October 15, 2009

PSA on Energy

Open letter to Sen. Sherrod Brown from a deacon (and geologist) at our church:

Dear Senator Brown,

I am writing you as a concerned constituent with over 20 years experience as an environmental scientist to express my opposition to H.R. 2454, the Markey-Waxman “cap & trade” climate bill.

In my opinion, H.R. 2454 (if passed) will result in significant damage to the U.S. economy while providing little (if any) reduction in the worldwide generation of greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide.

First, H.R. 2454 will place an additional regulatory burden (i.e., the price of carbon permits) on domestic energy producers, which will be passed directly to consumers through higher energy prices. For example, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) estimates that by 2015,this bill would increase the price of gasoline by 6 to 8%, the price of electricity by 2 to 5%, and the price of natural gas by 17 to 26%. By 2030 these increased energy costs rise even higher.

The added burden of such an “energy tax” on top of the local, state and federal taxes (that are virtually guaranteed to increase under the fiscal policies being promoted by the Obama administration) will stifle future economic growth and reduce the average American’s standard of living. Unfortunately, the increased energy costs will adversely impact the poorest Americans the hardest.

Second, the deleterious economic effects of H.R. 2454 will result in significant net job losses throughout the U.S. In Ohio alone, between 79,700 and 108,600 jobs may be lost due to lower industrial output, the costs of complying with required emissions costs, and greater competition from overseas manufacturers (with lower energy costs) associated with this bill (NAM). Further, credible sources indicate that the creation of so-called “green jobs” will not provide an adequate counterbalance to the job losses which will occur under H.R. 2454. Based on Spain’s attempt at creating “green jobs” through government funding (cited by President Obama as a model) an average of nine private-sector jobs will likely be lost for every four government-supported green jobs created in the United States (Study of the effects of employment on public aid to renewable energy sources, March 2009, G.C. Álvarez et al., Universidad Rey Juan Carlos).

Third, other major industrial countries including China, India and Russia appear to have no intention of cooperating with the United States in H.R. 2454’s effort to reduce carbon emissions.

If the United States Senate passes H.R. 2454 and other major industrial countries refuse or fail to reduce their carbon emissions, then as Americans all we will have achieved is placing yet another onerous regulatory burden on ourselves and our children. I agree that the U.S. should put forth an effort to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the environment. However, if any effort is to be successful, it must accommodate economic reality and be based on sound scientific reasoning and be grounded in common sense. There are far better alternatives to H.R. 2454. For example, if we increased our use of natural gas and nuclear power (both domestically available) to generate electricity while reducing our use of coal-generated electricity, we would significantly reduce future carbon dioxide emissions.

In closing, I urge you to vote against H.R. 2454. Thank you for your time and your consideration of my concerns as your constituent.

Rev. Jeffrey W. Martin
B.S. Geology, M.S. Geology/Geophysics
Licensed Professional Geologist in Georgia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania

UPDATE: Reply to our deacon from Sen. Brown:
Dear Reverend Martin:

Thank you for sharing your views about clean energy legislation.

Effective clean energy legislation will reduce climate pollution and promote the production of renewable energy—but most importantly it will ensure the creation of new clean energy jobs and industries. Clean energy legislation must also ensure the competitiveness of domestic manufacturers and protect consumers by keeping utility rates affordable. We must work to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by making America a global leader in clean energy manufacturing.

For this reason, I recently announced legislation called the Investments for Manufacturing Progress and Clean Technology (IMPACT) Act. This legislation, which was included in the House energy bill, would support manufacturers' transition to the clean energy economy and ensure clean energy jobs are created here in the U.S. This legislation would create a revolving loan fund for small and medium size manufacturers to retool and expand facilities to produce clean energy technology and energy efficient products. It is estimated this measure will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

I appreciate hearing your input on this important topic. As clean energy legislation continues to be discussed in Congress, I will work to ensure that an unfair burden is not placed on Ohio families and businesses. I will only support legislation that creates new jobs and economic opportunities across Ohio .

Thank you again for writing.


Sherrod Brown
United States Senator

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