Heavy price for emissions rollback

And yet, despite our economic maladies, Democratic leaders are pursuing a reckless climate bill that would bankrupt America’s working families with no guarantee of helping the environment.

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.

Study after study has predicted cap-and-tax will result in skyrocketing energy bills and massive job losses. And now an unlikely source, the Department of Treasury, confirms our worst fears in recently released documents that suggest our economy could be sent into a permanent recession under a cap-and-trade regime.

The bombshell documents were initially released in mid-September in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. However, Treasury inexplicably blacked out vital analysis specifically related to the costs of cap-and-trade. Upon urging Secretary Timothy Geithner to come clean and release the documents in their entirety, Treasury finally acquiesced, and it became clear that the administration had a dirty little secret — that their own calculations predict cap-and-trade will devastate our economy.

One document prepared by Treasury analyst Judson Jaffe states cap-and-trade “will raise energy prices and impose annual costs on the order of tens (and potentially hundreds) of billions of dollars.” Upon examination of the documents, CBS News pegged the annual cost at more than $400 billion a year.

What is particularly exasperating is that for some time, leading Democrats have repeatedly misled working families by claiming cap-and-tax will only cost them a “postage stamp a day” when their own data have predicted otherwise all along.

With these newly released documents, there is no doubt that cap-and-trade is nothing more than a national energy tax that puts an enormous bull’s-eye on the backs of working families to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars each year.

It is not just Beltway analysts or Treasury officials who are forecasting exorbitant costs to families. In my corner of Michigan, Consumers Energy predicts hefty rate increases for families, in excess of 38 percent over the next 15 years, just to comply with cap-and-tax. The increases will surely be higher, as Consumers did not take into account inflation, rising fuel or construction costs. Some local manufacturers in Michigan say they will cease operating during the daytime and solely operate at night when electric rates are cheaper.

Efforts to improve the legislation in the House with constructive amendments were blocked every step of the way. We sought to add consumer protections to safeguard working families, but each time were rebuffed. Efforts to include the world’s leading emitters – India and China —were also thwarted.

Meaningful climate legislation requires global participation, especially that of India and China. According to the July 16 edition of The New York Times, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said that if China’s emissions of greenhouse gases keep growing at the pace of the last 30 years, the country will emit more in the next three decades than the United States has in its entire history.

Without international participation, jobs and emissions will simply shift overseas to countries that require few, if any, environmental protections, harming the global environment as well as the U.S. economy.

Our alternative, the “all of the above” American Energy Act, will reduce emissions, create jobs and keep energy costs affordable. A principal component of our legislation calls for the construction of 100 new nuclear reactors over the next 20 years. According to data from Oxford Economics, building 100 new nuclear reactors and an appropriate number of enrichment and reprocessing plants over the next 20 years would create over 1 million new jobs. Nuclear is not only emissions-free, but renewing our commitment to nuclear power will create countless jobs at a time when our nation endures near double-digit unemployment.

We have a unique opportunity and responsibility to both reduce emissions and preserve our economy. The American public is desperate for solutions, but a national energy tax is not the answer.

Upton is ranking member of the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.