Why I'm Against Cap-and-Trade

BlogHer Original Post

I've followed the Waxman - Markey legislation, infamously known as cap-and-trade, for some time now, being that I've a factory-employed step-father, farmers in my family, a small business-owning husband, and, like all of us, I pay energy bills, the prices of which seem to increase annually.

The common misconception about conservatives is that we're not "pro-environment," which couldn't be further from the truth. I come from a farming family who steadfastly believe that what you take from the earth you return. I was raised knowing that it's a responsibility of humanity - even laid forth in Genesis - to be a good steward of the environment. This, perhaps is my biggest criticism of cap-and-trade (also Greenpeace's - I cannot believe they and I are agreeing on an issue, even in part), aside from my other concern: massive job loss.

This legislation, as explained by President Obama, proposes to curb carbon emissions and reduce energy usage by increasing the price of energy as the motivation to use less. There are several things wrong with this proposal, things which make it impossible for me to support:

1) The legislation approaches the problem of carbon emissions completely wrong. Back in the 90s, my uncle was one of several lobbyists who worked to push forth legislation that provided tax incentives to farmers who used organic means of cultivation. Instead of penalizing farmers, who were already struggling as it was, they would be rewarded for using less chemicals on the land. The plan worked - and has worked in states where implemented. Positive reinforcement works time and time again.

2) There are currently no incentives for businesses to reduce emissions, just penalties. This in turn positions the legislation and the party supporting it as being hostile to business, even if they really aren't. The bill also has no guarantees that these businesses won't simply relocate or ship jobs overseas as a way to get around purchasing credits or paying penalties; there is no guarantee that they won't emit less if they relocate - but it is certain that they won't curb their emissions if they do.

3) The bill proposes to shift dependence from coal - a resource of which we have an abundance, says the U.S. Department of Energy, which is why the energy bills of the United States are so much lower compared to other parts of the world - to energies which are not yet capable of sustaining the market demand, explained Dan Kish, Senior Vice-President for Policy at the Institute for Energy Research, on my radio show last week. It costs more to produce less energy with regards to win and solar. The mistake made by some against conservatives is that by stating this, we're speaking against wind and solar power which is factually incorrect. I would love to have various forms of energy. I would love to have a decreased dependence on foreign countries for oil, et al., I would love to create more jobs in the green industry- but not at the sake of denying scientific fact where energy is concerned. We are not yet at that point to make a major shift.

4) According to Kish, we have already cut emissions by 70-75% without this exponentially-increased governmental oversight. More can be done, sure, but we're working off the false premise that changes are not already underway. Instead of cracking down on companies and risking job losses with no environmental benefit, why not craft a bill to reward them for reductions? Kish and others have also noted that our newer coal plants burn incredibly cleaner than older plants; why not retrofit older plants and make them more efficent? The cost to do this would seem to be less than the proposed cost incurred by this legislation. Says Ben Lieberman, Senior Policy Analyst for Energy and Environment in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation:

For a household of four, energy costs go up $436 that year, and they eventually reach $1,241 in 2035 and average $829 annually over that span. Electricity costs go up 90 percent by 2035, gasoline by 58 percent, and natural gas by 55 percent by 2035. The cumulative higher energy costs for a family of four by then will be nearly $20,000.

But direct energy costs are only part of the consumer impact. Nearly everything goes up, since higher energy costs raise production costs. If you look at the total cost of Waxman-Markey, it works out to an average of $2,979 annually from 2012-2035 for a household of four. By 2035 alone, the total cost is over $4,600.

Of course, by giving incentives to instead of penalizing businesses, the government would greatly reduce the billions its expected to rake in from this legislation to offset stimulus spending.

5) I am open to all theories, so long as they are founded in fact and not politics, i.e. the EPA report that was suppressed. Such controversy should not exist when undertaking the biggest tax in American history based on the findings of such reports. Pat Austin, of So It Goes in Shreveport, discusses the suppressed EPA report:

The fact that the EPA suppressed a 98 page report by EPA senior research analyst Alan Carlin, some assume under pressure by the Obama administration, that draws serious questions about climate change.

6) I do not want elected officials - from EITHER party - who would stand to benefit from the passage of this or any legislation involved with getting it to a vote, i.e. Nancy Pelosi and Missouri Rep. Russ Carnahan.

7) The estimated job loss as a result of cap-and-trade is projected at 81,000 machinery jobs alone; by 2035 there will be 263,000 fewer machinery jobs. That's just in that particular industry. The ratio of jobs created with Waxman - Markey is grossly disproportionate to the amount of jobs which will be lost. It's analogous to saying that we need another hurricane to roar through the Florida panhandle in order to create some construction jobs. Well, sure, we'll have some construction jobs, but what of the other sectors? They will be ravaged. For further insight, listen to Warren Buffett give testament to this, or these Missouri small business owners whose jaws hit the floor when they realized what would happen to their energy bills under cap-and-trade. Austin also notes:

The Heritage Foundation predicts that this bill will "destroy 1,145,000 jobs on average, with peak years seeing unemployment rise by over 2,479,000 jobs."

What happenes when you increase the cost of doing business? The price
of the product increases. Benefits are cut and jobs are lost as companies shift to reign in spiked costs. You discover that your dollar doesn't stretch as far as it once did. The effects are widespread. 

8) There's more in Waxman - Markey than most people realize. Pundit and Pundette examines how this bill attempts to micromanage citizens via a post from Austin:

And how will this bill affect you? It has regulations on every single aspect of your daily life. There are light bulb restrictions (no more than 60 watts in your candelabra); in fact there's a whole section that deals with lamps. If you decide to build a new home, it must meet new and specific energy requirements. If you decide to sell your existing home, a federal inspector must inspect your home, determine it's energy rating, and if your home is found to be unacceptable then you must retrofit and make changes before you will be able to sell.

There's an entire section on planting trees including guidelines on "scientific based measurements outlining the species and minimum distance required between trees planted...in addition to the minimum required distance to be maintained between such trees and building foundations, air conditioning units, driveways and walkways...". Do we really need the federal government telling us where we can plant trees?

There's a section dealing with outdoor lighting in which you are given instructions about landscape lights, lights in your swimming pool, lights on artwork and other architectural lighting. The federal government is going to tell you what wattage that light can be and how many you can have. In some cases the lights must be capable of producing two different light levels (100 and 60 watt).

There are new government regulations for water dispensers, hot tubs and other appliances. They're going to regulate water usage, and regulate wood stoves. Any wood stove that does not meet regulation must be "destroyed and recycled."

9) This bill is one of the most important pieces of legislation in recent years because it's the biggest tax hike in the country and congress, breaking all promises, again, didn't even read it. A 300-page addendum was dumped on their desks the night before the vote. Kim Priestap takes issue with how the bill isn't even technically a bill yet:

This is unbelievable. The House voted on a bill that is not even a bill yet. It’s still in the development stages.

This is why I and so many are against the Waxman - Markey cap-and-trade bill. There is a better way to go about it that puts the environment and jobs first, politics second, all without further tanking our economy. The results are too important with which to trifle. Whoever does it? BRAVO.

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