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Jared Kushner is finally granted his security clearance. Also on our nationwide rundown: A new lawsuit seeks the release of a gay man from ICE detention in Pennsylvania; and protecting an Arizona water source for millions near Phoenix.

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Report: Climate Change Disruptions Costing Arkansas Businesses Millions

PHOTO: A new report finds Arkansas businesses have more to lose from disruptions caused by climate change than the costs associated with proposed EPA carbon standards. Photo courtesy of Taneli Rajala / Wikimedia Commons.
PHOTO: A new report finds Arkansas businesses have more to lose from disruptions caused by climate change than the costs associated with proposed EPA carbon standards. Photo courtesy of Taneli Rajala / Wikimedia Commons.
June 5, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - The proposed EPA rule to reduce carbon pollution from power plants won't be free - but allowing climate change to continue without taking any measures to curtail it may be far more costly.

A new report from the Business Forward Foundation crunched the numbers of the auto industry, measuring the cost of the new EPA standards against the cost of the problem the standards are trying to address. Report author Jim Doyle says severe weather caused or aggravated by climate change is having a massive impact on auto manufacturing.

"Severe weather has closed bridges, flooded factories, warped train tracks, threatened ports and slowed shipping," says Doyle. "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, a six percent increase in electricity rates will cost manufacturers just seven dollars more per vehicle produced. But Doyle says because the auto industry operates a sophisticated global supply chain, a plant loses more - $1.25 million for each hour lost - when severe weather forces a shutdown.

Possibly even more important for Arkansas are the impacts on recreation and tourism - a $1.8 billion industry in the state. John Gale, sportsmen's outreach campaign manager with the National Wildlife Foundation, says folks who spent a great deal of time in the outdoors are already seeing the impact of climate change. For many of them it's personal.

"We're Mother Nature's first responders," explains Gale. "I've been hunting the same places for generations and generations. I'm not talking about defending a political party or another. We're talking about what are we going to pass down."

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

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

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

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - AR