Punishing the poor
by Missouri Rep. Ed Emery (R-126 including the counties of
Barton, Dade, Jasper and Polk)
"When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which weseparated." -Thomas Jefferson
The Federal "Cap & Trade" bill, H.R. 2454 was passed by the U.S. House in late June and is now awaiting Senate passage. If passed it will penalize all but a very few states with higher electric rates. These higher rates will bring neither improved reliability nor increased supply. The cap and trade scheme creates an artificial market of a government-devised commodity with no intrinsic value - "carbon credits." The trading of these credits will generate high incomes for the "traders" but produce no benefits for the consumers who will be paying the traders' salaries and bonuses.
Missouri will be especially hard hit due to our reliance on secure, and low-cost domestic coal supplies. The Heritage Foundation, an issues think-tank, estimates that with implementation of the House bill, your increased costs by the year 2035 will approach 90% for electricity and 74% for natural gas averaging $1500 per year for the average home owner's energy needs.
As chairman of the Missouri House Utilities Committee, I spend considerable time understanding and addressing energy issues. In 2009 I filed HB 554, comprehensive energy legislation to make it possible for Missouri utilities to secure the financing necessary to construct large, expensive, and long-life generation facilities such as nuclear plants. Increased reliance on nuclear plants for base load generation would reduce Missouri's dependency on coal and natural gas - both carbon-based fuels. HB 554 was passed by the Utilities Committee with bi-partisan support but never made it onto the House calendar. I plan to file a revised form of this legislation in 2010.
In the mean time, Missourians need to understand and oppose H.R. 2454 which could produce irreparable harm to Missouri families, businesses, and especially the poor. As energy rates increase, the wealthiest can invest in efficiency measures to reduce their energy use. Some may even be able to afford personal electricity generation from wind or solar. However, the poorest among us already spend a larger portion of their wealth on energy and cannot afford efficiency improvements. The negative impact that high energy prices have on the economy impacts the poor first as companies fail, surviving businesses cut back, and unemployment increases.
"Cap and Trade" will make real energy reforms more difficult. For example, increased reliance on "interruptible" power supplies like wind or solar make electric car advances less likely. The appeal of electric cars hinges on ubiquitously supply. The weather is simply too unpredictable for an energy-driven society. What is more likely is that localized, unregulated generation will become more popular, and clean air will be a casualty. The bottom line is that all will suffer, but the poor will suffer the most. Regardless of your position on global warming, it is clear that "cap and trade" is bad for America and even worse for Missouri.