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May 29, 2014

U.S. Chamber Opposition to Forthcoming EPA Greenhouse Gas Regulations Lacks Substance, Wrongly Scapegoats EPA as Cause of Coal’s Decline

Chamber Response Ignores Climate Science, Exaggerates Costs to Economy, and Appears More As a Political Campaign Than Serious Policy Debate

Note: On June 2, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to propose the first-ever national limits on carbon pollution emitted by existing power plants. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is attempting to pre-empt the rules with warnings about their purported effects.

Tyson Slocum, director at Public Citizen’s Energy program:

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is running a political campaign masquerading as a policy shop. Essentially what’s happening here is an industry split: regulated electric utilities (American Electric Power, Dominion Resources, Xcel and more) are saying relatively benign, if not supportive things about the June 2 power plant rule. That’s because states will have broad latitude to meet the greenhouse gas standards through ‘outside the fence’ approaches, such as utility investment in energy efficiency or renewables. Southern, Dominion et al understand that they can work with state legislatures to implement cost-effective compliance measures. They are engaging, not attacking, the EPA process because it is open and fair.

“Contrast this with the Chamber, Heritage Foundation and the extractive coal industry. First, the coal mining industry is largely segregated: Exxon isn’t into coal mining, and Arch Coal isn’t into oil drilling. So as a result, the coal industry is totally isolated and stuck in a dead-end business model. Coal has been eclipsed by superior technologies, just as typewriters were by the computer. But rather than admit failure to their shareholders, their workers and their communities, they’re going to pin the blame on the EPA.

“So what's the Chamber's deal? Easy. The Chamber, increasingly staffed by former GOP political operatives, is attacking the EPA regulations not from a business perspective, but from a purely political one. So they release these wild, inaccurate ‘studies’ attacking the EPA because it fits as their centerpiece of a political campaign to retake the Senate for the GOP in November. They are not interested in engagement (like regulated utilities). They are simply using the EPA as a campaign tool.

“Additionally, the EPA’s emissions targets are fairly modest and don’t meaningfully kick in until 2024, which coincides with the natural retiring ages of some aging coal plants.”

Sam Jewler, communications officer at U.S. Chamber Watch, a project of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division:

“For the benefit of the economy and the environment, the government must resist indulging industries that would rather lobby secretively behind trade groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce than innovate. The extensive lobbying and misleading rhetoric from groups like the Chamber distorts markets and our democracy.

“The Chamber decries economic costs that are likely to occur regardless, as coal becomes obsolete for a number of reasons, while it ignores the many economic benefits we would reap by reducing greenhouse gas damage to public health and the environment.

“The Chamber still refuses to acknowledge the manmade causes of climate change and the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It would be wise to recognize that there’s no economy at all without a livable planet.”



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