Washington, D.C. - Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, issued the following statement today after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) introduced the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 as an amendment to small business legislation.
"The Energy Tax Prevention Act would end EPA's backdoor cap-and-trade agenda," Sen. Inhofe said. "That agenda is designed to make gasoline and electricity more expensive for consumers, families, farmers, truckers-essentially anyone who fills up or flips a switch. It's also designed to restrict the supply and block the production of America's vast energy resources, which are the largest on Earth.
"Today was a wake-up call to my colleagues: we have legislation before us to help keep energy prices affordable. Now they have a choice: to support the Obama Administration's attack on affordable energy, which will bring fewer jobs, a less competitive manufacturing sector, and a chronically sluggish economy, or vote for the Energy Tax Prevention Act to grow the economy and protect small businesses, manufacturers, and consumers from higher energy prices."
The Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill that ultimately died in Congress would have raised gasoline prices, according to the Energy Information Administration, by 33 percent (up to $1.28 more per gallon) in 2030.
Obama Administration officials repeatedly expressed a preference for legislation over EPA's regulations, on the assumption that it would cost consumers less. "I firmly believe," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said, "and the president has said all along that new legislation is the best way to deal with climate change."
Indeed, energy prices must increase in order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. As Peter Orszag, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, testified:
Price increases would be essential to the success of a cap-and-trade program because they would be the most important mechanism through which businesses and households would be encouraged to make investments and behavioral changes that reduced CO2 emissions. [Emphasis added]
EPA's regulations already are impacting oil refiners. Consider Lion Oil. Vice President Steve Cousins recently testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee that his company began a major $2 million expansion of its El Dorado refinery in 2007, with 2,000 construction jobs, but its completion has since been stalled. As Cousins explained:
"The uncertainty and potentially prohibitive costs associated with possible cap-and-trade legislation and EPA's greenhouse gas regulations were a critical factor leading us to delay the completion of the expansion."
Cousins also testified in 2009 that cap-and-trade legislation would have forced his company out of business. He sees the same threat looming at EPA:
"It is our fear that left unchecked, EPA will use the Clean Air Act to drive to exactly the same goals as the defeated cap-and-trade legislation that Congress so wisely chose not to pass. And in that pursuit, EPA will inflict the same damage on our company and our nation's economy."