Published May 30, 2009
Republicans raised the temperature on the climate change debate Saturday, attacking a proposal crafted by congressional Democrats and endorsed by President Obama as doing little to reduce global warming while saddling Americans with high energy costs.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, in the GOP's weekly radio and Internet address, called the House climate bill "a classic example of unwise government." The address culminated a week of coordinated Republican attacks on the Democratic proposal which would require the first nationwide reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.
Obama has made tackling climate change one of his major legislative priorities as president, saying the reduction of gas house emission is crucial to national security.
GOP House members used the weeklong Memorial Day congressional recess to drum up voter opposition to the Democratic bill. The governor's criticism echoed Republican lawmakers' arguments at "energy summits" in Pennsylvania, Indiana and California and at other forums during the week.
The proposal to cap greenhouse emissions "will cost us dearly in jobs and income and it stands no chance of achieving its objective of a cooler earth" because other nation's such as China and India will not have to follow, argues Daniels, according to a transcript of the Saturday address.
"The cost for all American taxpayers will be certain, huge, and immediate. Any benefits are extremely uncertain, minuscule, and decades distant," maintains Daniels.
The climate bill would require a 17 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020 and 83 percent reduction by mid-century. It advanced from the House Energy and Commerce Committee shortly before lawmakers left Washington for their holiday break, getting only one GOP vote.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she wants to take up the measure in the full House this summer.
"The national energy tax imposed by Speaker Pelosi's climate change bill would double electric bills here in Indiana, working a severe hardship on low income families, but that's only where the damage starts," says Daniels. "In a state where we like to make things, like steel and autos and RVs, it would cost us countless jobs. ... Our farmers and livestock producers would see their costs skyrocket. and our coal miners would be looking for new work."
Daniels made no mention of compromises crafted by the bill's chief Democratic sponsors -- Reps. Henry Waxman of California and Edward Markey of Massachusetts -- aimed at easing the economic costs on energy-intensive industries such as steel and automobiles, and on regions heavily dependent on coal for electricity generation.
Under a so-called cap-and-trade provision, polluters would be able to buy and sell emission allowances to ease the cost of the reduction. Initially free emission allowances would be provided to electric utilities and other energy-intensive industries facing unfair competition from abroad.
Waxman and Markey have argued much of the higher fuel costs would be offset by increased energy efficiency and rebates -- using money from the sale of emission allowances -- to people facing higher energy costs.
But Daniels says there's a better approach than the cap-and-trade government mandate and "protect the environment, lower energy costs and create jobs at the same time all without raising taxes." He cited Indiana's production of ethanol and biodiesel, efforts to develop less polluting coal plants, expansion of wind power and conservation programs.
Congressional Republicans said that instead of a mandatory cap on pollution, they want to expand domestic oil and gas development, using some of the proceeds for renewable energy development, expansion of nuclear energy and more support for research into ways to capture carbon from coal burning.
The Democratic bill also would devote billions of dollars to carbon capture research and would require utilities to generate at least 12 percent of their power from renewable energy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.