WASHINGTON — Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma are among the most vocal Republican skeptics of the science that burning fossil fuels contributes to global warming, but a new study to be released Thursday found that their states would be among the biggest economic winners under a regulation proposed by President Obama to fight climate change.
The study, conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Rhodium Group, both research organizations, concluded that the regulation would cut demand for electricity from coal — the nation’s largest source of carbon pollution — but create robust new demand for natural gas, which has just half the carbon footprint of coal. It found that the demand for natural gas would, in turn, drive job creation, corporate revenue and government royalties in states that produce it, which, in addition to Oklahoma and Texas, include Arkansas and Louisiana.
The report concluded that the rule would hurt states where coal production is a central part of the economy — chiefly Wyoming, the nation’s largest coal producer. States that produce both coal and natural gas, such as Pennsylvania, would experience an economic trade-off as diminished coal production was replaced by new natural gas production.
The regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency assigns states different targets for cutting planet-warming carbon pollution from power plants and requires them to devise individual compliance plans to meet the standards. Experts say the regulation could transform the nation’s power system by shuttering coal plants, driving new wind and solar power, and spurring states to enact taxes on carbon pollution.
The study took into account the economic costs imposed by the regulation and concluded that it would raise electricity rates by up to 10 percent in some parts of the country and eventually freeze coal production. But even taking those costs into account, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas together would experience an annual net economic benefit of up to about $16 billion, according to the study.
“The irony is that some of the states that have been the loudest in opposing E.P.A. climate regulations have the most to gain in terms of actual economic interest,” said Trevor Houser, an analyst at the Rhodium Group and a co-author of the study.
The report analyzed the economic impact of the rule on 11 regions of the country and found that Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas would collectively have to make the steepest pollution cuts, per capita, in the nation.
Texas’ reduction alone would account for 19 percent of the nation’s total emission reductions from power plants. But even as the states made those steep cuts, the report found that, over all, their economies would benefit, although at the expense of coal-dependent states.
“It’s a significant net gain for natural gas-producing states but exacerbates the loss for coal-producing states,” Mr. Houser said. “But more and more states are producing natural gas.”Read more...
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