A study in contrasts: Letters from my Congressmen on Cap & Trade

Let’s start with the first letter I received. This is from Senator Bill Nelson in response to my letter regarding cap & trade legislation:

Thank you for contacting me regarding cap-and-trade legislation.

I am interested in cap-and-trade programs because they would let the market, not the government, dictate how to lower harmful emissions. I believe that we have the technology and ability to meet the challenge of climate change in a way that will provide new economic opportunities and make us more competitive internationally while protecting consumers from high energy prices and breaking our dependence on oil.

Global warming threatens Florida’s fragile ecosystem and $56 billion tourism industry. Rising sea levels will encroach on Florida’s pristine beaches and harm coastal wetlands and the Everglades. Increased carbon dioxide and water temperatures will damage sensitive coral reefs and endanger Florida’s diverse marine species. A scientific study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded with 90 percent certainty that global warming is caused by the accumulation of man-made greenhouse gasses.

On June 26, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. The Senate is expected to consider legislation to address energy independence and climate change in the fall.

I will continue to work in the Senate to fight the effects of global warming. I appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts with me, and I respect your views. Please feel free to regarding any additional issues of concern.

Senator Bill Nelson

We had some fun a few days ago with this letter. I am still thinking about how to respond to it. Currently I’m leaning toward taking on the role of a real environmentalist who is pissed off that he is cheapening the validity of the movement through support for this bill. It should be pretty easy to make the case that actual funding for protection of the Everglades will be hurt due to the distraction caused by this bill.

Now contrast Senator “Crazy” Nelson with Representative Bill Posey, who sent me this letter:

Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns about global warming legislation being considered in the Congress. I appreciate hearing from you and share your concerns.

The Waxman/Markey-Cap and Trade National Energy Tax legislation (H.R. 2454) that passed the House on June 26, 2009 could cost the average family anywhere $750 and $3,100 per year. Keep in mind that Washington typically underestimates the cost of legislation, thinking they can get them into law before the American people know the true cost. This bill includes budget gimmicks hiding the full cost.

This 900-plus-page bill started out as legislation aimed at improving the environment, but it has become a means of raising money to pay for larger, more intrusive government while having little impact on the global environment. This is how it works in layman’s terms:

Washington places a limit (cap) on carbon emissions and pegs it to the output level of a certain year. The government auctions off carbon emission permits for energy producers, refineries, and factories to purchase (usually through speculators) in order to emit more carbon. Many credits are given away to special interest groups. If a company needs to meet a rising demand for energy, it will have to purchase permits to do so. The cost of purchasing these credits will simply be passed on to the customer (you) in the form of higher prices.

The idea behind “Cap and Trade” is to purposely increase the cost of energy that is produced using fossil fuels like natural gas, coal, or petroleum. Nearly 85% of electricity across the U.S. is generated using these sources of fuel. The price of everything you buy will go up, even food, because there will be a hidden national energy tax built into the price of everything.

One leading Democrat Senator told the Washington Post that, “This is the greatest revenue generating [read tax] proposal of our time.” It’s all about taking more money from everyday Americans so politicians can spend it on their favorite programs.

Estimates are that this bill will have a negligible effect on the global environment. Carbon emissions from U.S. competitors in China, India, and the rest of the developing world are exempt from these caps and they will continue to increase emissions at levels that far outstrip any reductions in the U.S.

This costly national energy tax will put American products at a competitive disadvantage and further erode our ability to compete with China, India, and the rest the developing world. The result will be the loss of at least millions of jobs, as more jobs move to countries that will not impose these caps on their citizens. It’s no wonder China has essentially endorsed this energy tax bill. With a national unemployment rate nearing 10%, it’s estimated that this tax will cost Americans another 2.5 million jobs.

I oppose this plan and will vote against it because it is not good for the American worker, small businesses, seniors on fixed incomes, or families struggling to pay their mortgages and other bills. Washington doesn’t need more of your money, it needs to control spending. Europe adopted a similar plan several years ago, and it forced jobs to leave Europe, caused electricity prices to skyrocket, and they have little to show for the costs. It’s all pain and no gain. Check out the non-partisan Tax Foundation’s energy tax calculator (www.taxfoundation.org/capandtrade) to figure out how much it may cost you.

Again, I am pleased that we are in agreement. Thank you again, David, for contacting me. I appreciate having the benefit of your views. It is an honor to serve you in the Congress. For more information on my work in Congress or to sign up to receive my E-newsletter, please visit my website, http://www.posey.house.gov/. If I may be of service to you in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Beyond my natural inclination to prefer the second letter because it matches my views, it is a much better letter. I clearly outlines his objections, explains the legislation, points out the flaws, and doesn’t denigrate the AGW community. It points out that if you want to actually limit carbon, this bill doesn’t do it. It also points to external resources for confirming evidence.

I’m pretty happy with my freshman congressman, at the moment.