'Cap and trade' a bad approach

September 8, 2009
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Editor,

As a hunter and conservationist, I admire people who care about our natural environment and seek ways to preserve the health of our planet.

But I’m not convinced that the Waxman-Markey “cap and trade” legislation, which recently passed the U.S. House, would do anything to help the environment, since other major industrial nations have declined to adopt similar measures.

I am convinced that the costs created by the legislation would result in unnecessary burdens for American businesses and families, at a time when they can least afford it.

The legislation, accurately nicknamed the “national energy tax” by Republican lawmakers, would put an overall cap on the amount of carbon released into the air, and ration the amount that individual companies could emit.

The idea is to force companies that burn or sell fossil fuel-based products to cut down on the practice over a period of years. It would cost them more money over time, and the extra costs would be passed on to customers.

That means higher electric, natural gas and gasoline prices. Those extra costs could be staggering for the economically challenged, as well as rural families that spend a higher percentage of their incomes on energy.

Experts believe some companies will be forced to move to overseas, costing millions of jobs.

Why would we put this added burden on the American economy right now, particularly when developing nations like China and India are not willing to do the same? Even scientists who are convinced that carbon emissions create global warming agree that cap and trade will only work with broad international cooperation.

The final vote on Waxman-Markey was telling — 219 to 212 — with 44 Democrats voting no. U.S. Rep. John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, got it right when he said, “Nobody in the country realizes that cap and trade is a tax. And it’s a great big one.”

Carbon emissions control would be better dealt with when the economy improves, and when our industrialized neighbors signal their readiness to participate, as well.

In the meantime, I’m willing to bet that consumer demand will drive the private sector to go further and faster with alternative energy development than any government mandate.

Former state Rep. Bill Huizenga

Zeeland

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