Cap and trade not worth the cost
There has been a lot of debate in Washington D.C. this week over the Waxman-Markey bill, also known as "cap & trade" or the American Clean Energy & Security Act.
The bill passed the House of Representatives on Friday, by a vote of 219-212, and now goes to the Senate for its consideration.
The controversial bill would impose the nation's first limits on greenhouse gas emissions, linked by some to global warming, and would attempt to shift the country away from reliance on fossil fuels.
The legislation, which runs over a thousand pages, features a concept called "cap and trade," which proponents claim will put a firm limit, or cap, on emissions.
Over time, the cap will steadily decline, so that by the year 2050, greenhouse gas emissions will have been reduced by 83 percent, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.
But an analysis by Chip Knappenberger, administrator of the World Climate Report, says this goal would only reduce global temperature by 2050 by about one tenth of one degree Farenheit.
Although companies' emissions would be capped under the bill, those same companies would be able to purchase rights to emit pollution at levels above their cap from other companies falling short of their allowed emissions.
In effect, it becomes a sin tax, a cost that will simply be passed on to consumers.
For example, if an energy producer using coal-fired plants emits more gases than allowed, it could purchase further emission rights from another company, then pass that cost on to energy consumers in the form of higher electric bills. Not only would it affect our home heating bills, it would drive up overhead for business and industry, which again would be passed on to consumers through higher costs for goods and services.
The environmental behemoth Greenpeace is against the bill, saying the legislation has been weakened by industry lobbyists.
Others call the legislation "cap and tax," and both those who are against or support the bill agree that the result would be higher energy costs on American consumers -- but the question is "how much?"
Those who oppose this bill are calling it "the largest tax increase in American history," with Republicans describing it as a "jobs killer." According to an analysis by the Heritage Foundation, the bill would have a major negative impact on the economy.
The Heritage Foundation is a conservative think tank with a stated mission to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of "free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense." It is widely considered one of the world's most influential public policy research institutes.
Heritage estimates that unemployment and taxes would increase dramatically if the current bill were made into law.
For our area, the Sixth Congressional District of Tennessee, Heritage says the total Gross Domestic Product loss is estimated to be $689.5 million, with a personal income loss of $435.3 million in 2012 alone. Heritage also predicts non-farm job losses for the district at 4,342 for the year 2012.
Jeff Lyash, the outgoing head of Progress Energy Florida, says that the cap and trade bill could raise consumer costs 20 to 50 percent over the next 15 years.
The editors of the Chicago Tribune, President Obama's hometown paper, calls the bill too big, and says that lawmakers are trying to rush it through too quickly.
Energy costs impact every aspect of our lives -- transportation, food, electricity bills and income.
With the economy in its current shape, rushing a law through Congress that would take more money out of everyone's pockets in exchange for potential environmental improvements is the wrong way to go for America.
-- This editorial represents the position of the Times-Gazette's editorial board on this issue. The editorial board includes Hugh Jones, publisher; William Mitchell, general manager; John Philleo, editor; and John I. Carney, city editor. Staff Writer Brian Mosely assisted with this editorial.
Contact your lawmakers
- U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon: 2306 Rayburn HOB, Washington, D.C. 20515; (202) 225-4231; gordon.house.gov
- U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander: 455 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C., 20510; (202) 224-4944; alexander.senate.gov
- U.S. Sen. Bob Corker: Dirksen Senate Office Building SD-185, Washington, D.C., 20510; (202) 224-3344; corker.senate.gov