As we approach the summer season, we are reminded of the high energy costs that we endured just a year ago. It was a difficult time for many, as travel plans were shelved and budgets had to be cut in the face of historic gas prices. Since that time, another crisis has gripped our country. Our economy is in a deep recession, and we have witnessed the unemployment rate in Indiana rise above an appalling 10 percent.
The working families, small businesses and family farms of Indiana are displaying tremendous grit and gumption as they strain to overcome these formidable challenges. Yet at a time when our economy is in such a critical condition, some in Washington have decided that now is an opportune moment to impose an energy plan that would drastically raise energy costs for every consumer and taxpayer. Many on Capitol Hill — myself included — disagree.
Under the guise of providing a solution to global warming, the so-called cap-and-trade bill would increase taxes on every Hoosier who uses any form of energy — from flipping a light switch to plugging in an appliance — and would have a devastating impact on an already ailing Indiana economy. According to the Energy Information Administration, Indiana would be one of the hardest-hit states in the nation because 94 percent of our energy comes from fossil fuels, coal in particular.
While this plan may have been crafted with good intentions, it clearly does more harm than good. The onerous costs that will result from this legislation will only push unemployment up farther as small businesses and factories are forced to cut jobs and even close for good. Those businesses and factories that survive will do so only by passing their increased energy costs on to consumers, forcing them to bear a bigger financial burden.
Not only that, but the plan fails to live up to its ostensible concern of protecting the environment. The truth is, this misguided cap-and-tax plan will relocate manufacturing plants overseas to countries with less-stringent environmental regulations, essentially negating any possible emissions reductions by transporting pollution to another part of the world.
There is a better way. We can protect our environment without declaring economic war on the Midwest. We can work toward a cleaner atmosphere while still promoting economic growth and job creation. And we can be good stewards of the Earth without imposing a national energy tax on almost every Hoosier.
I have the privilege of serving as chairman of the American Energy Solutions Working Group in the U.S. House of Representatives; in the coming weeks, we will be conducting hearings across the country, including in Indianapolis. The purpose of these public forums is to have a dialogue with the American people about ways we can work together to increase American energy production, encourage greater efficiency and conservation, and promote the use of alternative fuels without killing jobs.
I believe the best way forward is an “all of the above” energy solution that produces American energy made by American workers while encouraging greater efficiency, conservation, promoting the use and development of alternative fuels, and allowing for increased use of clean and safe nuclear energy that does not emit carbon. This plan would create jobs, grow the economy and move our nation in the direction of energy independence.
These are serious times with serious challenges, and inaction is not an option. But the enormity of this crisis should encourage us to act responsibly, not rashly. I am committed to finding energy solutions that not only utilize the natural resources of our land, but more importantly, tap into the unlimited resource of American ingenuity.