Federal, state cap-and-trade legislation: Are they really worth the cost to families?

Last week in this column, I discussed major concerns about federal “cap-and-trade” legislation that narrowly passed the U.S. House of Representatives last month and is scheduled for a vote in the U.S. Senate in September. Those concerns include energy prices increasing by more than $1,600 annually for a family of four, a loss of 2.5 million American jobs, and a lengthy list of mandates that would have government breathing down the necks of businesses and homeowners.

The latest I learned about H.R. 2454 is that every light fixture and household appliance would be regulated. Even if your old washer and dryer are still running, you could be required to buy newer, expensive “green” models. All this from legislation experts say “would have a trivially small effect on global warming while imposing substantial costs on all American households.”

One of the most ardent supporters of the cap-and-tax bill is Gov. Christine Gregoire. In a three-page letter to the Washington congressional delegation, she urges passage of H.R. 2454, saying “we cannot afford to wait any longer.” It was the same message the governor gave to the state Legislature during the 2009 session when she pushed hard for passage of Senate Bill 5735. That measure would have entered Washington state into a costly regional cap-and-trade program with the Western Climate Initiative, which tentatively includes six states and four Canadian provinces.

How costly? According to the Washington Policy Center and Beacon Hill Institute, under the regional program, Washington state could lose “18,292 net jobs, $5.71 billion in personal income and $302.54 in per capita disposable income.”  In addition, other proposed state climate change legislation would tax the size of your vehicle engine regardless of fuel efficiency, and eventually, charge you for every mile you drive.

The governor is treating climate change as an emergency. But here’s the rub: Washington is one of the cleanest states in the nation. Our state produces only three-tenths of 1 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. That’s like a grain of sand on an entire beach. With such little output, no amount of reductions we attempt in Washington will have any effect on global greenhouse gas emissions. Washington is already green!

When the Legislature failed to pass SB 5735, the governor issued an executive order in an attempt to implement many of its provisions. Enforcement of that order is questionable.

There are better ways of addressing climate change than putting people out of jobs and taking more of their money when they can least afford it. These include using incentives for market-based solutions to encourage new practices that reduce carbon emissions rather than enacting punitive measures; admitting hydro power as renewable green energy since it emits no carbon; expanding carbonless energy sources such as wind, solar and nuclear; and putting more effort into research and development of clean energy and transportation technology.

Finally, we need to carefully examine benefits versus consequences of such far-reaching state and federal cap-and-trade legislation, especially when experts agree it will have little effect on the environment, but will severely affect paychecks, jobs and families while giving more power, money and control of your life to the government.

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