I understand the real concerns that we share as a nation when it comes to protecting our environment, but we should do it in a way that does not hurt our chances to improve the economy and put people back to work.
While many of my colleagues have argued that giving the EPA the ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions is the answer to our energy problems, I disagree. This action would give an unelected and unaccountable government agency the power to impose restrictive and damaging carbon dioxide regulations that will drive up energy prices and hurt job-creating small businesses in our country.
Groups trying to politicize this issue will say that this resolution is an attack on the Clean Air Act. But the EPA is looking to dramatically expand its powers into new areas. The bottom line is that we cannot have every restaurant owner or small farmer worried about the costs of complying with new carbon dioxide emissions restrictions. This is why I am supporting Sen. Lisa Murkowski's resolution to oppose these costly new EPA regulations.
As I continue meeting with Massachusetts residents and small business owners, they all say the same thing: "We need to get this economy moving again." For that to happen, America's businesses need the confidence to invest in new opportunities. What Bay State businesses don't need is the federal government arbitrarily passing down restrictions that would dramatically restrict their potential for growth by saddling them with higher costs.
Our national unemployment rate is hovering near double digits and Massachusetts energy prices keep going up. No matter how you feel about Cape Wind, there is no arguing that the cost of electricity generated by this particular project comes at a high premium. The billions of dollars in extra costs will be passed on to Massachusetts ratepayers. Now is not the time to further increase energy prices, add to administrative costs for businesses, and create massive new layers of government bureaucracy.
Furthermore, imposing this regulation of emissions is something that will affect every aspect of our economy and every American. We cannot allow these decisions to be made by an unelected bureaucracy; this is an issue that deserves a full debate in Congress.
There are ways to renew our national commitment to cleaner sources of energy without breaking the back of our economy. That includes encouraging greater energy efficiency in our homes, vehicles and offices. It means significant investment in developing additional sources of natural gas and allowing for new nuclear power generation.
We must also foster the development of renewable sources of energy. We should pursue incentives and logistical assistance to encourage our automotive fleet to move away from oil toward natural gas, efficient battery technology, and other low carbon transportation fuels. It means more funding for basic research into the energy breakthroughs of tomorrow, such as algae-based fuel.
What is clear is that we need to tap the entrepreneurial spirit of America to address these significant issues. Massachusetts is home to some of the world's top technology leaders, companies and institutions and we should explore tax cuts and other efforts that directly encourage them and leaders in other states to find new, cost effective solutions. We have great potential to transition to a nation focused on clean energy, and we must act, but we must do so in a way that maximizes potential job benefits.
This is not a political issue. It is our responsibility to find an approach that promotes economic growth and sustains environmental stewardship for future generations. What we must not do is open the door to unnecessary regulation that makes it harder for businesses to compete.
Scott Brown represents Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate.