NERA Study: EPA Regs Would Cost Arkansas Jobs, Millions in Compliance

A new study conducted by NERA Economic Consulting, and commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers, says new ozone regulations would cost Arkansas thousands of jobs per year and hundreds of millions of dollars in compliance costs.

In June, the Obama administration rolled out a proposal aiming to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Arkansas' reduction goal was estimated at 44 percent by 2030, according to the EPA.

The NERA study says the new regulations would mean a loss of 10,489 jobs per year in Arkansas and $240 million in compliance costs. In addition, the state's average household consumption per year would drop $470, and cost residents $19 million more to own and operate vehicles between 2017 and 2040. 

More: To view the entire study, click here (PDF)

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and the state's Public Service Commission recently met with stakeholders to discuss the proposed regulations and to formulate a response. Teresa Marks, director of the ADEQ, says the state has until June 2015 to submit a plan to the federal government.

"We are working with the stakeholder group now to try to determine the best way to achieve those emission reductions with the least amount of economic impact to Arkansans," Marks told Arkansas Business on July 7

The new standards would also mean the closure of about 76 percent of Arkansas' coal-fired generating capacity, the NERA study says. The state has five plants, two of which made a 2011 list of the 50 most polluting power plants in the nation, according to a study by the Environment America Research & Policy Center in Boston.

The Independence power plant in Newark, a 1,678-megawatt plant, was ranked No. 35 with 11.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2011, and the 1,480-megawatt White Bluff plant in Redfield was No. 42 with 10.4 million tons. Both plants are owned by Entergy Arkansas Inc.

Across the Country

The EPA is expected to propose its new National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ground-level ozone in December, lowering the standard from 75 parts per billion to as low as 60 parts per billion. To date, it has identified 38 percent of the controls needed to meet the 60 ppb standard with 62 percent still to be identified.

Nationwide, the NERA study found the following affects of the proposed regulations:

  • Reduce U.S. GDP by $270 billion per year and $3.4 trillion from 2017 to 2040.
  • Result in 2.9 million fewer jobs per year, on average, through 2040.
  • Cost the average U.S. household $1,570 per year in the form of lost consumption.
  • Increase natural gas and electricity costs for manufacturers and households across the country.

To view a summary of the study, click here, and for the entire study, click here.