The U.S. Senate opens debate today on the so-called "cap and trade" bill, which Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley fears will hurt consumers in all sorts of ways. First, one report says the legislation could raise homeowners’ utility bills by $3,000 a year. Iowa’s largest utility, MidAmerican Energy, says the measure would cost it $280-million a year.
Grassley says the bill would be far-reaching. "The figures you gave are only for every time you turn on the light switch," Grassley says. "Remember, when you raise energy costs, particularly in manufacturing, but there’s a lot of services that are involved as well, every step through the manufacturing process, you are adding cost through the increased tax that you have on fossil fuels."
He says every consumer product would end up costing more, by one account, $160-billion a year more by 2020. Cap and trade, formally known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, passed the U.S. House late last month. Grassley will take part in a hearing on the measure tomorrow before the Senate Finance Committee, as he fears it may violate World Trade Organization rules.
Grassley says, "The House of Representatives included in it a provision to impose import duties on products coming into our country from any country that does not have the same efforts to cut down on CO2 as the United States has."
The House version of the bill would put an annual cap on carbon emissions while calling for further reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions. If nations like China don’t adopt the same standards as the U.S., Grassley says it’ll lead corporations to simply move more of their operations out of the restrictive U.S. and into places like China — which means more lost American jobs.
Iowa Congressman Steve King, a Republican, says the measure would be a "colossal mistake." Grassley agrees, and says House Democrats are "inconsistent in their views."
Grassley says, "They’re compounding problems that they’ve been complaining about, but yet they think we ought to move ahead on the global warming issue and so they’re covering their hind end with this issue of having import duties."
The 1,400 page bill contains a host of efforts to preserve the environment, but according to one report, would also raise energy taxes $60-billion.