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Who benefits from 'green jobs'?

Saqib Rahim, E&E reporter

A group calling itself the Affordable Power Alliance will release a report today saying greenhouse gas regulations would disproportionately harm minorities.

If U.S. EPA is allowed to regulate greenhouse gases, the report says, the economy will forgo hundreds of billions of dollars in economic growth.

African-Americans and Hispanics would suffer the most because they are already economically vulnerable, the report says. It claims poverty rates for both racial groups would go up by several percentage points.

By 2030, the groups would together lose more than 10 million jobs, according to the report. Median household income -- a common measurement for families' welfare -- would drop as much as $800 a year by 2035.

The group is led by the Congress of Racial Equality, or CORE, a civil rights group that often advocates against carbon regulations. It is joined by black and Hispanic faith groups, a seniors advocacy group and a coalition of black-owned businesses.

They aren't the first to argue that higher energy prices would be "regressive." Economists, among others, say every extra dollar spent on energy bills hits a poor household harder than a wealthy one.

That has driven particularly passionate arguments from CORE. Last June, with the U.S. House on the brink of passing the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act, a CORE statement called it "an immoral assault on poor Americans."

The bill would "purposely raise the cost of energy in order to force the working poor to reduce their standard of living," the statement said.

The statements set CORE apart from others -- including President Obama -- who say controlling carbon would generate millions of "green jobs," not just in the high-tech sector but also for working-class people.
Alliance between conservative and minority groups

Last year, a research group at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, said $150 billion in clean-energy spending would generate 1.7 million jobs.

According to that report, entitled "Green Prosperity," about 900,000 of those jobs would be accessible to people with high school degrees or less -- a group disproportionately made up of minorities. The study was commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Green for All.

According to the Affordable Power Alliance's study, the economic blow to blacks and Hispanics would come from having to spend more on energy and loss of buying power as goods become more expensive.

The report claims higher energy costs would jeopardize seniors' lives.

"Implementation of the EPA Finding would place many elderly households at serious risk by forcing them to heat and cool their homes at levels that are inadequate for maintenance of health," it says.

The report doesn't detail its methodology. To estimate how greenhouse gas regulation would affect gross domestic product and employment, it seems to use three of the harshest analyses of the ACES Act.

This legislation would be a substantially different approach than EPA regulation: It would set up a market for carbon emissions and allow polluters to trade with one another.

The three studies were performed by the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the Heritage Foundation and the American Council for Capital Formation with the National Association of Manufacturers.

These studies used stricter assumptions that found relatively high prices of carbon allowances. EPA, Congressional Budget Office and Energy Information Administration estimates were lower (ClimateWire, Dec. 16, 2009).

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