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Thune: Climate Rules Worse Than Cap-and-Trade

When they weren’t trying to orchestrate massive new taxes on health care, Democrats in Congress spent much of last year trying to push through massive new energy taxes. They jammed their scheme, called cap-and-trade, through the House before the Senate heard the opposition of the American people and the legislation stalled.

[IMGCAP(1)]The plan Democrats devised would have raised the price of energy and every product or service that uses energy — in other words, pretty much everything. It would have destroyed jobs, expanded the federal bureaucracy and done almost nothing to help the environment or to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

Like the health care bill, it was a monstrosity that would not have solved the problems it set out to fix and instead would have harmed our economy and the well-being of American families. And just as we saw during the health care debate, when Democrats realized they faced overwhelming opposition from the American people, they looked for a way to ram through their policies anyway.

In the case of cap-and-trade, the Obama administration is now trying to sneak its plan past Congress and the American people by issuing new rules through the Environmental Protection Agency. Under the guise of regulating greenhouse gases, administration officials are slipping in through the back door what they couldn’t get in through the front: a massive energy tax on families and small businesses.

Unfortunately, these EPA climate rules have all the problems of the original cap-and-trade bill, but worse. Where the bill was aimed at large energy users, the new rules could eventually put new limits on millions of businesses, including hospitals, neighborhood dry cleaners and even family farms that have as few as 25 cows. The result would be higher costs for consumers, more red tape for struggling American businesses and unelected bureaucrats standing in the way of economic recovery.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has proposed a resolution to stop this power grab by the EPA, and I am proud to be one of 40 other Senators to co-sponsor this common-sense and bipartisan measure. With sky-high unemployment and a difficult economy already battering families and businesses, America does not need a massive new energy tax.

Recently, a bipartisan group of 20 governors added their voices to the growing chorus of opposition to the EPA’s attempt to sneak through new regulations. The governors wrote to Congress to express grave concerns about the damage these regulations could cause to the economies of their states. Their letter followed others, signed by agriculture and business groups representing everyone from sugar beet farmers to roofers, supporting the Murkowski resolution. These people know, far better than bureaucrats in Washington, that the EPA regulations are the wrong way to make energy policy and are the last thing our economy needs right now.

Instead of creating policies that punish American families and businesses, we should be focusing our effort on a bipartisan energy policy that diversifies our domestic energy supply and supports clean energy. Congress must take a stand on behalf of American consumers and workers against the EPA’s back-door energy tax. The people are counting on us, their elected representatives, to hear their voices and stop these massive and harmful new regulations. I am hopeful that a majority of Senators will support this common-sense, bipartisan proposal.

Sen. John Thune is a Republican from South Dakota.

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