Over the next few weeks, the House of Representatives will dedicate significant energy to debating a proposal that will increase utility bills, raise the price of a gallon of gas, push food prices to new heights and generally increase the cost of nearly every consumer product in an attempt to hastily address the issue of global climate change.
While no one disputes that legislative proposals to impose a “cap and trade” program to limit carbon emissions will increase the cost of energy production, the effects will be particularly severe on states like Kentucky that produce the majority of their electricity from coal. One of Kentucky’s principle competitive advantages for economic growth is the low cost of our electricity. As the third-largest coal-producing State in the nation, more than ninety percent of Kentucky’s electricity is produced from coal. Being able to utilize the valuable resource in our backyard keeps Kentucky’s energy prices relatively low; in fact, Kentucky has the fourth lowest electricity costs in the U.S. However, should “cap and trade” legislation be enacted, Kentucky’s energy costs will skyrocket as electricity generated from coal will become significantly more expensive.
Thanks to “cap and trade,” each and every Kentuckian will see their electricity prices increase by an average of $1,798.23 annually. Meanwhile, electricity prices in California, which is the largest importer of electricity from other states, will only rise by an average of $126.45 per person. Enacting such a program – which amounts to a national energy tax – will only cause additional hardships for our families and communities, increase national unemployment rates, and slow our economic recovery.
We must insist on a better solution. In order to have a measurable effect, any attempt to combat climate change must be a concentrated global effort. Analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency shows that a 60 percent reduction in U.S. carbon emissions by 2050 would only reduce the global temperature by 0.1º C to 0.2º C by 2095. Meanwhile, the Heritage Foundation estimates the implementation of a “cap and trade” program in the U.S. could cause 900,000 job losses as American jobs get shipped overseas to countries with lower operating costs.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement on April 17 that greenhouse gases pose a threat to public health and welfare may give the Administration a backdoor to impose a “cap and trade” program without approval from Congress.
The best way to protect the environment and our economy is by encouraging the development of new technology that will produce cleaner energy. We must adopt a comprehensive energy policy that will create jobs, keep our energy prices low and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. In the short term, we must make responsible use of all our domestic resources. Next, we must turn our focus on alternative fuels and incentives for increased efficiency and conservation. In the long run, we must make strategic investments in energy research so that the fuels of the future are safe, clean and affordable for all Americans.
We must work to preserve our environment and resources for future generations; however, we must also avoid burdensome environmental regulations that will stall our economic recovery and sacrifice American jobs. Congress and the Administration need to hold a comprehensive debate, wherein all sides are represented, to produce a national energy and environmental strategy that will carry America forward.
Congressman Geoff Davis