Alternative Introduced to Cap and Tax Fiasco

Republicans are unveiling a new bill today intended to redirect the energy debate on Capitol Hill. The bill, know as The American Energy Innovation Act, is an alternative to the Democrats’ costly cap and trade legislation now stalled in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  

The Republican bill has been constructed by the Republican Study Committee — about 105 House conservatives — and the Congressional Western Caucus to result in more energy independence.

“If there is something that moves us forward, then that is still a positive thing,” Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) told HUMAN EVENTS in an exclusive interview yesterday.  “We really in this debate are talking about competing visions of America, and two different roads.”

One of the biggest differences between the two bills is the cost to the taxpayer. While the Republican alternative comes with no tax increases, the Democrats’ cap and trade legislation has been estimated to cost each household $3,000. One of the co-authors of the study used to calculate that number has since backed off the claim, but Bishop, who is sponsoring the Republican alternative, said the figure is still pretty accurate.

Bishop said the Republicans want to present a different vision of American energy with their legislation.

“Whether there is global warming or not, we still need to have energy independence and abundant energy so that people can live their lives and create jobs — as well as creating new ways of doing things,” Bishop said.

Bishop said The American Energy Innovation Act will move energy production forward through a mix of new and familiar ideas. The bill focuses on three areas: innovation, conservation, and production.  

“Some of this stuff you’ve seen before, but we have never done it — it’s still new,” Bishop said. “We need to keep pushing at it, even though the ideas have been there before.”

One of the bill’s new provisions would create cash prizes, awarded competitively, for constants to “advance the research, development, demonstration, and commercial application of alternative fuel vehicles.”  There’s a $10 billion grand prize for a low emissions vehicle that meets certain criteria and five additional $100 million prizes.

This idea originated with Newt Gingrigh’s American Solutions group last year.
Other different ideas include work with algae-based biofuels and even biomass, “which no one’s talking about,” according to Bishop. The bill would offer a tax parity for algae-based biofuels and credit extensions for electricity produced from wind and biomass (which the Union of Concerned Scientists defines as plant material or animal waste).

The bill summary also includes a section on conservation, which Bishop say is key.  

 “For every gallon we conserve, it’s a gallon we don’t have to import from a country that hates us,” Bishop said.

The bill also builds on the energy solutions Republicans have been pushing since last summer – opening the Outer Continental Shelf for energy exploration and eliminating much of the judicial red tape so that companies can actually go forward with energy leases.

“There is no magic bullet out there.  You have to have an approach that lets Americans create and use everything that Americans can create in innovation, conservation, and production,” Bishop said.

The bill calls for an overall increase of energy production — whether oil shale, fossil fuel, or solar — which Bishop says will result in job creation and a better lifestyle for Americans.  According to the bill summary, opening the 2,000 acres of land in Alaska’s Arctic Coastal plain will provide one million jobs across the country, while opening the Outer Continental Shelf alone would create 36 million jobs during the next 30 years.  That averages out to over 1 million jobs a year.  By comparison, Obama’s promise to create new green jobs averages out to only .5 million jobs every year, about half of the Republicans’ plan.  

The bill also

  • improves national grid efficiency by, among other things, increasing the tax credit on mini turbines
  • expands natural gas as clean transportation and commercial fuel
  • includes a Debt Reduction Trust Fund that puts revenue generated from this legislation to federal debt relief