Federal climate change bill will strangle family budgets, kill jobs

As your state representative, I seek your input on issues in the Washington State Legislature in Olympia. Occasionally, issues are considered in Congress in Washington, D.C. that may impact the citizens I represent. Although I cannot vote on congressional issues, I do feel a responsibility to educate citizens and urge your involvement.

On June 26, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly adopted H.R. 2454, also known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act. The measure is a massive 1,428 page energy and climate change bill that aims to reduce carbon emissions 17 percent by 2020 through a system known as “cap-and-trade.”

Under cap-and-trade, the government would require companies emitting greenhouse gases to obtain a permit for each ton they emit annually. Eventually, the government would reduce the number of permits available for emitting carbon dioxide (the same thing we breathe when we exhale) and other greenhouse gases. Prices for those permits would then become very expensive.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the program would provide the government nearly $850 billion within 10 years. Congressional leaders call it the largest tax increase in American history.

How will cap-and-trade affect your family?

Higher energy prices: Most companies involved are energy generators. As prices of permits skyrocket, industries and energy producers will pass those $850 billion in costs to everyone who uses gasoline, electricity and natural gas. CBO estimates this could increase energy prices for an average family-of-four household by more than $1,600 annually. By 2035, electricity costs would increase 90 percent, gasoline 58 percent, and natural gas 55 percent, for a total cumulative family cost of $22,800.

Fewer jobs: As costs skyrocket, industries will outsource millions of manufacturing jobs to countries such as China and India. The American Legislative Exchange Council estimates a loss of 2.5 million American jobs, even after the creation of new green jobs.

More government intrusion: The bill would create new federal mandates on everything from outdoor light bulbs and table lamps to water dispensers and household appliances, making all more expensive to purchase and operate. It also requires an 80 percent reduction of energy use in residential buildings by 2014. While reducing our energy use is well-intended, meeting this requirement could cost you thousands of dollars to save only hundreds of dollars. It would also significantly drive up new home costs.

Will this legislation significantly reverse global temperatures?

No. The Cato Institute estimates temperature reduction would be less than 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100 — virtually unnoticeable. China, which will not accept absolute CO2 limits, emits four times as much CO2 as the United States. Experts say any U.S. CO2 reduction would be wiped out as China and other developing nations grow. Harvard Professor Martin Feldstein noted, “The proposed legislation would have a trivially small effect on global warming while imposing substantial costs on all American households.”

There are better, less costly ways to help our environment without strangling families or killing jobs. I will address this issue more extensively in a future article.

For now, however, I urge you to contact Sen. Patty Murray and Sen. Maria Cantwell. They will soon be voting on this bill, which could have significant impacts on you and your family.

Sen. Patty Murray – – Washington, D.C. – Toll Free: (866) 481-9186

Sen. Maria Cantwell – State offices – Toll-free: (888) 648-7328

EDITOR’S NOTE: State Rep. Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, represents the 39th Legislative District, and also serves as chairman of the Washington House Republican Caucus. He can be contacted at (360) 786-7967 or from his Web site at: houserepublicans.wa.gov/Kristiansen.

State Representative Dan Kristiansen, 39th Legislative District
426A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7967 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000