Jim Jeffords’ New Proposed “Multi-Pollutant” Bill Would Cost Jobs And Billions Of Dollars

BACKGROUND: A Senate hearing was held October 31, 2001 discussing S. 556, the air pollution legislation of Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT), which would force cuts of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, mercury and carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The Environmental Protection Agency forecast that the bill would raise electricity prices in 2015 by 32-50 percent and cause coal fired electricity generation to decrease between 25 and 35 percent. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) concludes that, under this legislation, the GDP would be reduced by .8 percent in 2007 or about $100 billion with a loss of about one million jobs.

TEN SECOND RESPONSE: These reports show that the cost of drastically reducing emissions from power plants is billions in economic loss and forcing a million people out of work.

THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: While the EPA says we have cleaned our air considerably, others want to impose more reductions in emissions that would harm the economy and lay off a million workers. President Bush is right to warn that he would veto a bill that would harm the coal industry and raise energy prices, as the economy is already weak.

DISCUSSION: Mary Hutzler, the EIA’s acting administrator, testified that forcing such a sharp reduction in emissions would cause electricity prices to increase by 33 percent and natural gas prices to increase by 20 percent by 2020. To meet the emissions caps, plants must retrofit generators. EIA estimates that GDP would drop $100 billion. You can read her testimony at http://www.senate.gov/~epw/Hutzler_1101.pdf

In order to meet the emissions standards, as the EPA pointed out, coal fired plants must be replaced by natural gas or nuclear power plants. But many in the Senate do not want to open domestic oil and gas fields, especially in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Read the EPA report at http://www.senate.gov/~epw/EPA_Multi-Emissions_Analysis.htm

Exactly how much global warming "gain" would we receive from this proposal? Patrick Michaels, senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute, reports that he ran the United Nations’ computer model on the Jeffords bill and found it would prevent 0.04 degrees F of global warming over the next 50 years. Read his report, "New Energy Bill Is Ruinous During Wartime," at http://www.cato.org/dailys/10-24-01.html

Jeffrey Holmstead, the EPA’s top air official, testified that President Bush "strongly opposes" regulating carbon dioxide and it is thought he would veto a bill containing language that would mandate cuts in CO2.

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