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Report: Climate Change Disruptions Cost Iowa Manufacturers Millions

PHOTO: A new report finds Iowa manufacturers have more to lose from disruptions caused by climate change than the costs associated with proposed EPA carbon standards. Photo credit: Taneli Rajala/wikimedia commons.
PHOTO: A new report finds Iowa manufacturers have more to lose from disruptions caused by climate change than the costs associated with proposed EPA carbon standards. Photo credit: Taneli Rajala/wikimedia commons.
June 5, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa – A new report finds the cost of the Environmental Protection Agency’s new carbon pollution standards is modest when compared to lost production due to severe weather caused by climate change.

It's estimated the EPA’s proposed standards will raise electricity prices by 6 percent, and that increase will impact manufacturers.

But the Business Forward Foundation crunched the numbers for the auto industry, measuring the cost of the standards against the cost of the problem the standards are trying to address.

Report author Jim Doyle says severe weather spurred by climate change is having a massive impact on manufacturing.

"Severe weather has closed bridges, flooded factories, warped train tracks, threatened ports, and slowed shipping,” he explains. “Auto plants are losing days of production to severe weather, some are losing weeks. And by comparison the cost of these standards is minute."

According to the report, the increase in electricity rates will cost manufacturers just $7 more per vehicle produced.

But Doyle says because the auto industry operates a very sophisticated and global supply chain, a plant loses more than $1.25 million for each hour lost when severe weather forces a shut down.

Doyle says the implications of inaction on carbon pollution are enormous, especially in states that have a significant auto industry sector, such as Iowa.

"Iowa's actually a big auto state,” he explains. “There are 72,000 auto jobs across the state. There are more than 110 different suppliers, and Ford, GM and Chrysler all have facilities in the state."

David Foster, executive director of the Blue Green Alliance, says as the nation transitions to cleaner energy, there are lessons already learned from when the U.S. instituted new fuel economy rules.

He maintains those standards revived the collapsed auto industry.

"A million jobs as a result of embracing higher environmental standards and innovation as the driver of the 21st century economy,” he states. “We need to do for the energy sector exactly what we did for the automotive sector."

Foster adds that disruptions caused by climate change threaten other industries as well, resulting in lost business opportunities, jobs, income for workers and revenue for communities.


John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA