John Loughlin: Kennedy Vote For Cap & Tax Trade Bad for Economy AND Bad for the Environment

On June 26, 2009, Congressman Patrick Kennedy returned to the House of Representatives to cast a partisan vote in favor of the Waxman-Markey Climate Change bill known as Cap & Trade. A few days later, a blast e-mail arrived from the Congressman’s office to tell Rhode Island how proud of this vote he was. Despite the claims of his e-mail, I would respectfully submit that this poorly crafted and poorly considered bill will harm both Rhode Island’s economy and ultimately harm the environment we pass on to our children.
The bill mandates a “cap” on carbon emissions, while providing a percentage of carbon-emission “allowances” to the business sector. If the number of allowances do not cover the carbon emitted by a Rhode Island manufacturer, for example, they would either have to spend more money to retrofit their operations or purchase additional allowances from the federal government. These costs could only be met by laying off more workers or passing the cost on to you and me in the form of higher prices – or both.
More likely than not, these manufactures will simply move more manufacturing jobs off-shore to countries like India and China where the cost of doing business is significantly less.
The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington estimates that will translate into a loss of more than 5,800 jobs here in Rhode Island by 2012. Let’s say they’re off by 50%, can we afford to outsource more than 2,900 Rhode Island jobs in the next three years?
Further, they estimate that our economy here in Rhode Island will loose more than 530 million dollars in Gross State Product. Translation? Less money in state and local coffers to pay for
education, infrastructure and assistance to the poor and elderly – coupled with rising property taxes and rising electric bills. As President Obama said, electricity rates will “necessarily skyrocket” and those costs will be passed on “to consumers.” (San Francisco Chronicle, January, 2008)
As manufacturing industries move overseas, (with our jobs), they will be setting up shop in countries that have little or no environmental protections, meaning our planet becomes even more polluted. That’s why this bill is bad for our environment as well.
Here’s a simple but common sense alternative. Why not sharply increase domestic production of oil, natural gas and clean coal? We would use the money generated by expanded royalties from US government leases to invest directly in tax cuts for green industries, based on actual jobs created. Here are some of the benefits. We decrease our dependence on foreign sources of energy and do so immediately. We generate revenue from the carbon rich petroleum and natural gas industry and invest it directly into renewable energy produced right here in America. We grow the green segment of our economy and grow the associated jobs, without exporting our few remaining manufacturing jobs. As more and more sources of green renewable energy come on-line, we improve our environment.
There’s an old saying that a little common sense goes a long way. I believe we need to return common sense to the vocabulary of Washington, DC. It is my sincere hope that cooler heads in the US Senate will not pass this harmful House bill known as Cap & Trade and cheerfully supported by Congressman Kennedy.

John Loughlin is a State Representative from District 71, Tiverton, Portsmouth & Little Compton. He is rumored to be considering a run against Congressman Patrick Kennedy.

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