This Friday, representatives in the House will vote on a controversial measure that President Barack Obama has called “extraordinarily important.” The bill, which totals at over 1,200 pages, aims to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases that many believe is the source of global warming.H.R. 2454, or the American Clean Energy and Security Act, has been met with support from House Democrats and the Obama administration, but faces significant opposition from House members who believe the measure would cripple economic development and the energy industry.
Representatives Henry A. Waxman of California and Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, sponsors of the bill, have claimed that the act will help to move America in the right direction.
“This legislation will create millions of clean energy jobs, put America on the path to energy independence, and cut global warming pollution,” said Waxman.
The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity has raised objections to the bill, claiming that its provision forcing electricity providers to reduce emissions could create higher energy costs for Americans.
According to the Center for American Progress, the bill would help to create roughly 1.7 million new jobs, including 72,000 in Pennsylvania alone. Many in Congress, however, have argued that the bill would stifle economic growth by limiting the capacity of businesses to manufacture and distribute products cheaply and efficiently.
Nobel-laureate economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman recently addressed these concerns, saying that “the best available estimates suggest that the costs of an emissions-limitation program would be modest, as long as it’s implemented gradually.” Investing in new, green technology would also potentially “give businesses a reason to invest in new equipment and facilities even in the face of excess capacity.”
Larger energy companies like Exelon Corporation have met the bill with enthusiastic support. But many smaller manufacturers and distributors aren’t sure that the initial investments required by H.R. 2454 will create long-term growth.
In a recent Philadelphia Inquirer online post by Joseph DiStefano, Pennsylvania business owners expressed their concerns and doubts over the bill.
“This is going to have a profound impact on the Pennsylvania economy. This is a bad piece of legislation for Pennsylvania,” said Rob Powelson, a commissioner of Pennsylvania Public Utilities.
Opposition to the bill has been significant, but much of it stems from concerns over initial costs that appear detrimental to existing businesses, not the idea of improving America’s carbon footprint. Congressmen and lobbyists who support H.R. 2454 may do well to listen to the concerns of both Democrats and Republicans when considering timetables and budget concerns surrounding the bill.