Friday, May 15, 2009

Guest Column: "Cap and Trade a Flawed Proposal"

By Rep. Bob Latta (R, OH-05)

Energy prices are on the rise. Families, homeowners, and businesses are feeling the pain every time they pay their electric bills or fill up at the pump. The cap and trade, or cap and tax, energy plan, introduced by the Obama Administration and Democratic leadership in Congress, will only make matters worse. This energy plan raises taxes, leads to more government intrusion, and leads to the unprecedented loss of American jobs.

Democrats claim that this plan will help the environment and create “green jobs” that will benefit our nation. I believe that this could not be any further from the truth. Any new jobs created will not even come close to compensating for jobs lost to this energy plan. According to a study by the Heritage Foundation, Ohio’s Fifth District is the third most vulnerable Congressional District in the United States. The entire state of Ohio ranks as one of the most vulnerable to the energy tax – with eight of the 18 congressional districts with the highest Manufacturing Vulnerability Index.

The Center for Data Analysis at the Heritage Foundation reports that cap and trade could result in job losses of up to 844,000 per year until at least 2035. I feel that this is a high price to pay during such harsh economic times. We need legislation that creates American jobs, not destroys them.

Cap and tax claims to be taxing energy for a goal – to improve the environment and prevent global warming. However, according to a study by the Environmental Protection Agency, a 60 percent reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions by 2050 will only reduce global temperature by 0.1 degree Centigrade by 2095.

Cap and trade is a costly policy. Analysis of the economic impact of Waxman-Markey estimates that by 2035 the GDP will be reduced by $7.4 trillion, electricity rates will increase 90 percent, and residential prices for natural gas will increase by 55 percent. In addition, an average family of four could see their energy costs rise $3100 per year – a price that I feel is too much to ask.

In a speech before Congress in February, President Obama promised Americans that families that make less than $250,000 per year “will not see (your) taxes increased a single dime.” Apparently, President Obama was not including energy taxes. While a candidate, then-Senator Obama stated in California that under his cap and tax plan, utility rates would “necessarily skyrocket,” and those costs would be passed along to consumers.

This national energy plan will hit the poor the hardest. Individuals with lower incomes spend a greater share of their income on energy consumption. All Americans will pay more for energy, but those who are already struggling to make ends meet will be forced to struggle even harder.

Cap and tax intends to improve the environment. However, the truth is that it will relocate manufacturing plants overseas to countries with less stringent environmental regulations. This will only serve to take jobs away from Ohio’s Fifth District. I believe we need to improve our environment and solve our energy crisis. However, I feel that there is a better way for America to become energy independent than hurting our economy and losing jobs.

More government, more taxes, and fewer jobs sounds more like a problem than a solution to our energy crisis. I support an “all of the above” energy plan that produces energy made by American workers, encourages greater efficiency, conservation, and promotes the use of alternative fuels. In January, I introduced H. Res. 29, an “All of the Above Plan” to use as a platform in solving America’s energy crisis.

As a member of the American Energy Solutions Group, I am working with my colleagues to find a better solution than the tremendously flawed cap and tax proposal. Congress should never put American families in a position where they have to decide between putting food on the table and paying energy bills. I will continue to fight for energy solutions that put the American people first.