Unions Smell Rat In Climate Change Legislation

In surprisingly pro-business style, organized labor has noted federal policy observers’ concerns regarding the economic impact of restricting carbon dioxide emissions

Sources: CP staff; AFL-CIO, Economic Policy Institute, Washington, D.C.

In suprisingly pro-business style, organized labor has noted federal policy observersÌ concerns regarding the economic impact of restricting carbon dioxide emissions. AFL-CIO Blog Now cites an Economic Policy Institute report, Climate Change Policy, proving how poorly crafted legislation could jeopardize at least 4 million jobs in or connected to the 10 most energy-intensive manufacturing industries, where cement ranks ninth. Included in the impacted labor pool are mill employees represented by International Brotherhood of BoilermakersÌ Cement & Allied Workers Division.

Climate Change author Robert Scott contends that legislation should create a system of rebates and allowances to help U.S. companies transition to lower carbon emissions and a tariff system, or border adjustments, for goods from countries that fail to comparably regulate industry greenhouse gas emissions. Large energy consumers battling cheap imports might respond to forthcoming legislation by moving jobs overseas. That would spur the problem of carbon leakage, the disproportionate increase in carbon dioxide emissions in one country as a result of an emissions reduction by another country whose industries are bound by strict climate policy.

The report’s Oct. 1 release followed introduction of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act from Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA); it sets carbon emission reduction targets by 2020 and 2050 roughly parallel to those of the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act, which narrowly passed the House in late June. Concurrent with the Kerry-Boxer bill, 10 Democratic Senate colleagues representing seven Rust Belt states called for President Obama to ensure that the domestic manufacturing base remains strong under any climate change legislation. In early September, a broader coalition of 28 House members indicated in a letter to the president they would be unable to support any revised ACES Act absent a provision guaranteeing American manufacturers a level playing field.