Saturday, June 27, 2009

Rick Larsen's Rationale for Voting for Waxman-Markey

Rick Larsen responded to my plea not to vote for the Waxman-Markey Cap & Trade bill -- with this rationalization (with my reaction in italics):

Dear Mr. Uppiano:

Today I voted in favor of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454). This bill passed the House of Representatives 219-212. I would like to take the opportunity to explain my decision to you.

For me, this issue boils down to three words: Washington state jobs.

Staying or leaving?

The American Clean Energy and Security Act is really a clean energy economic engine that will harvest American innovation to create millions of new jobs in the private sector, including family-wage manufacturing jobs that can't be shipped overseas, jobs building wind turbines and installing appliances to make homes more energy efficient, and jobs turning agricultural and forest products into clean, renewable energy.

That's very speculative. You're sure that wind turbines can't be built overseas? In fact, I think some are. Installing them is a temporary demand. Besides, wind turbines will not fly. They're not reliable or efficient. Can you imagine environmentalists, or anyone within view, allowing wind turbines to be built on every hillcrest in America? I can't.

Turning agricultural and forest products into clean, renewable energy? It takes lots of energy to grow agricultural products for energy, at the cost of affordable food! And can you imagine environmentalists allowing us to use trees for energy? I can't.

Second, this clean energy jobs bill will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, reduce pollution and strengthen our national security.

Please explain.

H.R. 2454 implements a "cap-and-trade" system to manage emissions. This means putting an economy-wide cap on carbon emissions and reducing that cap over time. Regulated entities, which would include electric utilities, transportation fuel producers, and any industrial facility that emits more than 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year, would be required to have government-issued permits, called allowances, to legally pollute. Polluters would be allowed to trade these allowances with one another to ensure the most cost-effective emission reduction improvements are being made in our economy. Companies that have extra allowances can sell them. Companies that don't have enough allowances will be able to buy them on the open market or take steps to reduce their carbon emissions.

Government issued permits to pollute? Just what we need, another bureaucracy to mind our business -- the opposite of liberty.

Allowances to pollute? Just like papal indulgences -- nice religious overtones there. Doesn't the first amendment have something to say about that (non-establishment)?

That accepts the premise that CO2 is a pollutant. The SCOTUS declaring CO2 to be a pollutant impresses me about as much as the 1897 Indiana legislature declaring π to be rational. CO2 is an essential component of all life on earth. And brewing beer.

I have worked to ensure that we get the best possible clean energy jobs bill for Washington state and the 2nd Congressional District. That means a bill that works for local families worried about the high cost of paying their heating bills and filling up the gas tank; a bill that works for workers at Ferndale's Intalco plant; a bill that works for Boeing workers and contractors; a bill that works for local farmers; and a bill that works for the nearly 2,500 workers at Northwest Washington's four refineries.

Please explain.

During the past year, I have reached out to local clean energy companies, utilities, farmers, conservationists, local governments and small businesses, and they have all told me that comprehensive energy reform must take into account the unique attributes of the Pacific Northwest - our use of hydropower, our family farms, our energy-intensive industries and the family-wage jobs they support, and our long-standing commitment to renewable energy.

Our hydropower is just part of the national electric grid. When electricity becomes more expensive, it becomes more expensive for all. Renewable energy will happen when it becomes practical, not by government edict.

Since Congress began crafting comprehensive energy reform, we have made great progress for the 2nd District, Washington state and the Pacific Northwest. I brought local concerns to Washington, D.C. and delivered them to congressional leaders including Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman and Rep. Gene Green of Texas. Here are some of the local issues I have worked on in this bill. Most of them boil down to one word: jobs:

Jobs at Refineries: Local refineries in my district employ nearly 2,500 workers and contractors. Whatcom and Skagit Counties alone depend on over $200 million in wages from refineries each year. I am pleased that the American Clean Energy and Security Act provides two percent of allowances for refiners (an improvement over the zero percent we started with) and removes the unworkable low-carbon fuel standard to help protect these good-paying jobs in our community.

As I said in a letter to you before, fiddling with carbon credits is pointless, because it accepts the premise that CO2 is a pollutant, and that we have some proven need to reduce it. We do not. We have no proof that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is even a problem that needs to be solved, nor that expensive measures to reduce CO2 will have any measurable effect on AGW.

Jobs at Intalco: I support a provision (the Inslee-Doyle provision) to help protect jobs at Alcoa's Ferndale smelter and other energy-industries from being shipped overseas by giving them the emissions allowances they need to continue doing business here in the Unites States.

Again, this is just like buying and selling papal indulgences. You allow more "pollution" because you can justify it. So can every congressman in every district. This is a joke. It would be funny if it weren't so serious.

Bonneville Power Administration: In the Pacific Northwest, hydropower is the original clean, renewable energy. I have worked hard to ensure that my constituents' pocketbooks are protected in this legislation, and that Washington state is rewarded, not punished, for its long-standing use of zero-carbon electricity. I am pleased that some emissions allowances will be awarded to utilities based on how many households are served, a provision that is beneficial for our area. However, I do have concerns about the so-called "anti-windfall provision" that could have unintended consequences for utilities in the Northwest. I will work with my colleagues in the Senate to make sure the final bill includes the protections we need to help keep energy prices low for local families.

As I said earlier, Washington State is just part of the national power grid. You can shuffle indulgences all you want, but the overall effect will be disastrous. Everything that uses energy to produce it will cost more. Much of this comes from states that use coal to generate electricity. Maybe if you would promote the use of modern nuclear energy technology and breeder reactors (for renewable energy) I could support this.

Using Washington resources for clean energy: The Pacific Northwest has an abundance of woody biomass - the trees and woody plants that are the by-products of forest management - that can be used to produce clean, renewable energy. This bill will allow the use of woody biomass for this purpose, giving the Northwest a leg up in this valuable production of energy, creating jobs and providing the Forest Service with the tools it needs for proper wildfire management.

All new technology looks good when there are few users. The problems become evident when there are 300 million users. The fact that we actually have relatively few, and quite manageable problems with billions using fossil fuel (the made-up AGW problem notwithstanding), is a testament to how well it works. I am not opposed to experimenting and innovating with new technology, but we don't need the government to say it's OK. Governments can't bestow rights -- they're already ours. Governments can only deny rights.

Opportunities for local farmers: After much work over the last two weeks, this bill now rewards innovation on our local farms and opens the door for Northwest Washington farmers to make money from their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Another government subsidy for farmers? Great. This won't be a boondoggle. No, of course not.

Aviation: In Washington state, aviation plays a huge role in our local economy. I worked to remove a provision in the American Clean Energy and Security Act that would have burdened the aviation industry with unnecessary regulation that could have hurt their business and the local jobs that depend on it.

Good that you eliminated some unnecessary regulation. Now, can we agree on what's necessary?

Renewable energy efficiency standard: The legislation ensures that Washington state's renewable energy standard (I-937, which was passed by the voters of Washington state) is protected and not overruled by the proposed federal standard.

Hmmm. Maybe one aspect doesn't encroach on states' rights. I'm still skeptical.

Good Wages for Labor: I am also pleased that this bill helps ensure that workers are paid a fair wage for their work by complying with Davis-Bacon rules for prevailing wages.

How about just allowing all wages to float to their true market value, and leave it at that?

The American Clean Energy and Security Act will create jobs, make our local economy stronger and protect Washington state for the next generation. Thank you for taking the time to contact me. Please do not hesitate to contact me again about this or other issues of concern for you.

Rick, I really enjoyed your town meeting in Ferndale a few weeks back. You seem like a nice guy, and you seem to have some actual intelligence about you (unlike our two senators), but I am very concerned that you are not concerned enough with individual liberty. Please read my limited government amendment proposal.

Rick Larsen
United States RepresentativeWashington State, 2nd District

1 comment :

  1. At least you have an explaination. Mr. Reichert won't let me log on to his site right now.


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