A Publication of WTVP

After six months in Washington, I now have a newfound appreciation for the amount of hot air discharged in the atmosphere! Our environment, economy and national security require a sustained national effort to transition away from our reliance on carbon-based sources of energy. However, the solution to this problem is not a cap-and-trade system.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what the House recently passed with H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. This bill, which passed the House after Speaker Pelosi twisted arms and cut numerous backroom deals, causing four members to switch their votes to allow passage, creates a national energy tax that will lead to higher energy prices and further job losses.

It defies logic that at a time of economic recession, we would create hardships on manufacturers, small businesses, American families and anyone else who turns on a light switch. Due to this fact, many have predicted the legislation will result in a net job loss. Supporters of this legislation only want to talk about the so-called "green" jobs that will be created. They are conveniently ignoring the studies that indicate that for every one of these new jobs, two jobs are eliminated.

People in the 18th Congressional District of Illinois are hurting. In June, it was announced that Peoria’s unemployment rate crossed into double digits for the first time in more than two decades. Yet still the House voted to add 3,100 18th district residents to the unemployment lines.

The cap and tax bill asks Americans to pay more when they have less. For instance, this act will also cause electric rates to increase by $84 to $157 per year. This is far too great a price for someone whose job has just been moved to China, India or some other environmentally lax country.

Instead of this job-killing legislation, I supported an alternative bill that would increase our energy supply through an "all-of-the-above" energy policy that develops more of our domestic resources, invests in renewable and alternative energy sources, offers incentives for better efficiency and conservation, and makes a renewed commitment to clean and emissions-free nuclear energy.

If Congress were truly interested in passing legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we should work across party lines and create a tax incentive program for businesses that reduce these emissions. I think we’ve proven time and again that businesses that are incentivized to undertake certain behaviors do so, but businesses that are punished tend to shed jobs or shut their doors.

Only by enacting impossible-to-ignore incentives for anyone who uses, produces, invests in or does research on new energy sources, will we address the climate crisis. Due to the aggressive wind tax credits previously enacted by Congress, the U.S. Department of Energy reported that wind power grew 46 percent in 2007, with $9 billion invested in wind power during that year alone, making the U.S. the fastest-growing wind power market in the world.

The bottom line is we need Congress to work together to come up with a common-sense plan that reduces these emissions while growing, rather than shrinking, our economy. iBi