The White House has released a major report on the economic costs of not immediately acting to curb global warming — coincidentally, on the same day the Environmental Protection Agency kicked off hearings on its controversial rule to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.
Environmentalists and Democrats planning on testifying will no doubt benefit from the White House’s conveniently released report, which says that not acting immediately to cut carbon dioxide emissions would reduce the global economy by 0.9 percent if average global temperatures rise 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
“Moreover, these costs are not one-time, rather they recur year after year because of the permanent damage caused by increased climate change resulting from the delay,” warns the report by the White House Council of Economic Advisors.
The EPA’s new carbon dioxide rule would force states to reduce emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent by 2030. The Obama administration said the rule would help public health and help stem global warming — but not by much.
Critics have pointed out that the EPA’s carbon rule would do little to nothing to impact global warming. The carbon rule would only reduce atmospheric concentrations greenhouse gas emissions less than one percent and stem global temperature rises by 0.016 degrees Fahrenheit.
Even the White House Council of Economic Advisers report notes that meeting “stringent climate targets with action from only one country or a small group of countries is difficult or impossible, making international coordination of policies essential.” But the report adds that “even if a delay in international mitigation efforts occurs, unilateral or fragmented action reduces the costs of delay: although immediate coordinated international action is the least costly approach, unilateral action is less costly than doing nothing.”
The Obama administration says that the EPA’s rule would bring “climate and health benefits worth an estimated $55 billion to $93 billion in 2030.” But before 2030, the rule will raise electricity prices 6 or 7 percent and force the shutdown of coal-fired power plants across the country.
Democrats and environmentalists heralded the report as more evidence of the need to act now to cut carbon dioxide emissions, which are blamed for causing global warming.
“This report by leading economists confirms that the longer Congress waits to take action to reduce dangerous carbon pollution, the more staggering the costs will be, and delaying steps to address climate change will end up costing us more in the long run,” California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer said in a statement.
But the report has not deterred opponents of the Obama administration’s climate agenda who argue that efforts to tackle global warming will hurt the economy while doing nothing for the planet.
“Local communities that benefit from low-cost coal-based electricity and coal-related industries have been silenced in this debate, and hard-working Americans not only in places like West Virginia and Kentucky, but across the entire U.S., have been denied the opportunity to shape policies that put their local economies in jeopardy, while environmental special interest groups get preferred status,” said Laura Sheehan, spokeswoman for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.
In light of the huge impact this rule will have on the economy, the EPA has kicked off public field hearings across the country this week. About 1,600 people have been allowed to testify before EPA officials in Atlanta, Denver, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.
Environmentalists, power companies, politicians and lobbyists will tell the EPA and members of the public their thoughts on the upcoming rules.
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