When raving about the impending congressional fight over energy legislation, Rep. John Shimkus always forgets to factor in one key detail: global warming. In January, the Collinsville Republican called cap-and-trade “a shell game to hide the cost from the ultimate ...
When raving about the impending congressional fight over energy legislation, Rep. John Shimkus always forgets to factor in one key detail: global warming.
In January, the Collinsville Republican called cap-and-trade “a shell game to hide the cost from the ultimate person who is going to pay” without factoring in the actual global cost of environmental devastation. On Wednesday, joining a bipartisan group of coal- and oil-state lawmakers, he said he would vote against any climate-protection plan that results in a loss of jobs. The Washington Times has the details:
“What happens to these coal miner jobs?” asked Illinois Republican John Shimkus, as he held up a large, black-and-white picture of blue-collar workers.
“I challenge the Democrats to move this bill, because we will defeat them at the polls,” Mr. Shimkus said during a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittee on energy and environment.
It’s true that under a cap-and-trade plan, carbon-emitting companies will have to pay for the right to pollute. In this scenario, it’s possible that coal companies -- whose profits will be diminished marginally -- could lay off some of their workforce. But the inverse is also true: Exposing the true cost of fossil fuels will spur a wave of clean-energy investment that will lead to lots of new jobs.
According to New York University Law School Dean Richard Revesz and Institute for Policy Integrity executive director Michael Livermore, these could include research and development in new technologies, new factories to produce solar panels and wind turbines, and energy-efficiency retrofits of commercial and residential real estate. And yes, coal miners could be retrained to perform many of those tasks.
If set up properly, cap-and-trade would also shield middle and working class people from the temporary hike in utility costs, a point Rep. Peter Roskam failed to acknowledge earlier this month. The Congressional Budget Office recently examined three options for what to do with the revenue generated by a cap: rebate it back to taxpayers, use it to cut corporate taxes, or give it to polluting industries in the form of free permit allocations. Grist’s David Roberts provides the takeaway message:
Auctioning permits and rebating the revenue, compared to freely allocating permits, produces the same macroeconomic effect, but auction-and-rebate is vastly more progressive, favoring low-income taxpayers, while freely allocating permits overwhelmingly favors the rich.
No matter how economically and environmentally rational they may be, these are arguments we'll never see Shimkus consider.