Last Monday, President Obama unveiled tougher rules designed to cut carbon emissions from U.S. power plants. The new rules would reduce carbon emissions by 32% of what they were in 2005 and require the states to figure out how to meet those requirements. The states have some flexibility in doing that, and they get two years to comply. States that boost renewable sources of electricity, such as wind and solar, will get credits to offset future carbon pollution. Some, like Massachusetts, are already ahead of the game.
Predictably, the coal industry threatened to sue, and said that the new rules would cost jobs.
I have no doubt that they would cost jobs. And I have a lot of sympathy for that.
But lots of things cost jobs:
- Mostly it’s the decision of companies to move those jobs overseas.
- Or have then replaced with robots.
- Or have an entire sector replaced with new technology.
If we don’t start doing something about climate change, coastal cities around the world will soon be underwater. Along with half of Florida. And the Netherlands. And Bangladesh.
The fishing industry loses jobs when certain areas are declared as overfished — which they are — and those areas are then closed in order to allow fish stock to regenerate.
Unfortunately, we can’t just keep burning coal to generate power. We really do have to do something else.