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New EPA rules will hurt Pa.

By: Tom Pyle |

President Obama promised in 2008 that his environmental policies would make electricity prices “necessarily skyrocket,” and earlier this month his administration unveiled its plan to deliver on his word. Starting next year, the Environmental Protection Agency will force Pennsylvania’s power plants to cut their carbon emissions by 32 percent. The administration claims that this will save the planet and even create jobs.

This is merely a slick sales pitch with no connection to reality.

The regulations’ real effects will be job losses, higher prices for electricity and everyday goods, and less economic growth. Meanwhile, the EPA itself admits that your economic pain will do almost nothing for the climate.

The misinformation begins with the president’s promise that this mandate will “leave our children a safer and more stable world.” This is nothing but a poll-tested marketing ploy. The EPA’s own climate model shows that this new regulation would reduce global temperatures by a meager 0.02 degrees Celsius by 2100 – a statistically meaningless amount.

The environment won’t be better off, but the economy will be ravaged.

The extent of the damage is unclear, largely because the EPA has been less than transparent throughout this process. The agency has released contradictory statements on how much states will be forced to cut emissions. A recent study by the Chamber of Commerce measures impact using a 42 percent reduction, a number previously discussed by the administration.

Either way, Pennsylvania, which generates 44 percent of its electricity from coal, will be hard hit. The EPA rules mandate that the state reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent (every state’s number is different). In order to meet this goal, the state will have to close down low-cost existing power plants and force utilities to purchase electricity from new sources, which are almost always more expensive.

Both moves will be reflected in your electricity bill. In the chamber report, your disposable income would decrease by $200 next year, and up to nearly $400 a year within a decade.

These higher costs don’t just affect families – they affect our workplaces as well. When employers pay more for energy, they have less money to spend on their employees. Small businesses grappling with higher energy costs are often forced to lay off employees in order to stay afloat. The chamber estimates that Pennsylvania and its neighbors could lose up to 13,700 jobs a year.

Higher costs and fewer jobs ultimately mean lower economic output, and thus less wealth for middle-class Americans. Over the next decade, the chamber estimates that as much as $7.5 billion in new wealth will be lost every year in the Middle Atlantic region, which includes Pennsylvania. Nationally, the country could be $50 billion poorer every year.

The unwillingness of the EPA and the president to address the impact of these new rules honestly means that the Chamber of Commerce report is the best analysis of them. It is undeniable that the EPA rules will mean less income, fewer jobs, and less wealth for Pennsylvanians. And it is equally undeniable that your pain will not be the climate’s gain – the EPA knows it but just won’t say it.

Remember all this the next time the president or any other politician claims he or she is saving the world and protecting our children. This is as false as “If you like your health-care plan, you can keep it.” The EPA regulations are a war on middle-class jobs, the economy, and affordable energy. Pennsylvanians will be the casualties.