Domestic Energy

Floor Speech

By:  Marsha Blackburn
Date: May 5, 2009
Location: Washington, DC

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Mrs. BLACKBURN. I thank the gentleman from Illinois for his leadership on this issue and for hosting this Special Order hour. I am so pleased to come and join with you and discuss the issues that we have before us with the Democrats' national energy tax, or the cap-and-tax legislation as some call it, or cap our growth and trade our jobs, or, Mr. Speaker, many people refer to cap-and-trade as just that, because it is certainly what they are going to do.

Now, we also know that if they don't get their way on cap-and-trade, what they are talking about doing is an end run and coming back around and letting the EPA regulate CO

2 emissions under the Clean Air Act. Indeed, I have a bill, H.R. 391, that I would encourage all colleagues in this House, all Members of this House to sign on and support this bill and keep the EPA from going around against the will of the people and regulating CO

2 emissions under the Clean Air Act.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is very interesting that as we are having this hour tonight and as we are looking at the logic of EPA and the logic of some of my colleagues, I wonder if we have considered that if you look at the EPA's threshold of 25,000 tons of CO

2, that would make you a major emitter, if we have considered that the EPA threatens to use that regulation against every business, every farm, every church, or every building in this country. And, of course, before the EPA gets the chance to regulate CO

2, many of our colleagues want to come in and tax it right here so that they can both regulate the air that we breathe and tax the air that we both breathe and then that we exhale.

The debate that we have before us is not about making energy cleaner; it is not about making energy more plentiful. What we would see happen from this debate is that energy would become more and more scarce, and we also would see that the cost to every family would be more and more expense.

So, here we are. We are talking about cap-and-trade; we are talking about the expense of it. And as expensive as energy costs got last year, we are not going to take any action that will make it more plentiful, we are not taking any action that would make it more readily available, we are not taking actions that are going to make it cleaner, and we are not taking actions that are going to make it more affordable. Indeed, the legislation before us would do quite the opposite.

So I join the gentleman from Illinois in being from a State, my State of Tennessee, that would be among the hardest hit by this new energy tax and by the efforts that are coming from the other side, indeed, their efforts to make energy more expensive. My colleagues on the other side of the aisle have conveniently forgotten how quickly economic slowdowns follow escalating energy costs. They have forgotten how dramatically high gas prices impacted family budgets last summer. They look upon the increased use of mass transit in the wake of those energy costs as a positive development, forgetting that in many rural districts like mine in Tennessee there is no mass transit, there is no bus service that goes from Waynesboro to Adamsville to Selmer. There is no mass transit in these rural communities. And in picking winners and losers--which they do in this legislation; they pick lots of winners and decide who is going to be the losers--they are asking the American people in their bill to make a choice between very expensive energy or no energy at all. All their scheme will cap is American productivity and trade American jobs.

Now, I think, Mr. Speaker, that if you were to ask each and every Member of this House, we would all say that we believe in clean air, clean water, and clean energy. We believe in conserving our environment for future generations.

Certainly, I grew up in a household with a mother who dedicated much of her life to conservation and beautification and preservation and historic preservation efforts, so much so that in 1997 Keep America Beautiful gave her their lifetime achievement award. We grew up doing the things that helped clean this planet, looking for ways for energy to be more affordable and more accessible.

Now, Republicans as a whole believe in that type conservation for future generations. We do not believe that you need to tax the American people out of their house and home to pay for it, a house, by the way, which under a cap-and-trade system is going to be hotter during the summer and colder during the winter.

Republicans believe that we have more alternatives than wind and solar as sources for clean, secure energy. We know that we can safely exploit American oil resources to provide for a less expensive transition to alternative fuels. We know that we can power a next-generation electricity grid with safe nuclear power that will allow for practical electric cars and reliable transmission, rather than forcing the costs of energy to explode so that Washington might fund yet another expansion of the Federal Government.

Tennesseans know that hydroelectric power is safe and reliable. It is clean. It has powered our State for two generations. What bewilders me is that these kinds of innovative solutions are discouraged under the Democrat cap-and-tax system. It reinforces my belief that this bill is more about revenue than it is about revolutionary energy.

We should be doing things to encourage our innovators. We should be doing things that will incentivize exploration and transition to new types of energy, rather than making it more expensive, making it more scarce, and cutting off energy and innovation.

Republicans have proposals for safer, cleaner, cheaper domestic energy that will conserve our resources, secure our energy sources, and expand our economy. We do it without picking losers but, rather, by inspiring that innovative spirit that has solved problem after problem after problem in this Nation. We do it without making energy more expensive and more burdensome to the family budget. We do it without making power more scarce, but by making it more abundant.

I thank the gentleman from Illinois for his leadership on this issue, and I encourage all of our colleagues to join us in making certain that we stand against cap-and-trade and also that we support H.R. 391, which will prohibit the EPA from regulating CO2 emissions under the Clean Air Act.

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