WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. rules to cut carbon emissions could close more than 90 coal plants and eliminate jobs that support mining and power stations that the federal government has not fully considered, a report by the conservative American Action Forum research group said on Thursday.
The Environmental Protection Agency this summer is due to adopt its Clean Power Plan to cut carbon emissions from coal- fired plants.
The rules are part of President Barack Obama's strategy to push the world to cut carbon emissions by reducing them at home. The EPA also says the rules will save consumers billions of dollars over time in doctors' bills from lower output of lung-harming particulates.
But nearly 300,000 jobs could be lost including 80,000 in the energy sector and the rest in secondary jobs that support those workers, such as in manufacturing and services, according the report by the American Action Forum. The group is led by Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who was the top economic adviser to Senator John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign.
"We can't expect coal worker jobs to go away and there not be some immediate impacts in the jobs that are supported by that industry," said Sam Batkins, a co-author of the report. (http://bit.ly/1JMS62L)
While many workers would eventually find new jobs, Batkins said there could be serious problems in some communities for up to two years, especially in small towns where a coal plant is a top employer.
Supporters of the EPA rules say the plan could eventually create more than 200,000 jobs in energy efficiency and renewable energy.
The AAF report picked the least-efficient power plants to come up with the number of potential closures. EPA officials questioned the conclusion that more than 90 plants would close, as many inefficient plants only run sporadically.
An EPA spokeswoman said many factors would cause such closures, including low prices for natural gas, which competes with coal.
More than a dozen states were set to urge a U.S. appeals court on Thursday to throw out the EPA's rules, in the first major test of the legality of the Clean Power Plan.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)