Two Roads to America’s Energy Future

In his poem, “The Road Not Taken,” Robert Frost paints the perfect picture of today’s debate on America’s energy future. Here, Frost describes two paths leading in two different directions, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

Much like the subject of Frost’s poem, America today finds itself at a crossroads. There are two diverging paths we can choose with regard to this nation’s energy policy. The road we ultimately choose will indeed make all the difference.

Despite growing job losses, some in Washington, D.C. have decided a recession is the ideal time to impose a massive new cap and trade energy scheme. Cap and trade is Washington-lingo where the federal government imposes a federal ceiling on carbon emissions and then sets up a complicated market for entities to buy and sell the right to emit carbon at levels under the cap.

Going down this road leads to a regressive national energy tax that intentionally increases energy prices on every American consumer, restricts economic growth, and aims to dictate and regulate Americans into a new “green” energy future. To put this in more concrete terms, some studies indicate the Democrats cap and trade proposal will raise electricity prices by 90% and gasoline prices by 74%. Now for some folks, energy price hikes of this nature may be more of an inconvenience than a hardship, but for low-income families already spending one out every five dollars on energy bills, these increases will have a devastating impact on already struggling family finances.

With more job loss on the horizon, we simply cannot afford to take chances with policies that will allow energy costs to “necessarily skyrocket” as President Obama stated when responding to the likelihood that energy prices will increase as a result of “cap and trade” policies.

History has shown that taxes and regulations do not lead to job creation. Yet, here we are again entertaining the standard tax and mandate policies taken from page one of the Democrat playbook. Instead of forcibly confiscating more and more dollars from struggling taxpayers, we should be helping not hindering Americans to get back on their feet by allowing them to keep more of their hard earned money.

Representing just one of the thousand-plus bills the so-called “Party of No” has introduced so far this Congress, the Congressional Western Caucus and the Republican Study Committee recently introduced the American Energy Innovation Act (H.R. 2300). This bill provides a competing energy vision for the country; one we believe is shared by the majority of the American people.

Our proposal provides a comprehensive, forward-thinking approach to how we address today’s energy and job creation needs, and one that goes in an entirely different direction than the Democrat’s approach. The path we believe we should travel looks to innovation, conservation, and production as the means to greater economic prosperity, a cleaner environment, real job creation and realistic environmental achievements in the near future.

This alternate energy vision is premised on the idea that tax increases never lead to job creation and that arbitrary government mandates only stifle American ingenuity. It is based on historical evidence that progress in the environmental arena follows economic prosperity, not the other way around.

As our nation stands at this crossroads of America’s energy future, we must recognize that the federal government can never dictate and regulate our way to job creation and energy independence. The best thing we can do for the environment is to have a strong, vibrant, growing economy. The path we propose recognizes that government doesn’t create jobs. The private sector does. The best thing government can do is to reduce burdens and remove hurdles. In other words, government needs to just get out of the way.

While there may be a majority of Democrats in Congress who believe we should go down the cap and trade path, I couldn’t disagree more.

I suggest we take the path less traveled.