Cap and trade legislation is off the agenda for this summer and that's good news for Nebraskans. I have been fighting against this legislation because it would harm Nebraska's economy, and was prepared to take the extraordinary measure, for me, of voting against even bringing it up for debate. That's how bad it is.
I do not support cap and trade legislation as currently written. It is one of those issues that must be stopped before it does irreparable harm to states like Nebraska.
Cap and trade is essentially a tax on carbon that is emitted from a variety of sources, including coal-fired power plants that provide most of the electricity we use in Nebraska. I oppose it because if it were to pass it would significantly increase the utility rates in Nebraska which would damage our economy. That would mean much higher electricity bills for homeowners, for businesses and for farmers who depend on reasonable electricity rates for irrigation.
The bills would spike because Nebraska is a 100 percent public power state that cannot spread costs of cap and trade policies onto investors. Only Nebraska electricity ratepayers would pay.
At this point, it's difficult to see how the cap and trade system could be fixed. I am skeptical that putting a "cap" on greenhouse gas emissions and then having a system for power plants and others to "trade" allowances for emissions they produce--a kind of permit to emit-- will work without adversely impacting Nebraska and other states that are in a similar position.
At a time when we just passed legislation to rein in the recklessness on Wall Street we should not create another system that has the potential for abuse by creating a massive trading system that involves the trading of permits on pollution, with the potential for secondary and derivative markets.
I do support working on broad energy legislation promoting renewable fuels, wind power, nuclear power, natural gas, and domestic oil, which could include setting reasonable targets for CO2 emissions reductions, and incentives to help America reach those cleaner air goals.
Obviously, in the wake of the oil spill, energy legislation should reexamine how to develop our oil resources, but with an understanding that our economy is still dependant on oil and gas and moving away from energy development here will only deepen our dependence on foreign sources of energy.
With the U.S. economy struggling to recover from a major recession, now is not the time to pursue legislation that would raise electricity rates in Nebraska and many other states, thus putting America at a competitive disadvantage with other countries and damaging the U.S. economy.