Waxman-Markey: Death Knell for U.S. Jobs, Low-Cost Energy

Waxman-Markey: Death Knell for U.S. Jobs, Low-Cost Energy

June 22, 2009
Originally published in The Hill

Perhaps the most destructive legislation in our country’s history will soon be voted on in the House — the Waxman-Markey tax bill in the guise of addressing climate change. It will have dire consequences for every American. It will raise the cost of energy with little or no environmental benefit. Independent experts estimate that it will cost Americans more than $2 trillion in just over eight years.

The Midwest, South and Rocky Mountain regions will be most drastically affected because the climate change legislation will destroy the nation’s coal industry and the availability of low-cost electricity. Wealth will be transferred away from almost every state to the West Coast and New England.

The most abundant and by far least-expensive energy source in our country for generating electricity is coal. America’s coal reserves rival the energy potential of Saudi Arabian oil. Unfortunately, the proposed climate change legislation in the House forces America to throw away this tremendous resource, and our low-cost electricity with it.

The Waxman-Markey bill sets an unattainable cap on carbon dioxide emissions by 2020, with the first reductions due by 2012. Under the program, businesses that emit carbon dioxide would be required to purchase or obtain from the government special carbon dioxide credits. This carbon dioxide cap will force utilities to switch from lower-cost coal to natural gas or other, more expensive energy sources. Reliable estimates show this bill will increase the cost of energy for each American family by at least $3,000 each year, notwithstanding the $2 trillion cost to the economy in just eight years.

The supporters of this misguided legislation point to two provisions that they claim will help coal. The first is that they give electric utilities free credits. However, those credits are worth millions of dollars, and the utilities will be free to sell the credits and use the proceeds to build more expensive natural gas or nuclear power plants, and not use our lowest-cost fuel — coal. Second, the authors of the legislation invest money in carbon capture and storage technology, claiming that this will save jobs. But, this technology will not be commercially available for at least 15 to 20 years, long after the reductions are required in 2012 — and long after our coal plants are shut down and our manufacturing jobs are exported to China, India and other countries.

It is not too late to tell Congress to kill this flawed bill. Everyone should call their congressional representatives and ask them to vote no on the Waxman-Markey climate bill and to support affordable energy, American jobs and our quality of life.