Marsha Blackburn

Cap and Trade: Statement Before the House Energy and Commerce Committee - April 21, 2009

Marsha Blackburn
April 21, 2009— U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC
Congressional floor speech
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Mr. Chairman, last week the EPA positioned itself to regulate carbon dioxide emissions under the Clean Air Act, with or without Congressional consent. We are then, faced with a choice, we can acquiesce to bad regulation that will have certain and disastrous impacts on our economy or we can legislate an even more harmful system. It is as though, when faced with a gun to our heads, Congress is opting to shoot ourselves in the chest.

For the record, I would remind the Committee of my bill, H.R. 391, which would prohibit the EPA from taking action under the Clean Air Act and allow Congress the time we need to craft intelligent legislation. My bill would also save small farms, who under the EPA's proposed regulations would face steep levies on livestock.

Laying aside my skepticism of the underlying science that led us to this bill, I would like to address some of my concerns over the legislation itself. There are at least two provisions that we know will be detrimental to the economy at the worst possible moment.

First, are the renewable electricity standards imposed by this bill. Currently, 3% of our electricity is generated by renewable energy. The Chairman's bill calls for 25% by 2025. To meet that standard under current electricity usage levels would require 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy to come online each year until 2025.

I would remind my colleagues that only 10,000 megawatts worth of renewable electricity came online last year. The Energy Information Administration estimates that only 8,000 additional megawatts will come online over the next four years.

This makes the renewable energy requirements in this bill entirely unrealistic, and that is under current usage rates. This bill also aims to increase electricity usage without accommodating that increased usage in the standard for renewable generation. The proposed standards also happen to be exceedingly expensive. We are saddling our states and our energy consumers with unrealistic demands at prohibitively high prices.

Secondly, while there are large holes in the Chairman's bill when it comes to the mechanics of a Cap and Trade proposal, few in this room doubt that we are actually talking about a Cap and Tax system. Electricity rates are going to rise and Washington is going to pocket the profits. I take no comfort from any assurance I hear from my colleagues across the aisle or down the street that energy consumers will be compensated in any way.

We must be plain, and we must be honest when we discuss this system. It will pull thousands more out of the family budget every year. There is simply no way around it and we are wrong to try and sugar-coat it.

Mr. Chairman, I wonder if the committee will give the as yet unaddressed compounding effects of this bill due consideration. We know that the renewable energy standard will increase electricity costs. We also know that the Cap and Trade system will drive up electricity costs. The President himself has told us that prices will "necessarily skyrocket" for consumers.

What we don't know- what we must know before this bill becomes law- is what the compounding effect of an expensive renewable energy standard and an expensive Cap and Trade system will be to the family budget.

As my colleagues and I work on this bill, that is what I am going to be paying the most attention to.

The American Clean Energy Security Act of 2009: Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, 111th Congr. (2009). (statement of Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee).