When Speaker Nancy Pelosi engineered the ouster of the House dean, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), from his chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee to install her chief environmental henchman, Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), we knew to expect a double dose of legislative toil and trouble.
Now reaching 1,000 pages — several hundred more than the erstwhile $787 billion stimulus — Waxman and Rep. Ed Markey’s energy plan belches from the caldron of liberal ideology, a potent potion of across-the-board tax hikes and job losses, putting the final choke on an already suffocating economy.
By creating a complex market system to regulate carbon emissions, this plan guarantees that energy prices will “necessarily skyrocket,” exactly what President Barack Obama promised last November.
Here’s how the Democrats’ plan would work: The federal government will establish a cap on carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions and then impose that cap on the nation’s energy producers — already among the most highly regulated industries in our economy — and other industries. A limited number of emission allowances will be distributed to favored industries for free. The remaining allowances will be sold at auction, and every five years the cap will be lowered to reach congressionally determined targets.
Over time, companies that use less than their emission allowances will be allowed to sell the overage to competitors on an open carbon market. As businesses scrape up the shrinking number of allowances, the rising cost will assuredly be passed along in our monthly energy bills. That’s in addition to indirect energy costs — the price increase for everyday goods and services — that will hit low-income Americans the hardest.
And Waxman-Markey doesn’t stop there. In addition to putting the squeeze on carbon-based energy — which today produces nearly 70 percent of all electricity in the United States — the bill relies on expensive and unproven carbon capture and sequestration technologies to work. And while these technologies hold great promise, they are years away from widespread use in America.
Once energy costs start “skyrocketing” and businesses large and small are forced into government-subsidized renewable energy production, entire regions of coal-producing states will see their local economies tank and thousands of jobs lost. Of course, this doesn’t account for the manufacturers who will relocate to countries that don’t adopt business busting, draconian schemes like the one the Democrats now propose.
According to a recent Heritage Foundation analysis, Waxman-Markey will raise the average American family’s annual energy bill by $1,500 and kill approximately 1.1 million jobs by 2035. When all is said and done, there will be two certainties in Nancy Pelosi’s House: higher taxes and the death of jobs.
There is much collateral damage associated with Waxman-Markey. Once carbon trading begins, market speculators are almost certain to start leveraging their investment risks to blow up a carbon bubble in the same way the housing bubble overinflated and burst the American economy.
Moreover, Waxman-Markey promises to generate a new wave of lobbyists attempting to influence how Congress doles out emission allowances. For a president and a speaker who pledged to send Washington lobbyists scurrying from Capitol Hill like cockroaches, this bill creates an out-and-out lobbyist utopia. Just last week, the most prominent lobbyists for climate change legislation crowded into the Energy Committee’s markup session for the bill.
I represent the people of a state that claims the most aggressive and environmentally conscious energy policies in the nation. I’m all for the creation of “green jobs” — but not when the cost is the impulsive annihilation of hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs in carbon-based industries. I’m in favor of funding the research and development of new technologies that can free us from dependence on carbon-rich fossil fuels, but only in a way that incentivizes innovation rather than punishing hardworking Americans.
Congress should pursue responsible steps to reduce our unsustainable fossil fuel dependence and improve our energy efficiency. What Pelosi and the Obama administration have offered us, however, are more political gamesmanship, higher taxes and fewer jobs.
While Waxman-Markey might serve the interests of lobbyists, liberal environmental elites and labor unions eager to corner the “green job” market, it does so with a great violation of the public trust that Congress was established to uphold.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is the ranking member on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.