This Testimony by the Government Accountability Office (GAO-09-875T) finds that estimating the potential effects of domestic emissions pricing for industries in the United States is complex. If the United States were to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, production costs could rise for certain industries and could cause output, profits, or employment to fall. Within these industries, some of these adverse effects could arise through an increase in imports, a decrease in exports, or both. However, the magnitude of these potential effects is likely to depend on the greenhouse gas intensity of industry output and on the domestic emissions price, which is not yet known, among other factors.
Estimates of adverse competitiveness effects are generally larger for industries that are both relatively energy- and trade-intensive. In 2007, these industries accounted for about 4.5 percent of domestic output. Estimates of the effects vary because of key assumptions required by economic models. For example, models generally assume a price for U.S. carbon emissions, but do not assume a similar price by other nations. In addition, the models generally do not incorporate all policy provisions, such as legislative proposals related to trade measures and rebates that are based on levels of production.
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