A Better Energy Alternative to "Cap and Tax" (Rep. Don Manzullo)

Next week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee plans to take the first step to compel people through disincentives to move away from carbon-based energy sources primarily through a “cap and trade” system or what should be more accurately called a “cap and tax” system. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that a “cap and tax” program will increase energy costs by as much as $2,200 per family. These higher energy costs would disproportionately hurt the poor because, according to CBO, they spend 21.4 percent of their income on energy-intensive items.

To top it all, there is no guarantee that this approach will actually reduce greenhouse gasses. In the European Union (E.U.), which has a cap and trade system in place, greenhouse gas emissions increased between 2000 and 2006, according to the European Environment Agency (EEA). At the same time, many energy-intensive industries relocated from Europe to North Africa and the former Soviet Union, in part, to escape the E.U. “cap and tax” system, and now emit even more pollution than before.



What’s ironic is that according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), greenhouse gas emissions decreased in the United States from 6.29 million metric tons to 6.09 million metric tons between 2000 and 2007 without a “cap and tax” system -- this reduction was accomplished through voluntary goals, technology improvements, and conservation. Simply put, a “cap and tax” system that is not duplicated around the world, particularly among larger emerging nations, will only result in our manufacturing jobs, particularly in energy intensive industries, and our pollution problems transferred abroad. As the senior Republican on the Asia, the Pacific & the Global Environment Subcommittee, I know that any climate change legislation or agreement that excuses China from serious and verifiable commitments will simply accelerate and make irreversible the trend of making China the manufacturer for the world while increasing global greenhouse gas emissions.

There is a better alternative. That’s why I agreed to co-sponsor the American Energy Innovation Act (H.R.2300) because it represents a positive, incentive-based alternative to meet our energy needs as we transition to non-carbon-based sources for our future energy needs. It does so by increasing environmentally-safe energy production on remote lands and far off our shores; promoting the use of alternative fuels that will reduce carbon emissions, such as nuclear, clean-coal, and renewable energy technologies; and encouraging conservation to preserve and protect our natural resources.

“Cap and tax” only attempts to combat one form of air pollution. The issue is dealing equally with all forms global pollution -- air, water, and ground. Let’s do everything in our power to promote effective, proven solutions through innovation and incentives to limit global pollution without the unintended consequence of simply shifting our jobs and our pollution problems to other emerging nations that do not take this problem seriously. The command-and-control, government-knows-best solution, which is currently being debated in Congress, is the wrong approach because it will impose serious costs to our struggling economy without any assurance that “cap and tax” will reduce global pollution.