U.S. Senators Should Reject Cap and Trade Plan

By Jeff Duncan

One of the main factors that informed my recent decision to run for South Carolina’s 3rd Congressional Seat was the concern my constituents expressed over runaway spending in Washington. I’m sure the road to crippling national debt has been paved with good intentions—but that won’t diminish the wide-reaching consequences. What price will our children pay for massive stimulus packages and unending entitlements?

One of lawmakers’ biggest indulgences so far has been the controversial cap and trade legislation intended to reduce carbon emissions. Democrats managed to force it through the House of Representatives by offering reluctant colleagues billions of dollars of free emissions credits for their favorite industries and special interests. Even after having doled out such huge amounts of pork behind closed doors and employing every other lobbying tactic, 44 Democrats still had the courage to vote against the Waxman-Markey climate change bill. Unfortunately, the cap and trade bill managed to gain one more vote than necessary for passage, clearing a major hurdle on the path to becoming law.

The House’s narrow margin passage of the cap and trade bill will likely set the stage for a tough debate in the U.S. Senate. I would respectfully encourage Senators Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint to unequivocally oppose this very costly legislation.

What financial burden will the cap and trade bill impose on Americans? Cost estimates vary because the legislation calls for establishing an emissions trading market that would lack transparency, making it vulnerable to manipulation by traders, and subject to wildly unstable pricing. 

However, a study conducted by the global economic consulting firm, CRA International, and commissioned by the National Black Chamber of Commerce sheds some light on how Americans would be impacted by cap and trade legislation.

The study examined President Obama’s complimentary cap and trade plan and concluded that it would result in higher energy costs, increased costs for goods and services throughout the economy, and a drop in household buying power.

The job losses from cap and trade could be devastating. The study projects an initial loss of 800,000 jobs by 2015, followed by a net loss of 1.9 million jobs by 2020 and as many as 3.2 million total jobs lost by 2030 compared with baseline levels. These jobs will be lost in important sectors like manufacturing, agriculture and energy. Tough carbon caps will force the premature abandonment of conventional energy technologies and disrupt productivity-enhancing investments in our nation’s factories.

Even if you are not directly affected by the unemployment resulting from cap and trade, you will feel its impact at home when your energy prices rise. In fact, the study also claims that average annual household purchasing power will decline by $1,020 in 2015 and $2,127 in 2030.

I know that South Carolinians respect the environment and would like to take reasonable measures to reduce pollutants—but the cap and trade bill is reckless, irresponsible, and its environmental benefits are dubious. In fact, advocacy groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth are actually opposed to the legislation.

Lastly, if not for any other reason, this is simply the wrong time to impose such huge cost burdens on Americans. The cap and trade system would be implemented around 2010 or 2011, right when we will hopefully be emerging from this difficult recession. Americans can’t afford to let this cap and trade legislation set us back, instead of putting us back to work.