As we saw during the summer of 2008, rising energy costs have an enormous impact on our economy and the pocketbook of every American, and unfortunately there is no silver bullet solution to this problem. I have supported an “all of the above” approach to meeting our nation’s energy needs. Pursuing a comprehensive energy solution that advances traditional, alternative, and renewable energy sources is a national imperative. While reducing reliance on fuel sources that emit carbon is certainly important, we must do so in a manner that encourages the continued development of our nation’s dynamic and powerful economy, not one that restricts it.
In Pennsylvania, 56% of the electricity we consume comes from coal-fired power plants. Our state is the nation’s third largest consumer of coal and the fourth largest producer. Coal, the resource that powered America through its industrialization, remains an incredibly abundant, efficient and cheap energy source for millions of Pennsylvanians. Due to Pennsylvania’s reliance on coal, the price of electricity in our state would increase dramatically under the national energy tax, or a cap and trade regime, as the federal government deliberately drives up the cost to produce energy from fossil fuels as a means to curb carbon emissions. With rate caps set to expire across the state, Pennsylvania families can ill afford any additional increases to their electric bills. In our area, PPL customers’ rates will increase substantially – in addition to what is projected with rates caps expiring in 2010.
America is blessed with abundant supplies of traditional energy sources, both on land and off shore. We must commit to developing these resources in the most environmentally sound manner. I believe we must also expand the use of nuclear energy, which can produce massive quantities of electricity without generating any carbon emissions. Utilizing clean energy technologies in every application possible, including agriculture, electricity generation, manufacturing, and transportation, we can dramatically reduce our economy’s carbon reliance in a responsible, yet progressive way that does not impose unnecessary hardships on the American people. Punitive legislation that hurts American workers and constrains domestic industries will never resolve our energy concerns. That is why I voted against the national energy tax, called cap and trade, which passed the House of Representatives on June 26, 2009. I voted against this legislation because of the added costs to consumers in the form of higher electric and natural gas bills, as well as higher gasoline prices at the pump. Moreover, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) estimates 66,000 jobs in our state would be lost by 2020 as a result of this bill.
As a founding co-chairman of the House Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Caucus, I have been an advocate of greater research, development, and commercialization of hydrogen - a very promising, domestically produced, clean-energy technology. I strongly believe hydrogen is one of the numerous alternative fuels that will help our nation reverse its reliance on foreign oil. Its development must be pursued with as much vigor and determination as other new energy technologies, like wind, solar and geothermal power. We have learned from past mistakes that no single energy source should be advanced at the cost of another, and I have worked hard to ensure federal funding for the research and development of this exciting technology is not eliminated and instead remains robust.
Additionally, we must promote greater conservation through energy efficiency. In 2007, I supported legislation to improve Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards for cars and light trucks to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. This modification will help drive down American consumption of gasoline by making the cars we drive more fuel efficient. Congress must also continue to support public transportation and encourage more Americans to embrace simple practices that reduce fuel consumption like biking, carpooling or walking. We also must continue to encourage Americans to purchase more efficient products for the home and workplace, including appliances, doors, roofing and windows. I support prolonging the incentives that are currently in place to help with the purchase of these items and always encourage constituents to learn more about energy saving products at www.energystar.gov.