Cap and trade would cost La. jobs, study says
Houma Courier | By Naomi King
A conservative-leaning Louisiana nonprofit released a study backing up arguments that proposed national air-emissions standards would hurt the state’s economy and result in job losses.
The study says gross state product will decline by $5.1 billion to $6.9 billion in 2030, when emission reduction targets are proposed to be tighter and allowances are no longer given away. Gross state product is defined as the market value of all goods and services produced within Louisiana in a year.
The study says the state will lose 26,066 to 35,500 jobs and yearly disposable income will fall by $485 to $874 by 2030.
The average Louisiana family can expect the price of electricity to increase by up to 54 percent, gasoline by 26 percent and natural gas by 77 percent, the study says.
The nearly 2-year-old nonprofit, the Pelican Institute for Public Policy, commissioned economists Margo Thorning and Pinar Çebi Wilber for the study, released Monday. The women work for the American Council for Capital Formation in Washington, D.C.
“We simply wanted to get a better idea of what the economic impact would be specifically on Louisiana,” said Kevin Kane, institute president.
“We could be harder hit because of the oil-and-gas industry.”
Tackling climate change through the reduction of certain pollutants is a goal of the Obama administration and environmental advocates who believe the country should set an example for the rest of the world and leave less of an impact on ecosystems.
For Louisiana, that means curbing sea-level rise that could — with the help of saltwater intrusion, hurricanes and subsidence — put coastal communities under water in a century.
The Pelican Institute’s study, however, uses energy rates and economic and employment data to back up arguments against so-called cap-and-trade legislation that the House of Representatives passed this summer.
At least two bills in the Senate will include climate-change provisions, though it’s unclear whether they’ll include a cap-and-trade system, which sets government limits for emissions then allows polluters that exceed those limits to “trade” credits with others that don’t meet their threshold. Louisiana lawmakers said they couldn’t comment on the upcoming bills, but the offices of Sen.
Mary Landrieu and Napoleonville Rep. Charlie Melancon, both Democrats, said they’re opposed to any cap-and-trade provisions because of the impact on Louisiana jobs and companies.
“That’s why I am encouraged to see Senate negotiations moving away from a cap-and-trade regime and to a more modest approach that will better address the economy and the problem of climate change,” Landrieu said in a statement. U.S. Sen.
David Vitter, R-La., is opposed to cap and trade.
One of the Senate bills is set for release Monday and could include similar emissions standards that the study’s author, Thorning, says would still be detrimental to Louisiana’s manufacturing and energy industries.
Though the study does not look at the environmental impacts of the chemical and oil-and-gas industries in Louisiana, it does factor in all aspects of climate change legislation, such as creation of “green” jobs.
Even with these new jobs, Louisiana will see a reduction in job growth, she said.
But other factors need to be considered when evaluating future jobs and economics in Louisiana, said Len Bahr, retired director of applied science at the Louisiana’s Governor’s Office under five administrations.
Most important are the effects of climate change on sea level and subsidence from the leveeing of the Mississippi River and the resulting lack of sediment reaching delta areas like Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes.
“We’re not going to have jobs underwater,” said Bahr, who runs a science blog. “Of all the coasts in the U.S., Louisiana is the most threatened.”
Bahr said he favors cap and trade and that arguments against it resemble those in the 1970s when reductions in air and water pollution for the chemical industry were enacted and officials feared the industry would leave Louisiana.