If the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back the Clean Power Plan (CPP) are successful, the nation could miss out on 560,000 potential jobs and a boost of $52 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP), according to a report released by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2).
“From states with relatively small populations like Maine and Montana to highly populated states like Florida, the CPP could have substantial employment and economic benefits — benefits that would disappear with the Trump Administration’s repeal of the policy,” the June 21 report says.
The CPP has been a thorn in the side of coal proponents since it was proposed in 2014. The rule requires states to develop action plans to meet state-specific, federally-set carbon emissions reduction goals for existing coal-fired power plants.
According to the E2 report, implementation of the CPP would result in the creation of up to 560,000 jobs and add up to $52 billion to the nation’s GDP. Those benefits will be lost if the rule is weakened or rescinded, the report says. “Additionally, rolling back the CPP will likely reduce investments in energy efficiency programs, resulting in the loss of further economic benefits from lower electricity bills and increased efficiency investments in our homes, offices, schools and other buildings,” the report says.
The report considered three CPP compliance scenarios: two “mass-based” approaches and one “rate-based” approach. “In all three scenarios, states were assumed to adopt the same policy design (e.g. all ‘rate’ or ‘mass’) and to participate in a national trading scheme, except for the nine Northeastern states already participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional carbon market, and California, which has a state carbon market,” the report explains
The best performing scenario would be a mass-based system with 2% annual electricity saved as a percent of retail sales through incremental electric energy efficiency investments. The poorest performing scenario was a mass-based system with 1% annual electricity saved as a percent of retail sales through incremental electric energy efficiency investments. A rate-based system with 1% annual electricity saved as a percent of retail sales through incremental electric energy efficiency investments scored in the middle.
“[A]t the very least, the CPP would create a minimum of 75,200 jobs and add nearly $14.9 billion to the economy in 2030,” the report says. “At the high end, a well-designed, mass-based approach could deliver an additional 560,000 jobs and $52.1 billion to the economy in 2030.”
The CPP has been surrounded by controversy since its inception. The rule sets unachievable goals and would serve as a death blow to the coal industry, according to those who oppose it. Even before the rule was finalized, it was challenged in court, where it currently remains. The Supreme Court ordered a stay of the implementation of the rule in February 2016, and in April 2017 the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay of the case against the rule.
Throughout his campaign, President Donald Trump vowed to kill the CPP. However, because the rule is final, the process of doing so is rather complicated. The president took his first step toward meeting that campaign promise on March 28 with the signing of an executive order rolling back a number of Obama-era climate actions. In the order, Trump calls on the Environmental Protection Agency, now led by former Oklahoma Attorney General and longtime CPP opponent, Scott Pruitt, to begin a reevaluation of the rule.
—Abby L. Harvey is a POWER reporter.