Restructuring energy use in the United States to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions through cap-and-trade systems or taxes on carbon dioxide will come at a high cost for the nation’s citizens, according to an analysis, “The Cost of Climate Regulation for American Households,” by two Clemson University economists.

Estimates of the increases in electricity prices range from 5% to 15% in 2015 and between 14% and 128% in 2030. Prices of natural gas could rise in 2015 by 12% to 20% or even 49% in a high-cost scenario. The study, authored by Bryan Buckley and Sergey Mityakov, finds that since natural gas would be the likely replacement for coal, natural gas prices could rise by 20% to 107% in low-cost scenarios to 87% and 145% in high-cost scenarios by 2030.

However, “natural gas prices are particularly sensitive to the development of other low-carbon alternatives to existing coal-produced power. The pace and scope of clean coal and natural gas carbon capture and sequestration development has massive implications for future natural gas demand,” the study said. It is available at

“Policy proposals that would drastically alter our energy system or confront the climate change risk must be considered in light of turbulent and uncertain economic circumstances,” said Jeff Kueter, president of the nonprofit George C. Marshall Institute, which published the study. Kueter pointed to the additional costs that will be borne by consumers already stressed by the economic downturn.

The study, which compares findings of seven government and private organizations on the cost impact of a number of proposed plans for containing greenhouse gases, finds the popular cap-and-trade approach contained in last year’s Lieberman-Warner Senate proposal to be the equivalent of a permanent tax increase for the average American household, which would rise to $1,437 annually by 2015, to $1,979 in 2030 and to $2,979 in 2050.

The study compares analysis prepared by the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, the American Council for Capital Formation, the National Association of Manufacturers, CRA International, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Energy Information Administration, the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis and the Clean Air Task Force.

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