How will climate change bills impact jobs, families?
These past few years, we've heard stories and watched television shows and movies dedicated to the theory of climate change. As representatives in the Washington State Legislature, we're proud to serve a district that includes some of the most pristine areas in our country.
So, any legislative action that could enhance such beauty is given strong consideration. However, this legislative session we are concerned about several bills that could have a direct impact on our way of life, jobs and pocketbooks. One measure proposed by the governor, House Bill 1819, also called the “cap and trade” bill, is of particular concern to us.
This bill is the result of our state's participation in the Western Climate Initiative, which tentatively includes six states and four Canadian provinces. As part of this initiative, state agencies have noted that some industries would have to be destroyed with the hope that other “green-job” industries would be created. In our view, it's just too risky in this economy to lose a single job, particularly the blue-collar jobs that support most families in the 39th District.
We oppose this “cap and trade” legislation because it has the potential to further erode our job base and the family budget. The idea of this system is to “cap” the amount of carbon emitted in the state from any business producing over a certain amount.
Businesses would be required to purchase allowances at auction from a Western Climate Initiative entity to allow them to emit levels of carbon over this amount.
If businesses did not have enough allowances to cover their emissions, they would have to pay hefty fines. If businesses did not use all of their allowances, they could sell them on an open market.
If all this seems confusing, that's because it is. First, we would be one of only a few states to implement cap and trade. So when we encounter problems, we would basically be on our own. This would put our state at a serious competitive disadvantage with other states. It also means businesses that could not withstand these heavy-handed regulations would likely fold or have to move to a non-cap-and-trade state, such as Idaho.
The fact is, Washington is one of the cleanest states in the nation and the world. Our state already has some of the most stringent and effective environmental protection laws. Even if we completely eliminated all Washington's carbon emissions, it would only amount to three-tenths of one percent of global emissions. Costly restrictions would not apply to items imported to our state from countries that are major polluters around the globe, which seems to be the biggest problem needing a fix right now.
In addition, this bill would create financial hardships on families already stretched thin. The federal Congressional Budget Office estimates the effects of a cap and trade system would cost low-income families at least $750 a year. We cannot support any bill that would take money out of your pocket, raise taxes, increase fees or kill jobs in this fragile economy.
The risks in this legislation are just too great right now. As legislators who will be asked to support House Bill 1819, we need more information from state agencies on the number of businesses that would be impacted under the cap and tax system the bill would create. We also need to know what so-called “green jobs” the bill would purport to create would be and where. Most important, we need all the facts and figures on what costs consumers would face because of the taxes the bill authorizes.
Our concern is this kind of legislation is not sincere about making Washington cleaner and greener. Instead, it's about money and power – making state government larger and more intrusive while reducing the green in your wallet.
Families can't afford big-government tax and spend policies, particularly in the current economic situation the state faces. It's time state government needs to get its priorities straight and focus on retaining the jobs we have, helping businesses grow and create jobs, and ensuring a sustainable future for our families.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Rep. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe, and Rep. Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, represent the 39th Legislative District. Pearson can be contacted at (360) 786-7816 and Kristiansen may be reached at (360) 786-7967.