Republican whip Eric Cantor said Wednesday that the Democrats may fall short of the 218 votes needed to pass the global warming tax bill they call “cap and trade” legislation. The Democrats reportedly had 190 as of late Wednesday morning.
The cost of this legislation has been estimated anywhere from $1,600 to $3,000 for the average American family. (The Congressional Budget Office published a new study that reduced their previous figure to one-tenth of what it initially said.) Americans would see the cost in higher electricity bills, and the coal industry would be paired down under cap and trade.
Since Democrats will most likely impose tariffs on products imported from countries where environmental standards are lower and production therefore cheaper, the price of goods will also rise.
“This only affects you if you have a job or buy anything,” Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said at the Wednesday press conference, which included Cantor and six other House Republicans.
Republicans from coal-reliant states continued to speak out against the environment legislation that the House may vote on Friday.
“If liberals wanted to use this resource, they’d be saying, ‘If the country could put somebody on the moon in a decade, we could figure out how to sequester CO2,” Blunt said.
Constituents in a combined eight of Henry Waxman’s and Nancy Pelosi’s districts would be least affected by the cap and trade legislation, while people from Pittsburgh to Wyoming — as described by Blunt — would see significant unemployment because of the bill.
— 20,000 coal jobs are at risk in Rep. Cynthia Lummis’ home state, Wyoming, which is the largest coal- producing state in the U.S. An electric utility provider said customers in Wyoming will receive a 35-85% increase in their utility bills within ten years.
— The Big Ridge Willow Lake Mine in Rep. John Shimkus’s district has 462 employees in a small, rural county with an economic impact of $123 million and $30 million paid in gross wages in 2008. If the mine closes and employees leave, the tax base for the schools, the roads, and the county dries up. “Any member who represents coal miners who votes for this bill is going after the same people they’re supposed to represent,” Shimkus said.
— In Blunt’s home state of Missouri, 85% of the electricity comes from coal. Under cap and trade, and accounting for inflation, Blunt said Missourians should expect their current electricity bills to double in ten years. Blunt pointed out that their jobs may go elsewhere since their employers’ electricity bills will also double.
— 87% of Ohio’s energy comes from coal. Rep. Robert Latta, who represents the 5th district, says his will be the third hardest hit by cap and tax. He has the largest manufacturing district in Ohio and the thirteenth largest in Congress. “I have got to have power – I have got to have power that’s cheap, because we cannot compete against the Chinese and the Indians today,” Latta said.
— Rep. Shelley Moore Capito’s state is 2nd largest production of coal in the country; there are tens of thousands of miners in her district and billions of dollars from coal industry in this state.
“Clearly, it’s a job killer,” Cantor said.
These representatives, along with Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas), spoke at the press conference Wednesday.
Republicans favor a comprehensive energy approach, which would include wind, solar, clean coal, drilling and nuclear, without a national energy tax. Cantor said he sees no point in repeating the ineffective policies of Rio in 1992 and Kyoto in 2000, which failed to meet the target carbon emission reductions.
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