Gerlach: Cap-and-Trade Bill Bad for Pennsylvania Workers and Families
Congressman Jim Gerlach (PA-6th District) was among 44 Democrats and 168 Republicans who stood up for workers and families on Friday by opposing new, job-crushing regulations that will cost Pennsylvania thousands of jobs and push the cost higher for everything from turning on a light to opening a box of cereal.
The House voted 219-212 to pass the legislation known as cap-and-trade (H.R. 2454), which gives the federal government greater control over manufacturers and companies that generate the electricity used to light and heat our homes.
The measure faced bipartisan opposition from members of the Pennsylvania delegation. Keystone State Democrats Tim Holden, Jason Altmire, Christopher Carney and Kathy Dahlkemper voted against the bill.
"While the bill included some positive provisions to develop alternative and renewable energy our country needs, I voted against this bill because of the devastating effect it will have on working families and the people who create jobs in my district and across Pennsylvania," Gerlach said.
The bill includes a massive, 300-page amendment that was not available for anyone to read until 3 A.M. on Friday.
"It is just an egregious example of trying to rush a bill through the House without proper and reasonable time for debate," Gerlach said. "The way the bill is written now, the cost of electric, natural gas, gasoline and other fuels will increase. Fuels that farmers rely on to run their tractors and equipment to harvest food will become more expensive. Fuels that manufacturers need to power their equipment and produce goods will become more costly. And those higher costs will be passed onto families at the grocery store, at the hardware store and at the gas pump.
"There is no doubt that we need more energy produced right here in America. We need an all-of-the-above energy strategy that offers incentives to develop renewable energy and green jobs. Incentives such as the research and development tax credit for green energy entrepreneurs that I helped become law last year.
"While supporters of this bill claim that science is on their side, there's no evidence that establishment of this cap and trade system in the United States will have any appreciable effect on global warming in the future because China and India - two countries that produce incredible amounts of greenhouse gases -- are not doing anything to curb their carbon emissions. Therefore, this bill will result in unilateral economic disarmament without corresponding improvement to our climate worldwide."
During a roundtable meeting Gerlach hosted in the district on Tuesday, small business owners and a Pennsylvania Public Utility Commissioner made it clear that this legislation will be catastrophic for Pennsylvania workers and families.
PPL Corporation officials have estimated that the Waxman-Markey bill passed by the House is likely to increase electricity bills by 25 to 30 percent. That's in addition to the estimated 25 percent rate hike anticipated when Pennsylvania's rate cap expires next year.
A 55 percent increase in PPL rates would mean a family paying $100 per month for electricity would see their bills climb to $155 per month. PPL has about 30,000 customers in the 6th District.
Robert F. Powelson, a Pennsylvania Public Utility Commissioner and a former President and Chief Executive Officer of the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry, said during the roundtable meeting that Pennsylvania is the nation's fourth-largest coal producer and almost 60 percent of our electricity in this state comes from coal-powered plants.
He added that the Waxman-Markey bill ignores the state's effort to reduce carbon emissions and does not address the use of abundant coal waste deposits as a possible alternative energy resource.
"This is a bad piece of legislation, and, for Pennsylvania, it is going to have a profound impact on job creators," Powelson said. "Your constituents (in the 6th District) are going to pay for this."
Several small business owners at the roundtable discussion feared that cap-and-trade would put them out of business.
Alan Brink of Spring City Electrical Manufacturing, a cast-iron foundry, estimated the cap-and-trade bill will cost $750 per employee.
He said adding costs means reducing manufacturers' ability to compete with India and China where more than twice as much carbon is pumped into the air compared to their American counterparts.
Brink said fair trade provisions aimed at preventing China and India from swiping American jobs are too weak.
"I'm not going to have the money or the time to go down to Washington (to petition for relief)" Brink said. "A lot of us guys are going to be out of business, so you can't do something after the fact."
Len Korzon of Morgantown-based Titanium Metals Corporation said a 30 percent increase in utility rates resulting from cap-and-trade would cost the company $2 to $3 million per year.
"It's going to spur a new wave of movement off-shore of manufacturing," Korzon said.
Gerlach added the Majority seemed to realize this measure would put Americans out of work because it includes a program giving displaced workers 156 weeks of unemployment benefits and up to $3,000 per person for job search assistance, moving expenses and job counseling.
"It would make more sense to put our energy into passing bills that keep jobs in America and allow workers to continue receiving paychecks instead of unemployment checks," Gerlach said.
The Cap and Trade Toll
The Heritage Foundation estimates that 1,600 construction jobs, 1,000 retail and whole trade jobs and 4,400 manufacturing jobs will be lost in the 6th District.
According to U.S. Census data, more than 49,000 residents in the 6th District are employed in the manufacturing sector, which is 13 percent of total work force.
Higher Electric Bills
A recent study by PJM - the Regional Transmission Organization serving Pennsylvania - estimated the average residential electric customer would pay an extra $400 per year.
PPL estimates rates could soar by 55 percent due to cap and trade and expiring rate caps in Pennsylvania.
Higher Gas Prices
An American Petroleum Institute report shows that cap and trade would raise the price of gasoline as much as 77 cents per gallon, 83 cents per gallon for jet fuel and 88 cents per gallon for diesel fuel.
Ignores Pennsylvania's Progress in Curbing Emmissions
Pennsylvania has an 18 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard to reach by 2020 thanks to Act 129.
Little Impact on Climate Change
During House consideration of this legislation, no reports or studies have been identified or put forward by the bill's proponents, the EPA, or any other scientific body to show that enactment of the bill will lead to a substantial reduction in global warming if China and India do not undertake comparable carbon emission reduction programs. Further, climatologist Chip Knappenberger estimated -- using the IPPC climate sensitivity model -- that this bill would moderate temperatures by only hundredths of a degree by 2050 and would reduce global temperature by no more 0.2 degrees Celsius by 2100. This calculation, according to The Heritage Foundation, was based on the climate impact of the United States acting alone. Without a large reduction in the carbon dioxide emissions from both China and Indianot just a commitment but an actual reductionthere will be nothing climatologically gained from any restrictions on U.S. emissions, regardless whether they come about from the Waxman-Markey bill (or other cap-and-trade proposals), from a direct carbon tax, or through some EPA regulations.
In another analysis of cap and trade policies conducted at MIT in the spring of 2007, scientists found that cap and trade will work only if other nations, including developing countries, adopt similar restrictions on carbon emissions. "The purpose of U.S. mitigation measures is to substantially reduce the amount of climate change we would otherwise experience," the researchers concluded. "Our results confirm the well-known fact of global climate change: to meet temperature or concentration goals requires concerted efforts from much of the world over a substantial period of time. With rapid growth in developing countries, failure to control their emissions could lead to a substantial increase in global temperature even if the U.S. and other developed countries pursue stringent policies."