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US Chamber of Commerce Blog

Sean Hackbarth  States Opposing EPA's Clean Power Plan Face Massive Burden

Put EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) on the growing list of actions taken by President Barack Obama’s administration that has divided the country.

After EPA’s released its set of regulations intended to cut carbon emissions from the power sector, states took the federal government to court. Soon after, another group of states came out supporting the plan.

Those states fighting the CPP won a stay on the plan from the Supreme Court until legal issues are settled.

As of this moment, 28 states are challenging the Clean Power Plan in court, while only 18 states support it. But there’s an important difference between the two sides.

The states opposing the plan will be required to come up with 81% of the total carbon emissions, while the states backing the CPP have to come up with only 10%.

Simply put, some states have more skin in the game.

States fighting the CPP rely more on affordable, abundant coal for electricity, know they’ll be the biggest losers, and so have a lot more at stake than the states defending the CPP.

The U.S. Chamber, along with 166 state and local chambers of commerce and business associations from 40 states, support those 28 states fighting the CPP.

Here are three other ways of looking at the data:

Texas, which loves to brag that it’s “like a whole other country,” has a point. Under the CPP, Texas is required to reduce carbon emissions by 51 million tons—nearly as much as the 57 million tons of reductions required by the 18 EPA-defending states combined! Nine states will be allowed to increase their carbon emissions rate from 2020 to 2030. Eight of them support the Clean Power Plan. [New Jersey is the wise exception.] Two states, Hawaii and Vermont, don’t have to reduce their emissions at all, but are all aboard defending the CPP in court.

It’s easy for a state to take a symbolic stand when it has little to lose, and in fact may even gain if the economic advantages of affordable energy in neighboring states are eliminated. EPA’s regulatory overreach will mean higher energy costs for families and fewer jobs that will harm local economies. That’s not healthy for United States job and economic growth.

Eric Nelson Photo credit: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

In Canada, the United States has no greater friend as our two countries share much more than just the world’s longest and most productive border.

We share core values and a commitment to free trade, a level playing field and open markets. And, of course, there are all those cultural ties. (Sure, they play a different style of football – CFL vs. NFL – but there is always hockey. And find me an American who doesn’t like Canadian rock band Rush and their ode to that all-American boy Tom Sawyer.) 

A day after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, we wanted to take a chance to note the close connection between the two countries.

A good place to start: trade.

“More than $750 billion in goods and services cross over our border annually, making the United States Canada’s largest trading partner. ...

"Canada is the top U.S. export market in the world. In addition, our nations’ supply chains and workforces our deeply interwoven and interdependent, particularly in critical sectors like automotive, information technology and energy production.”

By the way, Alberta, Canada, leads the way as an American oil supplier.

From 2014: "Alberta ships 2.5 million barrels of oil a day to the U.S."

Additionally, "Canada offers us some important lessons in policy and results."

“From 2001 – 2010, Canada grew faster than any other G-7 country. This growth was the result of a diversified economy, its foundations built upon low corporate taxes, prudent fiscal management and financial regulation; a business climate that rewards innovation and entrepreneurship; and an open economy that welcomes foreign direct investment.”

We can even learn a little from our neighbors to the north when it comes to regulatory reform.

Our neighbor to the north came up with one way to lasso in the Regulatory State. Since 2012, Canadian federal regulators have been operating under a “One-for-One” rule.

Canada is a partner in innovation.

 “Canada and the United States must lead the way in innovation and embrace the opportunity to create the jobs of the future,” Trudeau said Thursday. “This is North America. We don’t fear the future, we invent it. We don’t worry about the new economy, we create it.”

And speaking of North America ...

Since 1994, trade with Canada and Mexico has risen nearly fourfold to $1.3 trillion in 2014, and the two countries buy one-third of all U.S. merchandise exports. Trade with Mexico and Canada supports 14 million jobs. Five million of these came from increases in trade because of NAFTA.



Sean Hackbarth Retired coal miner Jimmy Smith takes a break while chopping firewood in Totz, Kentucky.Retired coal miner Jimmy Smith takes a break while chopping firewood in Totz, Kentucky. Photo credit: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg.

Because of previous EPA regulation, states in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic have witnessed thousands of coal-related jobs cut. “Combine coal extraction losses with coal generation declines nationwide and the coal industry has lost more than 47,500 jobs already, with the promise of more to come by 2030,” Sam Batkins of the American Action Forum wrote in 2015.

According to Batkins, EPA expects the Clean Power Plan to cost as much as 34,000 jobs by 2030.

As you can see in the five charts below, even with the Supreme Court putting a pause on any work on the Clean Power Plan while legal issues are settled, administration anti-coal policies are costing jobs.

1. Since 2008, 19,000 coal mining jobs have disappeared nationwide.

u-s-coal-mining-jobs.png  2007-2015U.S. coal mining jobs: 2007-2015
2. In Kentucky 37% of coal mining jobs have vanished since 2008.

kentucky-coal-mining-jobs.png  2007-2014Kentucky coal mining jobs: 2007-2014
3. In West Virginia, 5,200 coal mining jobs have been lost since 2011.

west-virginia-coal-mining-jobs.png  2007-2014West Virginia coal mining jobs: 2007-2014
4. In Pennsylvania, almost 1,100 fossil fuel electric power jobs (includes coal) have vanished since 2008.

pennsylvania-fossil-fuel-electric-power-jobs.png  2007-2014Pennsylvania fossil fuel electric power jobs: 2007-2014
5. In Ohio, nearly 1,400 fossil fuel electric power jobs have been lost since 2008.

ohio-fossil-fuel-electric-power-jobs.png  2007-2014Ohio fossil fuel electric power jobs: 2007-2014

If EPA wins its legal battle and the Clean Power Plan is fully implemented, it will be tough for anyone whose job revolves around coal.

Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on August 4, 2015.