Over the past month, news reports have suggested that the Majority in Congress are considering a lame duck session, following the November elections, to push controversial and far-reaching legislation. Members of Congress who have retired or been defeated for reelection are asked to vote on legislation during lame duck sessions, before their successors can be sworn in. Historically, lame duck sessions have been reserved for uncontroversial legislation or legislation essential to the operation of the federal government. This year, the Majority is rumored to be planning on pushing initiatives they have been unable to advance throughout the past two years and 'Cap and Trade' legislation is at the head of their agenda.
On June 26, 2009, I joined a bipartisan group of 212 Members of Congress in opposing the Waxman-Markey Clean Energy and Security Act (HR 2454), also known as the "Cap and Trade" bill. Comparable legislation in the Senate, S.1733, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, was reported out of the Committee on Environment and Public Works on February 2, 2010, and similar bills and discussion drafts have also made news headlines. Both the House and the Senate have had ample time to consider these proposals under regular procedures, however the Majority has been unsuccessful in selling their proposals to the American people.
The Majority has labeled their proposals as a path to reach American energy independence while also creating "green jobs" during a time of record unemployment. But in reality, the bill would result in higher energy costs for all Americans, make the road to recovery even more difficult for small businesses, and cost our economy even more jobs.
The State of Ohio has lost approximately one of every three manufacturing sector jobs, over 326,000 jobs in the past nine years according to Cleveland based economist George Zeller.
Montgomery County in particular, has lost over 53 percent of its manufacturing jobs in that time span, significantly contributing to the county's current 11.6 percent unemployment rate. Despite these struggles, manufacturing still employs over 120,000 people in the 12-county region surrounding Dayton and contributes $1.6 billion in annual payroll and $2.3 billion in economic development.
The restrictions placed on U.S. manufacturers by the Cap and Trade energy bill would place them at a competitive disadvantage with other nations, encouraging relocation of additional American jobs overseas. We cannot afford to implement policies that will further burden our state's manufacturing base.
Furthermore, 'Cap and Trade' legislation would be detrimental to Ohio agriculture. Agriculture is Ohio's number one industry and the state's diverse agricultural, horticultural, and forestry industries contribute more than $94 billion to the state's economy every year. The 2007 Census of Agriculture, run by the United States Department of Agriculture, estimated that the over 5,400 farm operators in my district alone contributed around $228 million dollars worth of products into the economy in one year. These increases in energy costs will be distributed across all sectors of the economy further exacerbating current economic struggles.
When DHL's announced their plans to relocate their international business operations from Wilmington to Northern last year, approximately 2,500 people in Clinton County and 2,300 people in Highland County lost their jobs.
Many of those workers were local farmers who worked at the airpark to get their benefits. Since the Airpark closed, many of those families have had to use the income from their farms as their the primary source of income to pay their bills and put food on their tables. The majority's energy proposals would place an even greater burden on these families when times are already tough. The legislation would increase the operational costs of their agricultural operations, further cutting into their earnings that were once supplemented by their airpark jobs.
As unemployment persists at around 10 percent, it makes little sense to enact legislation that will increase utility and energy prices and force greater economic hardship directly on Ohio families.
These increases in energy costs will be distributed across all sectors of the economy, further exacerbating current economic struggles.
Reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil is a pressing issue facing this nation; however, it must be done in a commonsense way that does not greatly endanger our economy.
Rather than disrupt the economy and place restrictions on American energy sources, Congress should promote policies which rebuild our economy and provide consumers with reliable and affordable energy. In addition, any energy proposal should be moved through Congress in an open, transparent, and orderly process, with a high regard towards the views of the American people as expressed in the election.
United States Congressman Michael Turner represents Ohio's Third Congressional District.