Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) today issued to following statement on H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act:
"The House considered a major cap-and-trade' energy bill, H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, today. Also called the Waxman-Markey' bill, the measure, which passed by a narrow 219-212 margin, sets up a new regulatory scheme aimed at curbing carbon dioxide emissions and in the process transforming the way Americans use energy.
"I did not support this deeply flawed over 1,000-page bill that was fast-tracked through the House without bipartisan participation and with only one of the nine committees of jurisdiction actually writing the bill. Not only was this legislation rushed through the committee process, the House Rules Committee reported the final rule to consider the bill with 300 new pages added in what was called the manager's amendment' at 3:47 a.m. this morning, less than six hours before the House was set to come into session to begin consideration of the bill at 9 a.m.
"I believe it was irresponsible of the House leadership to give members such little time, and in the middle of the night, to review additions to the already massive legislative package. Minority Leader John Boehner used time during his floor remarks to read portions of newly added sections of the bill so that the House and the American people would know what was included. He highlighted numerous provisions, some of which add millions of dollars to the cost of the legislation, including: energy-efficient loan standards for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the establishment of green' banking centers, and the requirement that localities accepting funds employ a full-time team of people in a building code enforcement office.
"This measure will establish a cap-and-trade' system in which emissions of greenhouse gases would be capped overall and allowances for such emissions would be given away initially to polluters and later sold at auction. The measure also requires electric utilities to produce 6 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2012, and 20 percent by 2020. It also sets new energy efficiency and water use standards for buildings and consumer products.
"I recognize and understand that our country must move away from its dependence on carbon emitting fuels, but this legislation is not the answer. In reviewing the cap-and-trade' bill, I believe it has the potential to drive up energy costs, reduce jobs, and translate into a national energy tax that will hit every person in our country at a time people can least afford it. Americans are hurting because of the recession. The president himself predicted we will soon have 10 percent unemployment. We should not be putting American jobs and the American people at even greater risk during an economic downturn by instituting an untested and complex plan that will touch every family and every business that uses oil-generated products. According to one independent analysis, the bill could raise gasoline prices by 74 percent, or above $4 a gallon. We all remember last summer and the impact of $4 gas on the pocketbooks of Americans and our economy.
"Another independent study projects that the Waxman-Markey' bill could cause between 2.3 million and 2.7 million net jobs lost annually, even with the new "green" jobs that supporters say would be created by the legislation. With its new mandates on businesses, the bill will place increased costs on American manufacturers, costing American jobs in two ways: either domestic manufacturers will move overseas to places like China, India or Mexico, or American companies in energy intensive industries will be driven out of business by overseas rivals that undercut their prices. I am alarmed that America is already losing its competitive edge in the world economy. Once bustling U.S. cities and towns that were home to industrial manufacturing bases are shuttered and crumbling. How will the U.S. remain competitive with countries like China and India that have no plans to regulate carbon emissions in their growing economies?
"I have been working since 2006 on a plan to ensure the future financial stability of our country and am alarmed by the estimated loss in the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) from this legislation's new regulatory mandates. I just don't think we can afford the risks to our current economy that this cap-and-trade' legislation poses. Our economy is already teetering and facing an historic debt of $11 trillion and $56 trillion in unfunded entitlement costs, not to mention the $1.8 trillion budget deficit just this year alone. There are predictions, too, that our country could lose its AAA credit rating in just a couple of years. My plan is called the SAFE (Securing America's Future Economy) Commission and would force Congress to act on recommendations to put our economy on a sustainable track. More information is available at www.wolf.house.gov/SAFE.
"Our country has always been the world's innovation leader, and I believe innovation and not taxation must be the answer to the energy challenges we face. That's why I supported an amendment which would have substituted the Waxman-Markey' bill with a New Manhattan Project for Energy Independence, creating incentives for private-sector innovation and bringing together the best and brightest minds of a new generation of scientists, engineers and researchers in a unified national challenge just as we did with the original Manhattan Project in World War II.
"Like the first Manhattan Project, which was launched to ensure the security of our country, today our national security depends on our ability to produce reliable, cost-effective and environmentally friendly sources of energy to fuel our economy. The New Manhattan Project calls for the United States to achieve 50 percent energy independence in 10 years and 100 percent energy independence in 20 years and will award competitive grants to the first individual or group who can reach any of seven bold energy goals. Those include: doubling car fuel efficiency to 70 mpg while keeping vehicles affordable; cutting home and business energy usage in half; making solar power work at the same cost as coal; making the production of biofuels cost-competitive with gasoline; safely and cheaply storing carbon emissions from coal-powered plants; safely storing or neutralizing nuclear waste, and producing usable electricity from a nuclear fusion reaction. Just like the challenge of the 20th century's space program to put a man on the moon in a decade, I believe a unified effort such as a New Manhattan Project is the challenge of the 21st century and could transform our nation's energy security. Unfortunately, the New Manhattan Project amendment was not adopted by the House.
"In my opinion, the cap-and-trade' plan the House considered is the wrong solution at the wrong time. We can do better, and I hope there will be another opportunity to vote on an energy plan that protects our economy and the American people."