Track and Quotes

Show Shipment Information - Track and Trace PackageTrack and Trace
Get a Shipping Rate QuoteRate Quote

Republicans Criticize Early Vote on Cap-and-Trade Bill in
Monday, 29 June 2009 00:00

House Democratic leaders said they hoped to pass a controversial cap-and-trade bill late last week, despite vocal protests by Republicans who said the complex legislation amounts to a large tax increase and needs more time for debate.

Republican leaders, speaking at hastily called news conferences only days before the anticipated vote, cautioned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to give the landmark energy bill more time for hearings.

Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee, said the bill could affect transportation but that his committee would have no opportunity to hold hearings.

“This is the largest energy tax increase in the history of the United States, and probably in the history of the world,” Mica said.

At press time, a spokesman for Pelosi confirmed that House Democratic leaders had scheduled the bill for a vote on June 26, hoping to pass it before the House’s Independence Day recess.

Democrats denied that they were rushing the vote, saying it closely follows a timeline set in January by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Energy Committee and a co-sponsor of the Clean Energy bill.

“In our view, this is exactly what’s been outlined,” Pelosi’s spokesman, Drew Hammill, told Transport Topics.

A potential obstacle for the bill’s passage apparently was eliminated last week after House Democratic leaders announced an agreement to offer concessions to congressional members from several agricultural states.

Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), House Agriculture Committee chairman, announced last week that he is supporting the legislation after he reached an agreement with Waxman that would allow farmers and ranchers to participate in a market-based carbon offset program.

But Republicans said their opponents were preventing the public from learning important details about the cap-and-trade plan, including its cost to consumers, bypassing several key committees.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) called the cap-and-trade bill “a national tax.”

“I think we are wrongheaded when we are going to tax individual consumers and businesses,” Capito said at a June 24 news conference. “We’re going to drive our manufacturing jobs across the oceans.”

House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) questioned whether Democrats had enough votes to pass the bill.

“What we’re hearing is that the proponents of this legislation, speaker Pelosi and Mr. Waxman, have maybe 190 votes,” Cantor said. “That falls way short of the necessary 218.”

The bill’s sponsors, pointing to a study by the Congressional Budget Office, said that the net annual cost of the legislation would total about $175 per household by 2020.

The proposal “sets America on a course of energy independence while taking significant steps to reduce dangerous global warming pollution,” Waxman said.

President Obama weighed in on the legislation during a June 23 news conference, urging the House to pass the bill quickly.

“At a time of great fiscal challenges, this legislation is paid for by the polluters who currently emit the dangerous carbon emissions that contaminate the water we drink and pollute the air we breathe,” Obama said. “It also provides assistance to businesses and communities as they make the gradual transition to clean-energy technologies.”

The bill does not clearly address trucking’s role in the cap-and-trade program, and it fails to “harmonize” the different paths being taken by the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency with regard to heavy trucks, said Glen Kedzie, environmental affairs counsel for American Trucking Associations.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is currently studying setting fuel economy standards for heavy-duty trucks, while EPA is collecting diesel greenhouse gas emissions data through the SmartWay program.

ATA is hopeful the two agencies will ultimately work together toward a single fuel efficiency standard as they plan to do for automobiles and light trucks, Kedzie said.

The good news is that the legislation, for the first time ever, formally recognizes EPA’s SmartWay
program, giving the agency the power to expand the program, Kedzie said.

Kedzie said the big concern in the trucking industry is that the cap-and-trade bill will increase costs for refineries and other oil producers, who will pass along their costs for carbon emissions.

That, in turn, is almost certain to cause an increase in the cost of diesel fuel, Kedzie said.

“Now you’re just adding another layer of uncertainty into the mix,” Kedzie said.

Transport Topics, 6/29/2009