It has been less than a week since the EPA announced new rules for carbon emissions — rules that are being heralded as the most comprehensive effort to tackle climate change by any sitting U.S. president — but big business groups have been spreading misinformation about these new rules for weeks.
Leading the charge against the administration’s proposals is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest business interest group in the country, and arguably the most well-funded.
Just days before the new rules that will limit the amount of carbon that existing power plants can release were made public, the Chamber released a report predicting that any form of carbon regulation would result in economic chaos for the United States. And this all happened before the Chamber even know what the rules would actually say.
The Chamber’s report issued these dire warnings to Americans, summarized by Think Progress:
Their study determined that it would cost American industry $28.1 billion annually to comply with EPA’s new regulations, that as many as 224,000 jobs would be lost between now and 2030, that the economy would average $50.2 billion lower a year, that Americans would cumulatively pay $289 billion more for electricity over that period, and that they’d lose $586 billion in disposable income.
The U.S. Chamber is attempting to strike at the heart of American fears that it will cost them dearly. Whether it is their job or their hard-earned money, the Chamber wants Americans to be afraid of losing everything they’ve worked so hard to achieve in life.
Back in the land of reality, the Chamber’s claims are easily debunked. To start with, as we’ve previously discussed here on DeSmogBlog, safety regulations create jobs rather than destroy them. Even energy industry CEOs have been willing to admit that this is true in recent years. The EPA’s estimates show that the new standards will create tens of thousands of new jobs, and the administration’s commitment to invest more in renewable energy will add hundreds of thousands of jobs, thus resulting in a net gain of U.S. jobs.
As for the cost of the new standards, the Chamber tells us that the economy will lose $50 billion a year, while American families will lose $586 billion in disposable income while paying an additional $289 billion in utility fees each year. They have offered absolutely no evidence to back up these claims, and that is likely due to the fact that the evidence doesn’t exist.
The EPA estimates that the new standards will cost the industry around $8 billion — a one time cost to bring their plants up to code. That is decisively less than the more than $1 trillion price tag that the Chamber put on the new standards.
You also have to factor in the amount of money saved by the new standards. It is estimated that the new standards will be saving the American economy as much as $30 billion a year by the date of full implementation in 2030.
As for hurting the economy, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, “The EPA has been protecting air quality in the United States for more than 40 years, and in that time we’ve cut pollution by 70 percent and the economy has tripled in size.”
The Chamber certainly doesn’t expect the public to look for the facts in the matter; they just want them to take their word for it. But what the Chamber really didn’t count on was that the businesses they represent would be so embarrassed by the group’s report. From Think Progress:
While not addressing the specific issue, UPS told ThinkProgress that it “belongs to many organizations and while we share common views on some issues, we do not share the same views on all issues.” Verizon, reaffirming its commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility, said, “While we are members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, we generally are not involved in policy issues that do not directly affect our business, such as the regulation of power plants.” Coca-Cola said it has no position on the Chamber’s report, 3M said it is still reviewing it, and Lockheed Martin said that it “has not evaluated the chamber’s report,” noting, “and it’s our understanding that the proposed regulations do not apply to us as it involves power plants.” MGM Resorts, while noting its commitment to clean energy, said it is not able “to claim the authority to comment on the issue of power plant emissions.”
Prudential wrote: “The Chamber does not speak on behalf of Prudential.”
This is also not the first time that the US Chamber has found itself on the wrong side of the climate change fight. In 2009, the Chamber saw a mass exodus of members over their refusal to acknowledge global warming science. Major companies like Apple, Nike (resigned from the Chamber’s board, but still remained members), and Exelon publicly admonished the Chamber for their backwards stance on climate change and pulled their support from the group’s efforts.
Given the latest backlash from corporations, you have to wonder whether or not the business powerhouse has finally gone too far in denying basic science.