$3 trillion gas tax, thousands of job losses cited
Washington, DC - Legislation intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions being debated before the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee should incentivize and broaden our national energy portfolio in a way that does not come at the expense of our economy. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, a member of the EPW Committee, said the bill as written could result in tax hikes and cost increases for consumers and industry that would, on balance, fall far short of the benefits it could have on climate change.
Crapo said prioritizing the growth of carbon-free energy sources should continue. But he noted increasing the commitment to nuclear power production through incentives and loan guarantees could result in the largest reduction in greenhouse gases sought under the legislation.
"I am a strong advocate for wind, solar and geothermal energy," said Crapo, the Co-chair of the Senate Renewables and Energy Efficiency Caucus. "But we need more nuclear incentives. The bill's own language notes that nuclear power is the largest provider of clean, low-carbon electricity, almost eight times larger than all renewable power combined, excluding hydroelectric power. Instead of just reporting the benefits of nuclear power, we need a robust incentive program including loan guarantees and new efforts to address regulatory burdens and delays in nuclear power production."
Crapo acknowledged the need for a balanced energy portfolio. "Our country is far too dependent on petroleum, especially from foreign sources. This situation creates a threat to our national security and our economy. We need to increase domestic production of petroleum while we build a bridge to a strong national energy policy that allows us to become more diversified."
Developing national policies on energy and the environment does not have to come at the expense of American taxpayers and consumers, Crapo noted. He feared the cap and trade provisions in the legislation would damage an already-struggling economy. Crapo pointed to studies saying the bill has the potential to eliminate more than 7,000 jobs in Idaho alone and create a gas tax on Americans in excess of $3 trillion.
"There is not a person on this Committee who opposes a reduction in air pollution," Crapo said. "But imposing a massive energy tax on the American people will bring more hurt than benefit. A report from the National Association of Manufacturers says my state of Idaho could lose between 7,000 and 10,000 jobs when high energy prices force reductions in industrial output.
"This bill hits all Americans right in their wallets, at a time when we can't afford more economic problems. This legislation would promote more than $3 trillion in new taxes on gasoline and energy. Idaho's schools, universities and hospitals could see 20% increases in their energy costs by the year 2030 under this plan," Crapo added.
S. 1733, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, has been introduced by EPW Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts). The EPW Committee may hold a formal markup on the legislation as soon as next week.
A copy of Crapo's remarks is available at his You Tube site at http://crapo.senate.gov.