The Clean Power Plan: A Terrible Economic Idea or a Terrific One?
As predicted, the forecasts of the economic impact of the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the EPA’s regulation that limited CO2 emission from power plants, have fallen strongly on partisan lines. The current administration has claimed that EPA regulations are causing economic harm and are planning to roll them back, while others have asserted positive economic impact that will result from the plan.
The World Resources Institute recently reviewed four of the major studies of the CPP to determine which perspective has the most merit.
WRI’s results are clarifying, and not surprisingly they conclude that the CPP likely would not have a negative economic impact through an increased cost of electricity, but the bigger issue is in that the four studies themselves came up with widely different conclusions based from the same data.
How did this happen?
Essentially, the authors of each study were not impartial. Research assumptions were made using foundational data that largely supported a conclusion that would benefit the sponsors of the study.
The lesson: Not all research is created equal.
As the next phase of this work, WRI plans to conduct its own modeling with the primary objective to provide impartial and transparent information on the impact of the CPP – and of all future regulations.
Climate change isn’t partisan. Neither is science. Neither is economics. We need more organizations like WRI, the EPA, governments, universities, and foundations to fund important, unbiased, and peer reviewed work to guide policy work moving forward.