Study: EPA climate rule would create jobs

The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions at power plants will end up creating more jobs than it cuts, according to a new analysis of the proposed rule. 

EPA's Clean Power Plan would require existing power plants to cut their greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a cleaner supply of energy. The EPA has previously estimated that the plan would create 120,000 jobs by 2020 but lead to 24,000 job loses as plants move away from fossil fuel energy sources. 

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An Economic Policy Institute report released Tuesday said the jobs both lost and gained would have "a substantial ripple effect" in other industries. The plan would lead to a net increase of 360,000 new jobs by 2020, the report said. 

By 2030, the deadline for state compliance with Clean Power Plan greenhouse gas reduction targets, the plan's employment benefits will have wained, to the point where it would have created a net increase of 24,342 jobs total.

The report, written by Josh Bivens, the research and policy director at the Economic Policy Institute, also warned that consumers and employers could be caught off-guard by higher electricity rates under the plan, possibly threatening between 25,000 and 150,000 jobs. 

Job losses are likely to be “geographically concentrated,” Bivens wrote. While he described the plan’s impact on employment as “small (and positive),” he wrote that, “the concentration of job dislocations and the composition of jobs in the losing industries suggest that policymakers should consider complementary policies to adjust and to blunt some of the less desirable outcomes of the rule.”

The impact of the climate rule on employment has been a key aspect of the debate over the plan. Republicans, utilities, some labor unions and states with large coal industries have argued the plan would lead to fewer jobs and hit the coal industry especially hard, given its sizable role in American energy production.  

But the EPA has said the plan would lead to innovation in the American energy economy. The plan, the EPA says in a fact sheet, "will keep the United States — and more importantly our businesses — at the forefront of a global movement to produce and consume energy in a better, more sustainable way. And it will make the United States a world leader in addressing climate change."