Fact checkers blast Chamber’s $289 billion price tag for EPA rule

The Washington Post and PolitiFact are criticizing Republican lawmakers for citing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s cost estimate for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) power plant emissions rule, saying the Chamber study relied on assumptions that proved false.

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus all cited the Chamber study in responding to Monday’s announcement of the EPA proposal, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) cited it in a blog post shortly before the announcement. It predicted a 224,000 reduction in jobs, $289 billion in higher electricity costs and $3,400 increase in power costs per family, among other impacts, from EPA’s rule.

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The Post found that the Chamber’s estimates were based on a 42 percent carbon emissions reduction, when in fact, EPA proposed only a 30 percent decrease.

Matt Letourneu, a spokesman for the Chamber, call that “a big difference … we are going to have to see where the numbers fall.”

The Chamber also assumed that the rule would require carbon capture and sequestration at natural gas-fired power plants. New power generation equipment accounted for $339 billion of the estimated $478 billion in compliance costs in the Chamber’s study.

“Given the significant difference between the emission targets in the proposed rule and the assumptions in the Chamber report, Republicans should have avoided using the Chamber’s numbers in the first place,” the Post said.

The Post gave the claims from the study “four Pinocchios,” the most false rating the paper’s fact checker column gives.

PolitiFact came to a similar conclusion and labeled the claims as “false.”

“That study wrongly assumed the administration would set a benchmark of reducing carbon emissions by 42 percent before 2030. The regulations released June 2 actually put forward a 30 percent reduction within that timeframe,” PolitiFact said. “The chamber itself told PolitiFact its estimates are not based on the goals as announced.”