Study: EPA rule cheaper than climate change fallout for automakers

Automakers stand to lose far more money from weather-related disruptions than they do from rising electricity costs under the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed emissions standards for power plants, a new study finds.

The study from Business Forward, a group with ties to the Obama administration, found that energy costs for an entire shift at an auto assembly plant would rise by roughly $1,860 under the draft regulations unveiled this week.

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Losses related to weather related disruptions, meanwhile, could set back a single plant as much as $1.25 million an hour or up to $10 million per shift, the report concluded.

“Automakers and their parts suppliers have built a massive supply chain that is highly specialized, fast moving and global,” the group found. “But these advancements also make supply chains highly interdependent, which makes them vulnerable to climate change.”

The findings come as manufacturers pan the regulations, a central component of President Obama’s initiative to counter the effects of global warming.

National Association of Manufacturers president Jay Timmons predicted the rules, if enacted as proposed, would simply force manufacturers to move overseas to China or other nations with less stringent standards.

“Our nation’s energy security is at stake,” Timmons told reporters this week. “And so is the lifeblood of our economy.”

But the real threat to business, argued the Business Forward report, is increasingly frequent and powerful weather events that have forced companies to shutter for days at a time in recent years.

“When compared to the hours of production auto assembly plants and parts suppliers lose each time severe weather disrupts their supply chains, the cost of EPA standards to address severe weather ... are modest.”