This time last year, gas prices had soared to $3.60 a gallon on the way up to a high of over $4.00 per gallon. Hard-working families across the country were outraged over the lack of American energy independence, and I joined a group of House Republicans in leading an energy protest on the House Floor during the month of August when the House Democratic leadership elected to go home to their districts for a six week long recess. They took this vacation instead of remaining in Washington to take action on legislation that would have created an "all-of-the-above" energy strategy for our nation, that would put us on the road toward energy independence - and bringing down the cost of gasoline.
Now, President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and House Democrats have their sights set on a different type of energy policy, and this one could really cost American families and businesses. Calling it "cap and trade," House Democrats are proposing to enforce new artificial standards on American manufacturers and energy producers which will increase the cost of doing business and force them to cede market share to overseas competitors who will not be subject to these limits on carbon dioxide emissions.
A cap and trade system sets a limit, or cap, on carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels that produce carbon dioxide. Companies that exceed specified allowance for emissions would be forced to purchase additional credits from other companies, driving up the cost of doing business. At a time when American companies are already struggling to keep their doors open, Democrat leaders in Congress want to INCREASE their costs and drive more business overseas for a policy that provides no guarantee of having a positive effect on the environment.
Furthermore, guess who gets to decide which industries and businesses deserve more or fewer carbon credits - that's right, the federal government. We have already seen the Democratic leadership attempting to decide the winners and losers in banking by bailing out some companies and allowing others to fail. They are now trying to take that mentality to energy production and consumption. All Americans will lose because as we will inevitably see companies close and unemployment rise.
In addition to hurting industry, this cap and trade policy - or "cap and tax" - will also increase energy costs for essentially every household in America - to the tune of an additional $3,000 a year. Their "cap and tax" proposal includes a renewable energy standard that will require electricity manufacturers to use 25% renewable resources for energy production by 2025. By limiting the acceptable list of renewable energy resources to wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, or existing hydropower, House Democrats are ensuring that energy costs will rise for all Americans. In southern states, we simply do not have enough wind and sun to keep the lights on and keep our homes heated in the winter and livable in the summer. Instead of rewarding states like Georgia that are ready to move forward with safe nuclear power, this proposal arbitrarily selects renewables instead of allowing science and innovation to dictate what is needed.
Worst of all is that there is no evidence that this "cap and tax" proposal would do anything to stop "global warming." Scientists agree that global warming is caused by a multitude of factors, some natural and perhaps some man-made. The Administration and House Democrats are proposing to spend trillions of dollars to remove what amounts to a very small quantity of carbon dioxide contained in our atmosphere. Greenhouse gasses make up less than 2% of the atmosphere, and of that percentage, carbon dioxide makes up around 3.5% of all greenhouses gasses. Very little of that amount is man made, since natural carbon combustion occurs frequently. One glaring example of that is the 2005 Hayman fire in Colorado which produced more carbon dioxide that year than its entire population combined.
Instead of creating energy policy that stifles business and drives up costs for consumers while at best questionably "helping" the environment, we should be focusing on solutions that truly sever our reliance on foreign sources of energy. I have cosponsored the American Energy Innovation Act - legislation that encourages innovation within the energy market to create renewable fuel options that will work in this country, promotes greater conservation and efficiency, and most of all focuses on increasing the responsible production of American energy by utilizing the many resources and reserves we have within our borders.
This "all-of-the-above" energy approach includes wind and solar, but also encourages hydro and nuclear power. This strategy recognizes the benefits of conservation and incentivizes good practices, instead of punishing hardworking manufacturers who are struggling to make ends meet. By using all of the vast resources that are readably available in our nation, our plan truly makes energy independence a reality.