The price families pay to turn on their lights, put gas in their cars, heat their homes, and stock their food supply will skyrocket if some in Washington succeed in passing a new carbon tax called cap and trade. Cap and trade, or cap and tax as it should be known, would impose a fee on carbon released during energy production.
This energy tax would devastate the U.S. economy and families already struggling to make ends meet. The Heritage Foundation estimates a cap and trade law would raise the average utility costs for a family of four by $829 per year. The same analysis also shows gasoline prices would rise by 58 percent.
Cap and trade would also hurt businesses by putting U.S. workers at a disadvantage compared to Chinese and Indian workers who are not subjected to the same regulations. For manufacturers looking to locate new facilities, energy prices are a major consideration, so it is imperative to keep U.S. energy costs as low as possible. A cap and trade policy could force many companies to ship jobs overseas. The uncertainty created by the prospect of more government regulations and higher taxes next year is stalling job creation at a time when we can least afford it.
Last year, the House passed a cap and trade bill, H.R. 2454, and proponents of the ill-advised legislation will continue to push for a vote in the Senate. I am opposed to this job-killing proposal and will work to defeat it if the bill comes to the Senate floor. Raising any taxes during the current economic slowdown is irresponsible. Mississippi families cannot afford increased taxes or higher energy costs.
The Ongoing Moratorium
A new energy tax represents only one of the short-sighted energy policies on the table. Five months ago, the President issued a moratorium on drilling new wells in the Gulf of Mexico and other regions of the U.S. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that domestic production will decrease by 31,000 barrels per day in the fourth quarter of 2010, and by 82,000 barrels per day in 2011. Each barrel the U.S. fails to produce requires us to import a barrel from foreign sources. Our current reliance on foreign oil not only threatens our national security but also weakens our economy and ability to create American jobs.
Shallow water oil and gas producers seeking permits also face dramatic new restrictions, even though shallow water techniques, technology, and risks are far different from deepwater drilling. In May, the administration lifted the moratorium on shallow water production, but in the following days, the Interior Department issued confusing rules creating a de facto moratorium. The administration's decision to hamper shallow water drilling with substantial bureaucratic red tape is arbitrary and should stop.
American energy producers include hundreds of small businesses, which devote themselves to generating the fuel our economy needs. Electricians, fabricators, boat crews, caterers, and uniform suppliers all help facilitate the work that occurs on offshore rigs. Each of these roles creates good-paying blue and white collar jobs, employing thousands along the Gulf. The uncertainty caused by the moratorium threatens these jobs and local economies.
Lack of Comprehensive Strategy
The American people want lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to focus on commonsense solutions to address the problems we face. In the next Congress, I hope we can develop a comprehensive energy plan to provide a path toward energy independence. America needs a balanced and responsible energy approach to decrease our dependence on foreign oil. Although we need to reduce our use of fossil fuels, we should recognize that our economy cannot function without traditional sources of energy. American oil and gas is abundant, affordable, and available now. In addition, we need to develop alternative energy and enhance our nuclear power capabilities.
Nuclear power represents the future of clean energy. However, environmentalists block many of the sensible policies that would allow the U.S. to expand its nuclear energy production. Last month, Entergy Mississippi appealed to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to expand the capability of its Grand Gulf facility near Port Gibson. Projects like these will help meet our future energy needs.
The United States uses 25 percent of all the energy consumed in the world. We must unlock the ingenuity that America is known for to solve our energy problems and reduce our reliance on foreign energy sources.