In shocking news, water is still wet, the sky is still blue, and the National Association of Manufacturers is still predicting economic catastrophe if the United States acts against climate change.
NAM, in partnership with the American Council for Capital Formation, released a new study on Wednesday of the climate and energy bill that the House passed in June, better known as Waxman-Markey. They predict that the “anti-energy, anti-growth, and anti-jobs bill” will “destroy growth.”
“Higher energy costs are bad for manufacturers and the 12 million Americans who work in the manufacturing sector,” said Jay Timmons, executive vice president of NAM, in a call with reporters. “After all, manufacturing uses a third of all the electricity generated in the United States.”
Their report predicts that, under the Waxman-Markey bill, the U.S. would lose between 1.8 million and 2.4 million jobs by 2030. The bill would increase costs for each household between $118 to $250 by 2020, and $730 to $1,248 by 2030. And it would cost the economy up to $3.1 trillion dollars over the period of 2012 to 2030, with annual gross domestic product dropping between $419 billion and $571 billion by 2030.
The study also includes state-specific data for 15 industrial and fossil-fuel-dependent states — many of which happen to be represented by senators who are considered swing votes on a climate bill this year, including Arkansas, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. The state numbers were similarly grim, predicting the loss of up to 97,500 jobs in Pennsylvania and up to 59,260 in Indiana.
NAM plans to use the figures to “educate policy makers” over the next few months, said Timmons. “We want to make sure those members of the Senate that represent states that benefit from a strong manufacturing base have a full understanding of the impacts of this bill,” said Timmons.
Scary, eh? Problem is, the NAM/ACCF numbers don’t gibe with the analyses of Waxman-Markey done by government agencies. The Energy Information Administration says that the bill would increase household costs just $83 per year, or less than 23 cents per day. The Environmental Protection Agency put the cost slightly higher, at between $88 and $140 per household per year, and the Congressional Budget Office estimated about $175 a year by 2020 — but both would make the bill cheaper than a postage stamp per day.
The NAM/ACCF report relies on some assumptions that skew the numbers. For instance, it claims to use data from the EIA, but cherry-picks its figures. The NAM study predicts that just 10 to 25 gigawatts of new nuclear power would be developed under the bill. But the EIA estimates that 11 additional gigawatts of nuclear power would come online by 2030 without a cap on carbon, and up to 135 gigawatts under the Waxman-Markey bill.
There are also some dubious assumptions about offsets. While the Waxman-Markey bill allows for up to 2 billion tons of offsets — half domestic, half international — the NAM study assumes that 95 percent of those offsets would be domestic. Domestic offsets are far more expensive than international offsets.
Margo Thorning, senior vice president and chief economist for ACCF, indicated on the groups’ press call today that they believed the nuclear projections were “quite generous,” and that they “tried to be very transparent about what the assumptions were that were underlying these results.”
Still, it’s hard to tell what assumptions were plugged into their study. In a footnote in the executive summary [PDF], Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), the group commissioned to conduct the study, makes clear that the “input assumptions, opinions and recommendations in this report are those of ACCF and NAM, and do not necessarily represent the views of SAIC.”
NAM has been an outspoken opponent of climate change legislation, and has lobbied heavily against action for many years. The association sponsored a similar study last year of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act; it was also skewed by cherry-picked data.
Environmental groups are already pouncing on the NAM numbers. Even before the official release, Environmental Defense Fund issued a statement arguing that NAM’s study is largely based on “make-believe.”
“NAM’s numbers are about as trustworthy as the forged letters sent by their allies to members of Congress, which faked opposition to the ACES bill from local community groups,” said EDF national media director Tony Kreindler, referring to the scandal that erupted earlier this month over fake letters sent on behalf of coal interests.
Conservative anti-climate-action forces are already latching on to the report. And NAM is co-sponsoring anti-climate-bill rallies in 20 states over the next month, where you can be sure these new numbers will be a hot topic.