Conservative Media Fabricate Numbers On Future Carbon Standards

The Wall Street Journal editorial board and Fox News are throwing around baseless estimates of how much carbon standards for existing power plants, which have not even been proposed yet, will cost.

Tuesday, President Barack Obama announced in a speech on a series of executive actions to address climate change that he was “directing” the Environmental Protection Agency to set a standard for how much carbon pollution existing power plants can emit. A Journal editorial that ran in the paper Wednesday argued that these carbon standards would be too costly, claiming “In general every $1 billion spent complying with an EPA rule threatens 16,000 jobs and cuts GDP by $1.2 billion.” But that is based on an analysis prepared for the Council of Industrial Boiler Owners (CIBO) of a rule that impacts them, not EPA rules in general.

The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service concluded that “little credence can be placed” in CIBO's estimates of costs and job losses. Retrospective analyses of industry studies such as CIBO's have found that they regularly overestimate costs and underestimate benefits.

Fox NewsSimilarly, Fox News suggested that carbon standards would boost energy prices by 20 percent and cost 500,000 jobs. However, that is based on an as-yet unreleased Heritage Foundation analysis that will look at several EPA rules including the not yet proposed rule on existing power plants' carbon pollution.

The only cost estimates based on an actual proposal for carbon standards are from an analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council, which found that the standards could actually lower power bills by giving plant owners credit for any improvements in energy efficiency. The Heritage Foundation previously overestimated the costs of cap-and-trade and released a widely-criticized cost estimate for immigration reform.

These News Corp. outlets' willingness to throw around unsubstantiated numbers undermines their credibility on the costs and benefits of reducing carbon pollution through the EPA when we actually have rules on the table.