Climate bill could cost 2 million jobs

Add another climate bill cost estimate to the growing pile.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF) released a study Wednesday that found under a high-cost scenario the House global warming bill could reduce economic growth by 2.4 percent and cost 2 million jobs by 2030.

Environmentalists were quick to criticize the study for underselling the development of climate-friendly sources of power and not releasing other assumptions NAM and ACCF fed into the computer model to get their economic forecast, which takes more of a glass-half-empty view than recent governmental reports.

But the business groups’ figures will likely provide opponents of capping carbon more ammunition and could add to the angst of senators from industrial states. One key finding is that the climate bill will hurt the manufacturing sector particularly hard. As much as 66 percent of the total job loss from the climate bill could come from manufacturers, the report notes.

And though the impact of the bill will grow over time, the economy will start feeling the effects of the carbon cap almost immediately.

“Industrial production begins to decline immediately in 2012, relative to the baseline,” the report notes.

Tony Kreindler, a spokesman for the Environmental Defense Fund, which supports the climate bill, said the business study is overly pessimistic about the development of nuclear power plants and makes other assumptions that raise the costs of a climate cap. For example, the NAM-ACCF study assumes a relatively small amount of international offsets would be available to businesses to help them meet carbon caps.

Even so, Kreindler criticized the study for its lack of details about exactly what assumptions went into the model.

The report’s executive summary, the only version released publicly, does provide some details about what assumption the study makes, relating to the development of wind and other renewable sources of power and the availability of offsets to help businesses meet their emissions reductions. Modelers also assumed that only 10 to 25 nuclear plants would be built in the next two decades.

The Energy Information Administration, however, assumed 95 plants would be built by 2030, under one scenario.

Margo Thorning, senior vice president and chief economist at ACCF, called that projection “ridiculous” given the expense of building a nuclear plant and the length of time it takes to get a permit from nuclear regulators to move forward with construction.

She said the assumptions used in the NAM-ACCF study were based on information gathered from business leaders and energy experts.  

“We’ve bent over backward to be generous about how quickly new technology can be put in place” that would help minimize the costs of the climate bill, Thorning said.

The ACCF and NAM study can be found here.

Analyses by the EIA, Environmental Protection Agency and Congressional Budget Office can be found here, here and here.

-- This story was updated at 5:23 p.m.