Indiana Wants No Part of Energy Tax

Would you take approximately three hours out of your day to hear from — and share your input with — elected officials and experts on the energy crisis?

How about if your electricity bill was about to double?

That’s what Hoosiers are facing with the new Waxman-Markey bill known as cap-and-trade (or, more accurately, cap-and-tax). And maybe that’s why over 200 people attended an energy summit in Indianapolis Wednesday as part of a National Energy Tour hosted by Rep. Mike Pence’s American Energy Solutions group.

Apart from Pence’s good work in the U.S. House, it’s rare that Indiana makes national news, except for basketball and natural disasters. When I moved from Indiana to D.C. in August 2008, the big issue nationwide was the energy crisis. Everyone was talking about the coastal states, the Western states, and Alaska — no one was talking about Indiana.

Now, Pence, Gov. Mitch Daniels, and the people they represent have changed that because Waxman-Markey (named for its principal authors, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif. and Ed Markey, D-Mass.) targets states like theirs.

Eight of Indiana’s nine congressional districts are in the top 20 districts hit hardest by cap-and-tax legislation, according to a study referenced by Pence in his opening remarks at the summit. The study also says Indiana will be the hardest hit state nationwide, with the Midwest and the Southeast suffering most overall.

Daniels wrote in his May 15 Wall Street Journal op-ed about cap-and-tax, “This bill would impose enormous taxes and restrictions on free commerce by wealthy but faltering powers — California, Massachusetts and New York — seeking to exploit politically weaker colonies in order to prop up their own decaying economies.” He also said the legislation would double Indiana residents’ electricity bills.

Christopher Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute thinks the energy summits were a good way to circumvent mainstream media bias about energy issues in general. As reported by Michelle Oddis on May 14, only 24% of Americans actually know what cap-and-trade is, according to a Rasmussen Poll. Clearly, the mainstream media isn’t doing its job on the now 946-page bill (and it could get longer).

“As Reagan did, go over the media, go straight to the people,” Horner said.

The Indianapolis summit, at which both Pence and Daniels were present, had two parts: explaining the problems of Waxman-Markey and then also briefly discussing alternatives.

Horner, who testified at the Indianapolis summit and attended the event in Pittsburgh, said the main point he wanted people to grasp was what cap and trade is — a rationing/taxation scheme for energy that’s all pain, no gain. His presentation also showcased the massive failure of these programs in Europe.

“The feedback I received was very positive from people saying, ‘Thank goodness… I pick up bits and pieces, but you walked me through what this is, what it’s about, and how it’s worked,” Horner said.

Horner said he told several people afterwards they needed to “spin this thing out.”

“You need to go to Ohio, you need to go to Michigan,” Horner said he told them. “You know, you had Ohio and Michigan reps in Indiana [Wednesday]. But you really need to go to those districts.”

According to Horner, this will help keep congressmen in neighboring districts honest and also puts pressure on a state’s U.S. Senate delegation (which, in Indiana, is a pair of unreliables) to behave when it comes to energy issues.

In an op-ed chiding Daniels and Pence for their stance, the Indianapolis Star argues most of the Midwest governors have already signed a cap-and-trade agreement. Shame on the Star for proposing Indiana — and the Midwest — let itself be strong-armed to adopt practices that bankrupted California. California and Massachusetts are exercising a stunt perfected by middle school drama queens — take someone down so that you feel better about yourself. If Wisconsin or Illinois jumps off a bridge, Indiana should not want to follow.

This energy issue may even put the brakes on the federal government, which has been winning most face-offs with local governments, especially on the Obama faux-stimulus package. Conservative governors such as Mark Sanford, Bobby Jindal, Sarah Palin, and now Mitch Daniels are becoming an important check on the Democratic grip in Washington, D.C. The more backbone the Midwest governors show in this energy debate, the more likely the nation will escape the Waxman-Markey tax.