Green group: Obama climate rule will save consumers $37 billion


A national environmental group on Thursday touted the Obama administration's coming proposal for carbon limits on existing power plants, saying it would save consumers $37.4 billion once they fully take effect.

The rule, which the administration is expected to unveil Monday, would save consumers billions on their electric bills in 2020, according to the analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The green group also said the first standards on carbon pollution for existing coal-fired power plants would create over 274,000 jobs.

NRDC's findings are far different than a U.S. Chamber report released Wednesday, which estimated the coming rule would cost the U.S. up to $50 billion per year.

The carbon limits, which are the centerpiece of President Obama's climate change agenda, are expected to receive severe backlash from Republicans.

NRDC's study said the thousands of potential jobs would come from a surge in energy efficiency investments spurred by the rule. Once the goal is set, utilities will have flexibility on which method to use to reach the emissions reduction targets.

States are expected to have the ability to maintain a cap-and-trade program if they have one already in place, or pursue renewable energy sources like wind and solar to cut back on fossil-fuel emissions. That could lead to more jobs for electricians, roofers, carpenters, and insulation workers, NRDC said.

"Most Americans support curbing dangerous carbon pollution from power plants because it's the right thing to do. Cleaning up dirty power plants can be a bonanza for public health and a boon for energy efficiency jobs - and save Americans on their electric bills," said Daniel Lashof, a senior fellow at NRDC.

The Chamber report suggested otherwise, calculating that as many as 224,000 jobs would be eliminated annually through 2030.

NRDC's report, conducted by ICF International, also estimated the U.S. would be able to slash carbon pollution by 531 million tons a year by 2020.

The White House has yet to confirm the level of carbon limits the EPA plans to set in its proposal.