Tough new standards mandating power plants cut their carbon emissions will actually reduce electric bills and create jobs, the White House argued Monday.
"This proposed rule will, when implemented, save Americans on their electricity bill and significantly reduce the amount of carbon emissions into our air," White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
"This creates opportunities to further invest in renewables and other areas that will enhance our energy independence and create thousands of jobs here in the United States, and we ought to aggressively pursue that in the future, as we have in the past," Carney said.
Republicans have slammed the rules, which would mandate existing power plants cut their carbon emissions 30 percent by 2020. They note that the Environmental Protection Agency admits power plants are likely to close because of the regulations, which members of the GOP say would costs jobs and increase energy prices.
“The president’s plan is nuts, there’s really no more succinct way to describe it," said Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerBoehner: 'Thank God' I wasn't in the middle of election Ryan delays committee assignments until 2017 Lobbying World MORE (R-Ohio) in a statement. "Americans are still asking ‘where are the jobs?’ and here he is proposing rules to ship jobs overseas for years to come. Americans are already paying more for everything and here he is condemning them to higher bills and lower incomes long after he leaves office."
According to the EPA, the regulations could cost between $7.3 billion and $8.8 billion, but would generate some $90 billion in climate and health benefits.
Carney said Monday that the proposed rule would also inspire other countries to reduce their carbon emissions. Critics of the regulations have said they will ultimately prove ineffective because energy consumers like China and India are not adopting similar standards.
"The proposed rule announced today demonstrates U.S. leadership in this important area," Carney said. "I wouldn't predict what specific actions other countries may take, but it stands to reason that leadership by the United States, a demonstration of seriousness of purpose here, will have, at least potentially, positive effects on other nations as collectively we address the global challenge."
Carney also argued previous predictions that environmental regulations would harm job growth had not panned out.
"When America has taken steps to cut pollution and protect public health, opponents of those steps have made dire predictions about destroying jobs and harming the economy, and throughout our history, they've been wrong," Carney said. "When we passed the Clean Air Act to combat smog, they said new pollution standards would decimate the auto industry -- not true. In 1990, when we took steps to stop acid rain, they claimed the lights would go out and businesses around the country would suffer. But the facts tell a different story. The EPA has been protecting air quality in the United States for more than 40 years, and in that time we've cut pollution by 70 percent and the economy has tripled in size."