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Cap-and-Trade Not the Answer

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

CAP-AND-TRADE NOT THE ANSWER -- (House of Representatives - June 26, 2009)


Mr. McCLINTOCK. Mr. Speaker, I had a strange sense of deja vu as I stood here on the floor of the House and watched all of the self-congratulatory rhetoric a few moments ago on the passage of the cap-and-trade bill, and I feel the need to rise to issue an urgent warning from the west coast.

I stood on the floor of the Senate of California 3 years ago and watched a very similar bill adopted and watched the same sort of self-congratulatory celebrations as we just saw here, and I have watched over those years as that measure has dramatically deepened California's recession. It uses a slightly different mechanism than cap-and-trade, but the objective is exactly the same, to force a dramatic reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

Now, up until that bill took effect, California's unemployment numbers tracked very closely with the national unemployment rate. But then, in January of 2007, California's unemployment rate began a steady upward divergence from the national jobless figures. Today, California's unemployment rate is more than two points above the national rate and is at its highest point since 1941.

What happened in January of 2007? AB 32 took effect and it began shutting down entire sectors of California's economy.

Let me give you just one example from my own district. The city of Truckee, California, was about to sign a long-term power contract to get its electricity from a new EPA-approved coal-fired plant way off in Utah. But AB 32 and companion legislation caused them to abandon that contract. The replacement power that they acquired literally doubled their electricity costs.

So when economists warn that we can expect electricity prices to double under the cap-and-trade bill, I can tell you from the bitter experience of my district that that is not some future prediction. That is a historical fact.

Governor Schwarzenegger assured us at the time that AB 32 would mean an explosion of new, green jobs--exactly the same promises that we heard on this floor today.

Well, in California exactly the opposite has happened. We have lost so many jobs that the UCSB economic forecast is now using the D word--depression--to describe California's job market.

Mr. Speaker, the cap-and-trade bill proposes what amounts to endlessly increasing taxes on any enterprises that produce carbon dioxide or other so-called greenhouse gases. We need to understand exactly what that means. It has profound implications for agriculture, construction, cargo and passenger transportation, energy production, baking and brewing--all of which produce enormous quantities of this innocuous, ubiquitous compound. In fact, every human being produces 2.2 pounds of carbon dioxide every day--just by breathing.

So applying a tax to the economy designed to radically constrict carbon dioxide emissions means radically constricting the economy. And this brings us to the fine point of the matter.

When we look back on the folly of the Hoover administration and how it turned the recession of 1929 into the Depression of the 1930s, the first thing that economists point to is the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act that imposed new taxes on 20,000 imported products.

The Waxman-Markey bill, I'm afraid, is our generation's Smoot-Hawley that imposes new taxes on an infinitely larger list of domestic products on a scale that utterly dwarfs Smoot-Hawley.

Let's ignore for the moment the fact that the planet's climate is constantly changing and that long-term global warming has been going on since the last ice age. Let's ignore the fact within recorded history we know of periods when the Earth's climate has been much warmer than it is today, and others when it's been much cooler. Let's ignore the thousands of climate scientists and meteorologists who've concluded that human-produced greenhouse gases are, at most, a negligible factor in global warming or climate change.

Ignore all of that and we're still left with one lousy sense of timing. In the most serious recession since the Great Depression, why is it that Members of this House want to repeat the same mistakes that produced the Great Depression?

Watching how California has just wrecked its own economy and destroyed its own finances, why would Members of this House want to do the same thing to our Nation?

Mr. Speaker, this is deadly serious stuff. It transcends ideology and politics. This House has just made the biggest economic mistake since the days of Herbert Hoover.

Two things are certain if this measure becomes law. First, our planet is going to continue to warm and cool, as it's been doing for billions of years. And, secondly, this House will have just delivered a staggering blow to our Nation's economy at precisely that moment when the economy has been the most vulnerable.


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