Don't worry: The drop in oil prices is helping the U.S. economy without hamstringing the administration's drive to cut carbon emissions.
That's one conclusion of a broad new Council of Economic Advisers report released Thursday morning that takes stock of the nation's oil-and-gas boom and of policies aimed at driving up the use of green energy and reducing petroleum demand.
Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, put it like this in an interview: "You look all in at the Clean Power Plan, the fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles, and the range of other steps that the administration has taken on climate change, and they massively outweigh any change in carbon emissions that would result from changes in prices."
"One of the important things that this does is it shows that it is not a choice between the economy or the climate," Furman said.
The United States scarcely uses oil to create electric power anymore, so cheaper oil and gasoline don't have much to do with the drive away from coal and toward lower-carbon natural gas and renewables. But the report also takes stock of how U.S. petroleum consumption is well below what analysts were projecting a few years ago and certainly a decade ago, something Furman calls as remarkable as the U.S. production surge.