Tuesday, July 07, 2009

GUEST COLUMN: "Flawed Legislation Fails to Address Nation’s Energy Needs" by Rep. Turner

By Rep. Mike Turner

On June 26, I joined a bipartisan group of 212 Members of Congress in opposing the Waxman-Markey Clean Energy and Security Act (HR 2454), also known as the “Cap and Trade” bill. The legislation fails to address the important energy needs facing Ohio families, would further burden our state’s manufacturing base, and cause additional job loss.

Last October, I voted against the $700 billion bailout of our nation’s financial industry, and, in February, I also opposed the $800 billion economic “stimulus.” Both of these bills were ill-considered, did not help those who’ve suffered the most due to job loss and home foreclosures, and lacked details as to how the $1.5 trillion in taxpayer funds would be spent. The impact of these two measures will be trillions in added national debt. I have similar concerns about the new energy bill.

The Clean Energy and Security Act has been touted by the House leadership as a path to reach American energy independence while also creating “green jobs” during a time of record unemployment and a struggling economy. Such claims sound good as everyone wants greater energy supplies at home, and job growth. But in reality, this energy bill will result in higher energy costs for all Americans and a reduction in jobs.

The energy bill earned the nickname the “Cap and Trade” bill due to its most controversial provision – the imposition of greenhouse gas emissions limitations in exchange for government emission “allowances.” Unused emissions allowances can be traded or sold among manufacturers. Each year the number of such allowances would be reduced, with fines imposed on those who exceed the emission limits, thus driving up the cost of energy and other services. Ultimately, the consumer will bear these costs. Furthermore, electricity suppliers would be required to meet rising requirements for renewable energy sources, placing states like Ohio which rely mainly on coal, at a disadvantage.

The restrictions placed on U.S. manufacturers by the Cap and Trade energy bill would place them at a competitive disadvantage with other nations, encouraging the relocation of American jobs overseas. An energy policy which leads to a reduction in jobs is not good policy at any time, let alone during an economic downturn.

Then there’s the direct impact of the Cap and Trade bill on average Americans. A Congressional Budget Office analysis found the energy bill’s allowances and offsets could cost approximately $105 billion in 2010. This works out to almost $900 for each U.S. household next year alone. Other studies, including a Heritage Foundation review, say the total cost per household could be much higher when increased prices for goods and services are factored in.

Rather than disrupt the economy and place restrictions on American energy sources, Congress should promote policies which rebuild our economy, and provide consumers with reliable and affordable energy. I have joined over 100 of my House colleagues in support of the American Energy Act (HR 2846), a bill that takes advantage of our available domestic energy resources without imposing new taxes on the American consumer. This comprehensive legislation is an “all of the above” approach to our energy policy that would increase production of American-made energy in an environmentally-safe manner, encourage greater conservation, and spur investment in alternative energy sources such as hydrogen, solar power, wind, and clean coal, an abundant domestic natural resource found here in Ohio. In addition, the American Energy Act establishes a national goal of constructing 100 clean, modern nuclear power plants over the next 20 years.

It’s not too late to do the right thing and enact a sound energy policy. The American Energy Act strikes the right balance of traditional energy reliance and alternative energy development.