Weekly Columns

National Energy Tax

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Washington, June 24, 2009 | comments
The House Agriculture Committee concluded its first public hearing to review the Waxman-Markey climate change and energy bill (H.R. 2454) on June 11. This was the first time the committee had the opportunity to examine the impact this bill will have on production agriculture and rural America. Unfortunately, this may have been the only time.

It is important to note that there were three witness panels during this hearing, which included the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, and representatives from conservation, energy, and agriculture-related organizations including the American Farm Bureau Federation. Not one of these individuals endorsed the bill as it reads today. Secretary Vilsack said he supported “the notion that there’s obviously work yet to be done on this bill.”

Even worse, Secretary Vilsack admitted that the USDA had not completed any analysis of how this bill will impact farmers and ranchers, but he admitted that “it is fair to say there may be additional costs associated with a farming operation.” Vilsack described the bill as a “work in progress.”

A thousand-page bill of this magnitude deserves thoughtful consideration and debate. Yet, we have Speaker Nancy Pelosi ignoring the legislative process and trying to force a “work in progress” through Congress and insisting that this bill be on the House floor for a vote before the July Fourth recess.

The cap-and-trade part of the bill creates a national energy tax that will do more harm to production agriculture, American industry, and our standard of living than it will do any good for the environment. From higher energy costs to lost jobs to higher food prices, cap-and-trade promises to cap our incomes, our livelihoods, and our standard of living, while it trades away American jobs and opportunities.

Agriculture is a prime target because it is energy intensive. Last week, the Heritage Foundation released an economic study on how cap-and-trade will impact farmers. That study revealed that by 2035, the average net income for farmers will decrease by 57 percent. No wonder 100 agriculture and food groups have expressed opposition to the bill with more groups joining the cause every day. They understand that this legislation will destroy their livelihoods.

There are too many unanswered questions for me to support this bill. I cannot support a “work in progress.” And, I cannot support a bill that has the potential to permanently destroy the agriculture industry.
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Tags: Energy