Energy & Environment

New Boxer-Kerry bill endangers taxpayers and the economy

When most in Washington are focusing on the health care debate, we would be foolish to forget about the other looming nightmare for taxpayers across America: cap-and-trade, more appropriately termed the National Energy Tax. The latest example of this is the Boxer-Kerry bill entitled the "Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act,” which if passed would condemn taxpayers to poverty and the American economy to oblivion.

In fact, it is easy to make the argument that cap-and-trade legislation would exert more control over a bigger sector of our economy than even the most radical proposals for national health care. That’s because energy, especially carbon-based energy, is a factor in the production or provision of virtually every good or service in America. From family-run restaurants, which rely on a fleet of delivery vehicles to the airlines we use to visit relatives, from the clothing factory that uses gas-fired electricity to the coal mine on which a local town depends for employment, cap-and-trade means higher prices, fewer jobs, and lower rates of return for millions of middle class investors and retirees.


Kerry-Boxer will cost farmers, consumers

The "Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act," introduced by Sens. Kerry and Boxer, will cost American farmers and consumers without providing any corresponding benefits.
According to the Department of Energy, energy costs could grow by $1,870 per household. Combined with higher costs for food because of the bill, the additional yearly hit on families could total about $2,300 per household. Said another way, the cap and trade law could impose costs of up to $200 billion a year on American taxpayers, according to the Treasury Department. That's the equivalent of a 15 percent hike in personal income taxes.


Climate change - A national security challenge

“You never have 100% certainty. If you wait till you have that, you’ll fail.”

 The evidence is unmistakable. We have hard choices before us. As the impact of irreversible climate change and the need for cheap energy increases, you’ll see more resource conflicts, more epidemics, and more deaths.

In short, life as we know it - for millions of people, including us - will become nastier, more brutish, and perhaps shorter. As an Iraq War veteran, I’ve dealt with the consequences of our energy needs in ways few have.


New ideas in sustainability (Rep. David Wu)

These days, everyone is talking about the importance of sustainability.  From large corporations to individual families, we are all more conscious of how our actions affect the world around us.  Nowhere is this green ethic embodied more wholly than in my home state of Oregon.  This week I introduced two clean energy bills that are rooted in Oregon’s sustainable culture and beneficial to all Americans.

Nearly 30 years ago, Oregon created a tax credit to encourage energy efficient, sustainable business practices.  It has been wildly successful. State officials report that, thanks to the tax credit, commercial buildings save the amount of electricity used by 730,000 homes every year.  Imagine the potential savings if that program were replicated across America.  The first piece of legislation I introduced this week would do just that.

The Building Energy Tax Credit (BETC), H.R. 3659, fills a gaping hole in the federal tax code by encouraging energy efficiency improvements in commercial buildings.  Our tax laws already address renewable energy projects, alternative transportation, and residential improvements.  However, there is nothing on the books today that provides commercial developers with a strong tax incentive to develop sustainable buildings.


White House should keep coasts open for exploration (Rep. Doc Hastings)

One year ago today, a bipartisan Congress voted to lift the ban on oil and gas drilling off America’s coasts and cleared the way for our Nation to responsibly develop more of our own energy resources, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and create new jobs.

Next, the Bush Administration put forward a robust plan that would open up additional areas to drilling on the United States Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). However, immediately after taking office, the Obama Administration threw up a giant roadblock on the path to new American energy jobs. Instead of opening up the OCS for more oil and natural gas production, the Administration enacted a de-facto ban on new offshore drilling by extending the public comment period on the OCS plan for an additional six months.

The public comment process recently ended on September 21st. The Administration must decide if it will responsibly develop our own resources, only offer up a small area for new production, or continue to completely obstruct new oil and gas drilling.


Expanding Offshore Drilling Boosts American Economy, Creates Jobs (Rep. Frank Lucas)

Last year, following a dramatic price spike in gas prices and very vocal call by the American people to increase American-made energy, Congress and then-President George W. Bush ended a decades-long ban on offshore drilling. Even though the Department of the Interior has jurisdiction over our coasts, Congress had used its power to spend to eliminate offshore drilling by restricting the funds necessary to develop offshore drilling. After President George W. Bush lifted the Executive Order banning offshore drilling in July, Congress followed suit by no longer restricting funding for offshore drilling projects in the appropriations packages.

However, more than a year later, we have still not progressed on this because of delays imposed by the Obama Administration. In March, President Obama announced that he would extend the comment period another six months. That comment period ended on September 21st, but in a move signaling what could be an indefinite delay, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that it could be 2012 before the administration decided whether or not it would allow offshore drilling.

The American people, the United States Congress, and the White House made it very clear last summer they wanted to develop the energy resources off our coasts. Instead of following the will of the people and this Congress, however, the Obama Administration has used one stall tactic after another to delay drilling as long as possible. Drilling in the outer-continental shelf will not only decrease the cost American families pay for energy, it will also create jobs, encourage economic growth, bring in much-needed revenues to many coastal states, and will help us break our dangerous reliance on foreign oil.

According to the American Energy Alliance Report, drilling in the outer-continental shelf would generate $8 trillion in economic output and 1.2 million jobs annually across the country. At a time when unemployment is near 10% and our dependency on foreign oil continues to cost Americans money, jobs, and national security, we cannot turn our backs on offshore drilling. Now is the time to begin expanding all our American-made energy options, and that includes drilling on the outer-continental shelf.


Increased domestic energy production means more American jobs (Rep. Mary Fallin)

We need a comprehensive national energy policy that simultaneously reduces carbon emissions, diversifies our energy sources and reduces our dependence on foreign energy.  Unfortunately the Cap and Trade bill passed this spring would do exactly the opposite.   Controlling which energy sources are available to businesses, consumers and producers will drive up costs and drive employers out of business, to the tune of 20,000 lost jobs in Oklahoma alone.

That’s why we need an all-of-the-above domestic energy strategy - which includes oil and gas, wind, solar, nuclear and biofuels – rather than empowering the federal government to pick winners and losers.  American-made energy means American-made jobs, which is especially critical during a recession.  When we increase domestic production of all energy sources, everybody wins.  We create American jobs and secure our own energy independence.


A landmark day for the ocean

Last week, we experienced a landmark day for the ocean.  The Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force-created by President Obama to guide how we protect and use our ocean-released a report that offers recommendations for national ocean policy. The report calls for the creation of a National Ocean Council to address the important challenges facing our ocean, including helping ocean ecosystems remain resilient and adaptable to the impacts of climate change by addressing the acidification of ocean water and serious threats to the Arctic.  The National Ocean Council has many challenges to solve, but if it fully delivers on its purpose, we will see real change for the ocean for generations to come.
For too long, we have looked to the ocean as a resource to be exploited. With these new recommendations, we are at last looking at the many ways we use the ocean through the lens of conserving all that it offers.

Of particular interest is a focus on the Arctic-a region that is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet.  What happens in the Arctic affects us all-we must find a way to preserve it for our own future. The Arctic is Earth's air conditioner and home to vibrant communities of indigenous peoples who live in harmony with their surroundings. The Arctic is also home to more than a dozen species of marine mammals and birds and hundreds of different fishes.


Climate bill must not harm American manufacturers (Rep. Dan Lipinski)

No industry has endured more adversity in recent years than manufacturing. Since the start of the recession, 2 million American manufacturing jobs have vanished. Yet manufacturing remains vital to ensuring America’s future prosperity, providing good-paying jobs for highly skilled and less skilled workers alike. A strong manufacturing sector is also critical for America’s national security, ensuring that we do not need to turn to foreign firms to help us defend ourselves. As important as the service sector is, it cannot guarantee our well-being. We must continue to be a nation that produces goods. 

That is why it is unthinkable that Congress would do anything that makes it more difficult for American manufacturers to compete with those in China, India, and other countries. Therefore the American Clean Energy and Security Act must include border adjustment provisions that ensure a level playing field for all manufacturers. Despite President Obama’s recent suggestions to the contrary, the carefully crafted tariffs that are part of the Act that passed the House do not send a protectionist signal. As I recently stated in a letter to the President signed by 27 of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, these provisions are fully consistent with America’s World Trade Organization obligations. Indeed, the WTO has explicitly recognized the legality of carbon tariffs meant to level the playing field rather than favor domestic industries.


Holding EPA and coal plants accountable for pollution

This weekend, a powerful New York Times story revealed that water pollution from sources like coal waste is much more prevalent than originally thought – and it’s getting worse. The report points out that several coal companies even admit to disposing of waste with illegally high levels of harmful metals and chemicals.
On Monday, the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Environmental Integrity Project put the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on notice for being 26 years late in setting limits on toxic discharges from coal power plants, like coal ash and coal slurry.