You've probably seen the slick, negative ads on TV, claiming that I voted against the "American Clean Energy and Security Act" because of contributions from "big oil and energy interests." These accusations are dishonest and false. They are designed to confuse you and disparage me. The legislation these ads endorse is bad for America and even worse for Montana.
The ad doesn't tell you that I joined 212 Members of Congress, including 44 Democrats, in voting against this legislation. The ad doesn't tell you that not a single Representative, Republican or Democrat, from Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, North Dakota or South Dakota voted for this bill. And the ad doesn't tell you that Senator Max Baucus voted against similar legislation in the Senate when it came before his committee.
In addition to those important facts, which were conveniently left out, there are a few other things you need to know about this attack ad.
First, it's important to understand who's behind these ads. Although the ad claims to be funded by the Montana Conservation Voters, this campaign is actually part of a massive multi-state effort orchestrated by the Washington, D.C.-based League of Conservation Voters (LCV).
Since 2000, LCV has spent more than $6.8 million peddling influence among elected officials. They've also spent untold millions on "issue ads" like this one, including approximately $150,000 to run these ads in Montana. If you're wondering why you can't see the actor's face, it's because LCV is also running the very same ad in other states against five other Members of Congress. They just swap out the name.
Second, we need to clarify what legislation we're talking about. The ad refers to the "American Clean Energy and Security Act," but this legislation is more commonly known as the "Cap and Trade Bill" or the "Cap and Tax Bill." It's a bill that will impose enormous costs and hidden taxes on oil, gas and coal energy production. While these traditional energy sources remain an integral part of our energy supply, I support the comprehensive use of our vast energy resources and all other options to achieve true energy independence for America. This means an "all-of-the-above" energy plan that includes oil, natural gas, coal, wind, geothermal, biomass, solar and nuclear energy.
Cap and Tax is particularly bad for Montana and other rural Western states. At a time when our economy is hemorrhaging jobs, the non-partisan Heritage Foundation warns that Cap and Tax will cost more than 8,600 jobs in Montana alone. In places like Sidney or Colstrip, real Montanans work real jobs that depend on traditional sources of energy. Montanans sit on a huge stockpile of energy -- including oil -- and we are ready and willing to meet a growing national demand. That's why I'm proud to support oil and coal production in Montana.
I also support the development of alternative energy sources, but not through a government-controlled Cap & Tax program that distorts the market and increases costs on an already overburdened and struggling economy.
In 2005 I helped pass The Energy Policy Act, which included support for ethanol and other clean fuels, new federal standards for increased energy efficiency, permanent tax incentives for wind and solar energy production and increased production of domestic energy to reduce our reliance on unstable foreign sources of oil. It also created cash incentives for the development of new technologies including the first economically feasible 100 miles-per-gallon vehicle.
I've also used my influence on the Appropriations Committee to provide funding for the Center for Zero Emissions Technology (ZERT), at Montana State University. Clean coal, carbon sequestration and increased wind energy production are just some of the ways that Montanans are making themselves a part of the solution.
Instead of working toward common sense solutions, Cap and Tax will actually increase the cost of energy by thousands of dollars for Montana families. More than 60 percent of our energy comes from coal, which will also be impacted negatively by Cap & Tax. Even Montana's ag producers will pay more for their fertilizers. This means fewer dollars in your pocket at the end of the day.
This legislation, combined with the other taxes, deficit spending, and debts that are being recklessly forced on taxpayers through health care bills, stimulus bills, bank bailouts, auto company bailouts and budget increases, are threatening America's jobs and our children's futures.
A 30-second attack ad written by a suit on Madison Avenue in New York City and paid for by a Washington, D.C. special interest group won't drive the debate for what's good for Montana. We can support clean energy and reduce pollution without Washington D.C. raising our taxes and our energy bills. Let's do what's right not only for Montana, but for the environment and for America. And let's do it honestly.