Opinion

Cap-and-trade legislation is bait-and-switch | Angie Vogt

The recent cap-and-trade legislation that was passed in Congress is a first class demonstration of why we need term limits.

Regardless of party affiliation, our Congress does not work for our interests, but they work for the myriad interest groups that finance their re-election campaigns.

The media has trumped this legislation in such a way that most people believe this is a battle for a smarter energy policy. Certainly, when you look at District 9 U.S. Rep. Adam Smith’s statement (a Democrat) and District 8 Congressman Dave Reichert’s statement (a Republican), one would think that the 1,200-page legislation is a tough-love approach designed to get Americans off oil dependence and to force innovation and cleaner energy practices.

Even the title sounds noble: “American Clean Energy and Security Act” or ACES. This title is designed to appeal to our pro-Earth sensibilities (“clean energy”) as well as national security fears (“American” and “security” in the same phrase). It’s disappointing that it delivers neither clean energy nor American security, yet its price tag to taxpayers in pork and giveaway incentives alone approaches several billion dollars.

It was released from committee at five in the morning, giving the House just a few hours to discuss this massive government power grab and wealth re-distribution scheme before being forced to a vote by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Speaker simply could not afford to let the public catch wind of this corrupt government swindle. Her vote tally was already shaky, with a significant number of Democrats balking at this monstrous bill. Of course, it is cleverly designed so that the costs won’t hit us until after the 2010 elections.

Voters should know that there is nothing in this bill that actually contributes directly to cleaner air or cleaner energy. It’s filled with selective punishments and selective exemptions from punishments for carbon emitting industries. (You realize of course that while reading this article, you have emitted carbon into the atmosphere. Check your meter and make sure you are still within your government allocated ration).

Those industries that the cap-and-trade bill names as polluters (that is, the businesses that did not show up at the pork-fest lobby into the final minutes before voting) will have to pay for exceeding their allocation of carbon credits. They will face stiff fines or, if they choose, they may purchase unused carbon credits from other businesses. The cost of doing business for companies already breaking under the current economy is fast becoming unsustainable.

In the end, 44 Democrats and 168 Republicans voted against the bill. It passed by a mere seven votes and only due to the billions of pork promises to legislators who were on the fence. Had the mere eight Republicans that voted for the bill decided to follow their party recommendation and vote against this legislation, it would not have passed. Thank you, Dave Reichert, for being our state’s Republican contribution to Nancy Pelosi’s dream of fleecing the American family business.

Especially disturbing was how easily the co-sponsors of the bill handed out billion dollar concessions to utility groups, coal mining lobbyists and natural gas drillers to the point of undermining many of the environmental goals of the bill. Most atrocious was the last minute concession to Democrat Colin Peterson from Minnesota to protect corn growers producing ethanol from the effects of the bill.

We now know from documented, independent studies that it requires more petroleum to produce one mid-size car tank of ethanol than it does a tank of gasoline. In fact, ethanol production is doing more damage to the world food supply and contributes more to soil erosion and greenhouse gases than traditional fossil fuel generation. Yet because of the special interests invested in this so-called “green” energy resource, it’s too late to put that genie back in the bottle. We are stuck. As long as we keep the current Congress employed, we are stuck.

The current administration promised not to raise taxes on Americans making under $250,000, yet has advocated this $821 billion legislation, assuring us that costs to consumers and middle-class Americans will be minor. We are expected to believe what District 3 U.S. Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) claims: That the average cost to the American family will be a mere 42 cents (the cost of a postage stamp).

By the calculation of several independent think tanks, this new legislation will increase electricity costs for Americans by up to 75 percent and gas by 51 percent, either directly through business dealings or indirectly to the consumer. It will kill jobs and move them into the far bigger pollution generating countries such as China and India.

What is sad to see is that scientific interests, while claimed by many, are nowhere to be found.

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