Black Chamber of Commerce: EPA Clean Air Plan Will Increase Black Poverty 23%, Strip 7,000,000 Black Jobs

Ali Meyer | June 24, 2015 | 10:21am EDT
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National Black Chamber of Commerce President Harry Alford testifying in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on June 23, 2015. (Screen capture)

( - A study commissioned by the National Black Chamber of Commerce, which represents 2.1 million black-owned businesses in the United States, found that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan would increase black poverty by 23 percent and cause the loss of 7 million jobs for black Americans by 2035.

The study also found that the EPA' plan would increase Hispanic poverty by 26 percent and cause the loss of 12 million jobs for Hispanic Americans by 2035.

The EPA proposed the Clean Power Plan on June 2, 2014 to cut carbon emissions from power plants. The National Black Chamber of Commerce commissioned the study to evaluate the potential economic and employment impacts of the plan on minority groups.

National Black Charmber of Commerce President Harry Alford explained the results of the report, “Potential Impact of Proposed EPA Regulations on Low Income Groups and Minorities” at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on Tuesday.

“The study finds that the Clean Power Plan will inflict severe and disproportionate economic burdens on poor families, especially minorities,” said Alford in his prepared statement. “The EPA’s proposed regulation for GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions from existing power plants is a slap in the face to poor and minority families.

“These communities already suffer from higher unemployment and poverty rates compared to the rest of the country, yet the EPA’s regressive energy tax threatens to push minorities and low-income Americans even further into poverty,” Alford added.

"According to a recent study commissioned by the National Black Chamber of Commerce," Alford said, "the Clean Power Plan would: increase Black poverty by 23 percent and Hispanic povety by 26 percent; result in cumulative job losses of 7 million for Blacks and nearly 12 million for Hispanics in 2035; and decrease Black and Hispanic median household income by $455 and $515 respectively, in 2035."

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) rebutted this view, saying that states who have taken action on climate change have seen their economies grow.

“Many states, such as New York and Delaware, have already taken action to reduce the largest emitter of carbon pollution - power plant emissions,” Carper said. “As we will hear today, the economies of these states continue to grow at a faster rate than the states that have yet to put climate regulations in place. However, we need all states to do their fair share to protect the air we breathe and stem the tide of climate change. The EPA’s Clean Power Plan attempts to do just that.”

Opponents of the plan like Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) say that the Clean Power Plan will raise electricity prices and hurt businesses in her state.

“I introduced ARENA [Affordable Reliable Electricity Now Act] and am holding this hearing today because of the devastating impact that EPA’s proposed regulations will have on the families and businesses in my home state and across the nation,”
said Capito. “I am not exaggerating when I say almost every day back home in  West Virginia, there are new stories detailing plants closed, jobs lost, and price increases.”

One of the businesses in Capito’s home state, Ammar, Inc., a family-owned company that operates 19 Magic Mart stores in West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky wrote Capito a letter about the EPA regulation.

“There was a time when your greatest obstacle was your competitor, but if you worked hard, took care of your customers and offered quality merchandise at a fair price, you could compete successfully,” the letter stated. “Unfortunately, that is now not the case… The largest impediment we have to operating our business successfully is our own government, particularly the EPA. The rulings issued by the EPA have devastated our regional economy.

“Coal provided 96 percent of West Virginia’s electricity last year. West Virginia has among the lowest electricity prices in the nation: last year, the average price was 27 percent below the national average,” said Capito. “But that advantage will not survive this administration’s policies. Studies have projected the Clean Power Plan will raise electricity prices in West Virginia by between 12 and 16 percent.”

“Put simply, there is no way that this massive, largely EPA-driven reduction in coal fired electricity generation is going to impact only coal states. It’s going to impact the majority of states, and the families and businesses within them. Often, the poorest and most vulnerable populations will bear the brunt of this increase,” she said.  

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