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GOP's EPA Attacks Discredited

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As soon as the Environmental Protection Agency issued a new proposal Monday calling for a 30 percent reduction in power plant carbon emissions by 2030, GOP lawmakers unleashed an arsenal of anti-regulation talking points -- most of which turned out to be completely false.

A chorus of claims on potential job losses and skyrocketing electric bills earned Republicans “four Pinocchios” from The Washington Post Fact Checker on Tuesday for citing an outdated May 28 study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

In an Energy and Commerce Committee statement Monday, Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) claimed that the new regulation “would cost the economy 224,000 jobs and $289 billion in higher electricity costs through 2030.”

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), ranking member on the Environment and Public Works Committee, echoed the sentiment Monday, adding that “a rule such as the one released today would decrease a family’s disposable income by $3,400 per year and increase their electricity bills by $200.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) also cited debunked figures from the Chamber report on potential job losses Monday, accusing the president of promoting a plan that “would indeed cause a surge in electricity bills -- costs stand to go up $17 billion every year.”

Based on the same shaky data from the Chamber of Commerce, the National Republican Senatorial Committee also launched a robocall campaign Tuesday that attacked vulnerable Democratic incumbents for their support of the EPA’s proposed carbon limits.

The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler reports:

Note that the EPA rule said that the agency would seek a reduction of 30 percent. But on page 15 of the Chamber report, the Chamber says it assumed the rule would impose a 42 percent reduction: “The 42% emissions reduction figure was chosen because, to date, it remains the only publicly announced Administration GHG [Greenhouse Gas protocol] reduction goal for 2030. The Administration has not said whether or how this goal might be modified."

“It’s a big difference,” Matt Letourneau, senior director for communications and media at the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, which produced the study, admitted to the Post on Tuesday. “We are going to have to see where the numbers fall.”

The Chamber report's use of the 42 percent figure further resulted in "false notes" and unwarranted assumptions on the EPA requiring new natural gas facilities to have carbon capture technology. According to the proposal itself:

The EPA did not identify full or partial CCS as the BSER [best system of emission reduction] for new natural gas-fired stationary combustion turbines, noting technical challenges to implementation of CCS at NGCC [natural gas combined cycle] units as compared to implementation at new solid fossil fuel-fired sources. The EPA also noted that, because virtually all new fossil fuel-fired power projects are projected to use NGCC technology, requiring full or partial CCS would have a greater impact on the price of electricity than requiring CCS at the few projected coal plants, and the larger number of NGCC projects would make a CCS requirement difficult to implement in the short term.

Consequently, based on the unsubstantiated assumption that there would be a need for more expensive carbon capture plants, the Chamber further presumed that $339 billion of the $478 billion in estimated compliance costs would stem from building new power plants.

“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 concluded, criticizing GOP lawmakers for ignoring more updated reports on the issue. “We understand that they believe the negative impact will outweigh any positive impact but even by the Chamber’s admission, these numbers do not apply at all to the EPA rule as written.”

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