Danger of the clean energy bill

EL DORADO, Ark. -- Has the world gone mad -- or is it just the U.S. government, the Obama administration and certain members of Congress, in particular?...

EL DORADO, Ark. -- Has the world gone mad -- or is it just the U.S. government, the Obama administration and certain members of Congress, in particular?

At a time when the nation's economy is on the decline, unemployment is soaring and the government is attempting to bailout failing automotive and banking interests with our tax dollars, here comes the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

The "cap-and-trade" act may sound good on paper to environmentalists, but if approved in its present form -- and it has passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is awaiting a vote in the Senate -- the new law could criplle many states' economies.

Here's the bill in a nutshell:

Under the cap-and-trade plan, total carbon dioxide emissions from large sources, such as power plants and factories, must be reduced by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and by 83 percent by mid-century.


Companies would be given allowances for how many tons of carbon they are allowed to emit. If they don't emit as much as allowed, they could trade a credit to another company that wants to go over its limit.

To ease the transition, the federal government would allocate 80 percent of the total allowances in the first years of the program, meaning companies could emit that portion of their allocations for free.

Electric utilities would receive 32 percent of the allowances. Natural-gas utilities would receive 9 percent, and industries vulnerable to global competition -- including iron, steel and paper makers -- would get 15 percent.

Sounds sort of fine and good in a generic way, right?

Now apply this logic.

Steve Cousins, vice president of refining at Lion Oil Refinery in El Dorado, Ark., testified before Congress recently and said his company emits 10 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year. He calculated that under a 2 percent allowance, the company would have to spend $180 million buying credits during the first five years of the program and that the price would increase significantly after that.

He said that in the past 23 years, the company's average annual net profit was $13 million.

Do that math. Obviously, they wouldn't be able to stay in business.


Lion Oil employs more than 600 full-time workers, hundreds of contract employees and has a payroll of more than $40 million.

That's just one example. Meanwhile, this bill does nothing to require China and India to reduce their emissions. How could it? We don't make laws in other countries. What impact would this really have on global greenhouse emissions?

If this bill becomes law, it won't be difficult to figure out where more of our jobs will be moving. More U.S. products produced elsewhere, more jobs lost, another blow to the U.S. economy.

Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., doesn't support the bill because of its potential to devastate his district's economy.

And Ross has noted findings from a Boston economic consulting firm, which found that Arkansas is among a group of states that stands to suffer a 1.5 percent decline in jobs by 2030 if the legislation becomes law.

The bill eventually passed the House by a vote of 219 to 212 and needed 218 votes to pass. Forty-four Democrats, including Ross, voted against the act.

So now the bill awaits consideration in the Senate.

"This legislation, supported by President Obama, will make historic investments in lower-carbon energy sources, create millions of new green jobs and place the first-ever federal limit on climate change causing greenhouse gas emissions," Ross says.


There's no mention of what else it does, like wipe out jobs that have proven to be less competitive in attracting new industry. We must protect what we have.

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