NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 17, 2009

If Americans don't start paying attention to what Congress is up to, our nation's energy policy may seriously change for the worse.  A new bill, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, sponsored by Democrats Henry Waxman (Calif.) and Edward Markey (Mass.) soon goes before the House.  But if passed, the impact on Americans would be substantial and detrimental, says Pete du Pont, Policy Chairman of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Why?  Because the bill contains some serious mistakes like slighting nuclear power:

  • Nuclear plants generate no carbon dioxide or other pollution, and the 104 already in operation provide America with 73 percent of its CO2-free electricity generation.
  • It's estimated that each new nuclear plant would employ some 2,000 workers to build and 500 people to operate.
  • America could use some 40 more nuclear plants, but in the Waxman bill, additional nuclear power plants are likely nonexistent.

Another mistake is the reinstatement of protectionism -- since America's energy restrictions wouldn't apply to manufacturers of goods America imports, unregulated foreign companies could sell their goods in America at lower costs:

  • The Waxman bill would seek to remedy this by making companies eligible for rebates determined and allocated by Washington.
  • If the president found that the rebates "do not substantially correct competitive imbalances" he could establish a "border adjustment program" requiring foreign companies to pay for special allowances to "cover" the "carbon contained in U.S.-bound products."
  • In other words, America would add an international carbon tariff to imported goods.

But rather than creating a new subsidy, wouldn't we be better off distributing those revenues to the American people, asks du Pont?  The Obama administration thinks the opposite -- a majority of the money raised by cap-and-trade should be sent only to taxpayers making under a certain amount as a part of his Making Work Pay credit.

Source: Pete du Pont, "Sapping America's Energy," Wall Street Journal, April 16, 2009.

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