they need creative solutions to curb costs and increase their competitive edge. These include continued government investments in clean energy and the enforcement of standards that reduce harmful emissions in their communities, which our opinion polling shows they strongly support. Right now, giving small businesses the incentives and tools needed to drive job creation and increase market competitiveness should be a top priority."
Foster, whose group unites 14 unions and major environmental organizations, said: "This report shows what we have known to be true: a well-crafted carbon pollution standard can be part of the solution to drive innovation and job creation while also reducing dangerous carbon pollution. "In order 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. This report shows how we can begin to achieve just that."
The new analysis comes a week after President Obama announced a major climate action plan and said the nation has an obligation to our children and future generations to act against the ravages of climate change.
The president unveiled a multi-part climate action strategy that includes directing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to complete new pollution standards for both new and existing power plants, and do so in a way providing flexibility to different states and build on actions many states, cities and companies are already taking.
Today, the nation's existing power plants are the single largest source of carbon pollution that is driving climate change. They emit about 2.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year, accounting for about 40 percent of the nation's total carbon dioxide emissions.
While there are federal limits for power plants on arsenic, mercury, sulfur and soot, surprisingly, there are no federal limits on how much carbon pollution they emit.
The Clean Air Act gives EPA the authority and responsibility to reduce this pollution to protect Americans from harmful health impacts and climate disruption that is fueling stronger storms, wildfires, floods, heat waves and drought.
In December 2012, NRDC issued a report showing one way to make major reductions in carbon pollution at lower cost with bigger benefits than many would expect by using the Clean Air Act to set state-specific targets for carbon pollution limits. The NRDC plan proposes tailoring pollution limits to the specific energy mix of each individual state; giving utilities flexibility to determine the most cost-effective way to hit the target and would save families on their electric bills by providing incentives to increase energy efficiency.
Doing so, could cut power plant carbon pollution by 26 percent by 2020 at a cost to industry estimated at $4 billion in 2020: about 1 percent of industry revenues. And it would deliver up to $15 in health and climate benefits for every $1 invested.
The NRDC proposal is not the only way to curb power plant pollution, but it is one of several options EPA is expected to consider as it writes its proposal in response to the president's directive.
The Synapse analysis of NRDC's plan shows that, nationally, energy efficiency upgrades would be the key driver of new job growth. Power companies could earn credit toward compliance with new standards through avoided pollution and by helping their customers use less electricity. There would be some job decreases at older power plants compared to business-as-usual, but there also would be job growth as plants installed new burners or carbon capture and storage technology.