Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Fact-Checking GOP Response to EPA Rules

Two fact-check sites weigh in on the Republican response to the Obama administration's EPA rules.

From Politifact.com:

President Barack Obama’s administration unveiled tough new regulations on existing power plants that seek to significantly curb carbon emissions in the coming decades.

Moments after the proposal was released, it was widely panned by Republicans, who called it a continuation of Obama’s so-called "War on Coal" and said it would kill jobs, raise electric prices and hurt the economy.

On his website, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, put it in more direct terms: "The president’s plan would indeed cause a surge in electricity bills — costs stand to go up $17 billion every year.  But it would also shut down plants and potentially put an average of 224,000 more people out of work every year."

Those numbers are based on a U.S. Chamber of Commerce study that came out before the EPA announced the regulations on existing power plants.
That study wrongly assumed the administration would set a benchmark of reducing carbon emissions by 42 percent before 2030. The regulations released June 2 actually put forward a 30 percent reduction within that timeframe. The chamber itself told PolitiFact its estimates are not based on the goals as announced. But despite these serious flaws, Boehner used the numbers anyway. We rate his statement False.

From The Washington Post:

Given the significant difference between the emissions 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. 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.

Some might argue this was only an innocent mistake, but the EPA last week in a blog post on the Chamber’s study noted that it would not require carbon-capture technology for new natural gas plants. (The Fact Checker made the same point in a May 23 column on a misleading radio ad.)

That should have been a tip-off that some of the Chamber’s assumptions were shaky — and that it would have been a good idea to double-check what the rule actually said before firing off a statement. These early warnings tipped the GOP citation of the Chamber study into the Four-Pinocchio range.

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