RELEASE: Utility Companies Wrong Again About the Cost of Pollution Safeguards

Washington, D.C. – Today, as coal and utility companies once again predict that carbon pollution limits would result in skyrocketing electricity rates, the Center for American Progress released an analysis proving that their record as prognosticators is quite poor. The power industry’s past predictions of doom were wrong—16 percent too high in one instance—and so are their current claims that the first carbon-pollution cuts for power plants executed by the Environmental Protection Agency would be disastrous. In fact, past air safeguards have huge net economic benefits.

“The bloated predictions about the cost of EPA proposals to finally control carbon pollution from power plants is simply a rehash of past hysteria,” said Daniel J. Weiss, Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategies at CAP. “These new safeguards are essential for Americans’ health and economy. Officials should ignore industry’s phony forecasts, and instead focus on the huge costs of climate inaction: more smog, more asthma attacks, more ferocious storms, more droughts, and more wildfires.”

In September 2013, the EPA proposed limits on carbon pollution from future power plants. This June, the EPA plans to propose the first reductions in carbon pollution from existing power plants. Coal and some utility companies are once again trotting out the same fear-mongering claims about zooming electricity rates and other harms that they have alleged for years about other pollution safeguards.

Yet over the past 40 years, evaluation of industry predictions of apocalyptic costs from pollution-control requirements found that they do not occur. For instance, in 1982, the Congressional Budget Office concluded that claims about high rates due to the Clean Air Act were false.

The Edison Electric Institute, or EEI, is the lobbying arm for investor-owned utilities. As part of its campaign against President George H. W. Bush’s 1989 bill to cut acid rain pollution from power plants, EEI predicted that electricity rates in the lower 48 states would significantly rise. Two decades later, CAP’s state-by-state analysis of EEI’s rate predictions determined that it was 16 percent too high overall. And 36 states had lower electricity rates in 2009 than in 1990 (in 2009 dollars) even after several rounds of acid rain controls.

ElectricityRates-webtable

Read the analysis: Groundhog Days: Utilities Wrong Again About Pollution Safeguard Costs by Daniel J. Weiss and Miranda Peterson

To speak to an expert, contact Anne Shoup at ashoup@americanprogress.org or at 202.481.7146.

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