Friday, July 17, 2009

Senate should scrap cap and trade

By Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter

The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 is a 1,201-page piece of legislation jammed through the U.S. House of Representatives recently in the name of addressing climate change. Unfortunately, all it actually would do is raise taxes and energy costs while eliminating jobs and slowing our economy.

Your help is needed to make sure the U.S. Senate doesn't follow the lead of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Democrat legions bent on making this bad economic and environmental policy into the law of the land.

In a recent letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo and other members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee wrote that "some estimates place the total economic footprint of (climate) legislation in the trillions of dollars." They also point out that those costs will affect "families, farmers, drivers and workers" with "higher prices for power, gasoline, diesel, food and other consumable goods."

In other words, they will hit every one of us.

The senators' letter and the concerns it details about the EPA's economic analysis of the American Clean Energy and Security Act raised my hackles too. While I fully support and advocate greater energy independence, energy efficiency and responsible environmental protection, it also is prudent to ask at what point proposed actions become cost-prohibitive and what tangible benefits there would be for American consumers already struggling through a deep recession.

Is this "cap-and-trade" legislation—no matter how well intentioned—worth driving our utility bills higher?

Beyond the direct costs, there also may be unintended consequences of the act, especially for our nation's food supply. Costs for farm machinery, fuel, electricity and agricultural chemicals certainly would increase under the bill, as would the cost of delivering food from the farm to the dinner table.

As Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson said after the House vote Friday, "This is a classic example of Congress rushing to fix a problem it doesn't fully understand and implement a solution it hasn't fully considered. In the end, this legislation represents the largest tax increase in American history and a devastating blow to the competitiveness of American agriculture and manufacturing."

We owe it to our families, farmers, drivers and workers—indeed, to every American taxpayer and consumer—to carefully analyze the proposed changes in energy regulations so we know who exactly is being helped and who is being hurt. With a 1,201-page behemoth of a bill, that will take time, effort and critical thinking.

The EPA's own assessment of the bill assumes a 150 percent increase in our nation's nuclear power generating capacity by 2050. That would be great, and I for one hope we get there. But it might not be practical or realistic unless financial and waste management and disposal barriers are addressed by Congress first.

At least 224 amendments were offered to the American Clean Energy and Security Act in the House. Yet House Democrat leadership allowed only one of those amendments to be considered, sweeping aside meaningful debate before rubber stamping the bill. That speaks profoundly to the complexity and level of concern surrounding this issue.

Our Idaho congressional delegation understands that. Others might not, so please join me in thanking Congressmen Simpson and Minnick for their "No" votes and supporting Senators Crapo and Risch in their efforts to stop this bill. The impacts are far-reaching, and we all will have to pay the price.

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