Waxman-Markey bill: All pain, no gain

Republicans want clean, American, affordable energy that protects jobs and family budgets. What Republicans cannot support are higher energy prices that will result in new taxes, lost jobs, and unfairly hurting America’s heartland while helping send jobs to China and India.

In this time when Missouri and all of America are struggling through the toughest economic times in several generations, we should be working to keep down new costs to family budgets and worker payrolls. Energy costs take a big bite out of our daily expenses, whether it’s powering, heating or cooling our homes and businesses, putting fuel into our cars and trucks, or even buying groceries at the market. Of course, we all remain concerned about how energy usage affects our environment and what it means for our ability to live independently of other nations. Therefore, we should support clean energy, American energy and most importantly, affordable energy. At the same time, we should oppose raising energy prices, killing American jobs, and hurting the Midwest and South while helping our competitors in China and India.

In reviewing carbon cap and trade legislation in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, of which I am a member, we have received disturbing testimony on how the Waxman-Markey legislation will hurt farmers and families and kill jobs. We received a report from the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri-Columbia that showed how higher energy costs from Waxman-Markey will cost the representative commercial farm in Missouri over $11,000 in 2020, rising to over $30,000 in 2050. Farmers would see higher production costs for seed, fertilizer, chemicals, custom hire and rentals, fuel, drying and irrigation, maintenance and interest.

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Analysis we conducted of data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration using the Waxman-Markey program formulas showed that power bills in Missouri and 12 other states across the Midwest and South, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Florida will go up over $500 million each in 2015. With carbon prices going up and the bill’s cost mitigation benefits going down, costs for consumers will only rise in future years. This will hit families not only in their power bills, but also in the pain they feel at the pump, and combined with the higher farm prices from above, the pain they will feel at the grocery store checkout counter.

We also received a report from the National Black Chamber of Commerce that found that Waxman-Markey will cut employment by over 2.5 million net jobs even after taking into account whatever new “green” jobs we add. Not liking these figures, some on the Committee tried to question the integrity of the National Black Chamber of Commerce in presenting this data, but I did not. What I did question is why we would raise energy prices and kill jobs in a time of high unemployment and severe economic distress.

Much of the job loss by American workers will be China’s gain. While companies such as General Electric seek to profit from Waxman-Markey mandates, we heard in Committee how General Electric closed six incandescent light bulb factories in Ohio and established the world’s largest compact fluorescent light bulb factory in Xiamen, China. The move garnered GE criticism of unfair Chinese worker exploitation and unsafe working environments. It also raised my concern that government green energy mandates resulted in lost U.S. jobs and new Chinese jobs.

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I do support new American green jobs, and expanding our American clean energy sources will produce them. Missouri has led the nation in biofuels from corn and soybeans, and is working on new cellulosic fuels from biomass and algae. We are a center of new battery technology and are producing all electric trucks and hybrid SUVs. Domestic mass production of hybrid and plug-in vehicles will help the environment, lower costs for consumers, and provide good paying manufacturing work.

I am a big fan of nuclear power, the nation’s largest source of carbon-free energy, and look forward to its expansion in America. Developing affordable and reliable technology to utilize coal without emitting carbon will help keep prices low in coal-dependent states like Missouri and provide other major coal using countries like China with clean technology solutions. We should also pursue wind and solar where it makes economic sense. All of these things, along with environmentally friendly drilling for oil and gas off our own shores, are American sources of energy that will keep us independent of our adversaries and ensure plentiful supplies to keep prices lower.

What I do not think makes sense is legislation that will impose massive new costs on our families, farmers and drivers and massive new job losses on our workers with no benefit to the climate. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Jackson testified before our Committee that U.S. cap and trade legislation that is not joined by similar efforts in China and India will have no effect on world temperatures. A solution that means all pain for the U.S. and no gain for the climate makes no sense to me.

Bond is a member of the Senate Energy and Water Development Subcommittee in Appropriations.