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Government

Lummis votes against ‘Cap & trade’

Written by Jennifer Womack
Cheyenne — Supporters call H.R. 2454 the “American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009” or the Waxman-Markey bill. Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) calls it a national energy tax and voted against the legislation when it came before the U.S. House on June 26.
    Sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the legislation passed the House in a 219 to 212 vote on June 26. According to the website www.opencongress.org, only eight Republicans voted in support of the legislation. H.R. 2454 will allow a certain amount of emissions, but would allow American businesses to purchase credits if they need to surpass their allotted share. The cost of those carbon credits would be passed on to American consumers who utilize their products.
    “All over the United States, families are struggling to pay their bills and put food on the table,” Lummis said. “Nearly one in 10 Americans find themselves without a job and nowhere to turn. Instead of finding solutions to create more jobs and ease the economic burden on the American people, congressional Democrats have turned a blind eye to the plight of these people by enacting the largest tax hike in history.”
    Shawn Taylor, Executive Director of the Wyoming Rural Electric Association, said his group estimates the legislation will significantly drive electrical costs. If CO2 were trading at $50 a ton, the rate environmentalists say it needs to reach to effectuate behavioral change among Americans, Wyomingites would see their electric rates climb by 58 percent. At $20 a ton rates are anticipated to go up 32 percent. With the government auctioning the carbon credits to the highest bidder, Taylor said there’s no limit on ownership, including the possibility of foreign ownership. Proceeds, he said, would fund items with little to do with the environment, like national healthcare.
     Lummis said, “The national energy tax will lead to higher costs to create energy by American industries and will be passed directly onto the American consumers who use it, disproportionately impacting lower-income families and all working Americans. It will have a devastating impact on the price at the pump and utility bills, and will dramatically hinder the use of Wyoming coal. It will wreak havoc on family budgets, small businesses and family farms.”
     “Make no mistake, this bill is a job killer,” said Lummis. Various studies suggest anywhere from 1.8 million to 7 million American jobs could be lost when energy-intensive facilities and the energy industry they depend on must change the way they do business – or relocate overseas – to meet sweeping new government mandates. Wyoming’s energy-based economy will likely be one of the first to suffer from these job losses.”
     Lummis said, “This bill is being characterized as part of a solution to solve global warming. Yet, even the President’s own Council of Economic Advisers’ Report says that global carbon dioxide emissions will be virtually unaffected by U.S. carbon reductions unless countries like China and India participate – and they’ve given no indication that they will.”
     Lummis supports an alternative plan called the “American Energy Act, which she says will create jobs, protect the environment and lower energy prices. She explained, “Our bill will increase domestic energy supplies and create new jobs by easing restrictions on building zero-emission nuclear power, producing on the Arctic Coastal Plain, the Outer Continental Shelf, and oil shale in the Mountain West. Revenues generated through domestic production will then be used to support innovation in renewable and alternative energy sources, like wind and solar technologies, energy efficiency measures, and emerging technologies like carbon capture and sequestration.”
     Lummis said, “This plan encourages innovation within the energy market to create the renewable fuel options and energy careers of tomorrow. It promotes greater conservation and efficiency by providing incentives for easing energy demand and creating a cleaner, more sustainable environment.”
    Agricultural groups are split in whether or not they support the legislation. National livestock organizations have largely come down in opposition of the measure. In a recent letter to Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.), Speaker of the House, and  John Boehner (D-Ohio), House Minority Leader, the Public Lands Council wrote, “Economists have estimated that the climate change bill would cause farm income to drop anywhere from $8 billion in the short term to $50 billion long term. The livestock industry has suffered significant economic setbacks lately, and if these estimates are close to being accurate, this bill would very likely push many ranching operations over the edge.” The group said the legislation would create a hardship for ranchers who work every day to improve the environment while the benefits provided by the legislation are marginal.
    Agricultural organizations in support of the legislation see the industry playing a key role in reducing emissions and providing offsets. Taylor questions whether money received for carbon offsets will be greater than the increase in electrical bills agricultural folks could experience.
    Supporters of the legislation claim it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent before 2020 and by 80 percent by 2050 compared to 2005 levels.
    “The Senate is taking a much more measured approach,” said Taylor of the legislation’s potential on the Senate side. Wyoming’s delegation, he said, will have a greater opportunity to get involved given Senator Barrasso’s (R-Wyo.) positions on the Environment and Public Works Committee and the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
    Jennifer Womack is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..