By Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) - 12/08/09 01:50 AM EST
Study after study has predicted cap-and-tax will result in skyrocketing energy bills and massive job losses. Cap-and-trade will particularly be a dagger to the Midwest. The carbon mandates under cap-and-tax would mean that the United States could not emit more in the year 2050 than we emitted in 1910, essentially requiring us to scale back our emissions to a per capita level equivalent to that of the tiny coastal nation of Belize. Unfortunately, it will be working families who are already struggling that will be left holding the tab.
The landscape has changed dramatically since the June vote — national unemployment has eclipsed double digits, Treasury documents surfaced that pegged the annual costs of cap-and-trade in the hundreds of billions of dollars, and now, as we approach Copenhagen, the summit is engulfed in the cloud of the climategate e-mail scandal.
At a time when our economy can least afford it and every alarm bell is ringing for us to hit the brakes and regroup, the administration is pushing full speed ahead. Just Monday, in a move that could devastate our economy, the administration signaled that the EPA with its “endangerment finding” may remove Congress from the discussion, essentially handing over the keys to our economy to the EPA. If we leave the task of reducing emissions to the EPA, the consequences will be grave — gasoline prices will skyrocket, electricity costs will spike, jobs will rush overseas, and the environment will not be any better off. The stakes could not be any higher.
By overturning EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases, we can pursue a thoughtful approach to climate change and achieve bipartisan consensus on policies that are, believe it or not, good for the environment and the economy.
We should take an “all of the above” approach to reducing emissions, with an emphasis on renewable sources of energy like wind and solar, as well as nuclear power. While supplying just 20 percent of our electricity, nuclear power accounts for an extraordinary 70 percent of our nation’s emissions-free electricity. It defies reality to ignore nuclear power as a reliable solution to addressing climate change, as it already plays a commanding role in cutting greenhouse gases. And a commitment to nuclear power could also be the engine driving our economic recovery.
According to data from Oxford Economics, building 100 new nuclear reactors and an appropriate number of enrichment and reprocessing plants in the United States over the next 20 years would create over 1 million new jobs.
As a consequence of not having constructed a new nuclear facility in nearly 30 years, an entire manufacturing sector has literally been shuttered. When the two nuclear plants just miles from my doorstep in southwest Michigan were constructed three decades ago, nearly 85 percent of the components were proudly made here at home by U.S. workers. Today, as new plants come online, 85 percent of the parts are made overseas.
While we have seen a majority of the component-construction and manufacturing jobs in the nuclear industry migrate overseas, we have a unique opportunity to bring those jobs back home. Since June, many of the world’s leading nations, including China, Japan, South Korea, India, France and Britain, have pursued a robust nuclear portfolio. There is no reason that we cannot stamp “Made in America” on the parts and components for reactors being built here at home and those in construction abroad.
And if there is anything to learn from this month’s discussions in Copenhagen, it is the world’s leading emitters understand the importance of nuclear power in reducing emissions. We also can take a cue from the world in how to recycle, reprocess and permanently store spent fuel in the wake of the Obama administration’s alarming detour from the decades-in-planning Yucca Mountain repository.
Much has changed over the last six months, and if the vote were held today, I am confident the House would put the interests of working families first and defeat cap-and-tax. The administration has seen the writing on the wall with yesterday’s Soviet-style move to push Congress aside and seek to anoint the EPA with unprecedented authority. The EPA cannot compel the world’s leading emitters, particularly China and India, to reduce emissions. By giving the EPA such unbridled control, any economic recovery will be suffocated as energy prices and job losses skyrocket, all with negligible environmental benefit to show for it.
We now have a unique opportunity to regroup and pursue commonsense policies that will reduce emissions and preserve our economy. With national unemployment soaring, working families deserve better in Washington and in Copenhagen.
Upton is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.