Janesville75.1°

‘Cap and tax’ scheme will hit us hard

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Rep. Paul Ryan
July 2, 2009

The last thing Wisconsin families need is higher energy prices. But the House passed H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which would do just that. By requiring all energy producers to buy expensive government permits in order to produce energy from certain natural resources or to produce certain goods such as steel or cement, cold-weather states such as Wisconsin will take direct hits in higher energy costs. As a result, I voted against this measure.


While this bill’s proponents promise new “green” jobs and less reliance on oil, they ignore what American taxpayers already pay to support cleaner energy production. Taxpayers already provide a nearly 40 percent subsidy rate for solar and wind producers; $15 billion per year for other renewable energy sources and conservation programs; $24 billion for the energy-related portion of the Department of Energy’s budget; and $39 billion to the so-called “stimulus” bill for other energy projects.


But they claim we need to spend more. Their plan’s “cap and tax” scheme claims it can slow global warming by raising the cost of fossil fuels, which provide 86 percent of U.S. energy. The bill’s authors tried to reduce its impact on households through complicated allowances, tax credits and rebates; but the fact remains: this plan will raise the cost of energy by $1 trillion over the next 10 years—12 times our current energy spending. That cost will fall on American families through higher energy prices, higher taxes, more government debt or a combination of all three.


It will cost taxpayers on average $3,000 per year and raise taxes by more than $840 billion. The impact on Wisconsin will be especially severe. Estimates from the Congressional Budget Office and the Energy Information Administration predict Wisconsin families alone will shoulder an extra $230 million in energy costs as a consequence of this bill. The 1st District of Wisconsin is predicted to lose roughly 3,000 jobs.


We are already suffering the closures or pending closures of major car factories in Janesville, Kenosha and Oak Creek. Racine’s unemployment rate recently broke 10 percent. It is unacceptable for Congress to consider legislation that would drive out even more American jobs and force businesses to close down.


Meanwhile, some studies show “cap and tax” might move global temperatures a fraction of a degree by the end of this century—a shift so small that it might be impossible to measure. But for every ton of carbon we avoid, China, India and Russia will produce many more, putting the U.S. economy at a clear competitive disadvantage.


A better approach would be to make energy cheaper, not more expensive; to facilitate an economy operating at full potential, not below it; to encourage domestic production of oil and gas in an environmentally responsible manner, not demonize it; and to encourage all forms of clean energy, including emissions-free nuclear power.


These are the common-sense principles for creating a cleaner environment and a stronger economy in the 21st century that I will continue to support.


Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, serves Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District. Readers can reach him through his Janesville Constituent Services Center, 20 S. Main St., Suite 10, Janesville, WI 53545; Washington, D.C., phone is (202) 225-3031.

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