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This week Congress is set to release the details of the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act, a bill that purports to combat global warming by setting strict limits on carbon emissions. I’m not a candidate for any office – now or ever again – and I’ve approached the "climate change" debate with an open-mind. But it’s clear to me that the nation, and in particular Indiana, my home state, will be terribly disserved by this cap-and-trade policy on the verge of passage in the House.
The largest scientific and economic questions are being addressed by others, so I will confine myself to reporting about how all this looks from the receiving end of the taxes, restrictions and mandates Congress is now proposing.
Quite simply, it looks like imperialism. This bill would impose enormous taxes and restrictions on free commerce by wealthy but faltering powers – California, Massachusetts and New York – seeking to exploit politically weaker colonies in order to prop up their own decaying economies. Because proceeds from their new taxes, levied mostly on us, will be spent on their social programs while negatively impacting our economy, we Hoosiers decline to submit meekly.
The Waxman-Markey legislation would more than double electricity bills in Indiana. Years of reform in taxation, regulation and infrastructure-building would be largely erased at a stroke. In recent years, Indiana has led the nation in capturing international investment, repatriating dollars spent on foreign goods or oil and employing Americans with them. Waxman-Markey seems designed to reverse that flow. "Closed: Gone to China" signs would cover Indiana’s stores and factories.
Our state’s share of national income has been slipping for decades, but it is offset in part by living costs some 8% lower than the national average. Doubled utility bills for low-income Hoosiers would be an especially cruel consequence of the Waxman bill. Forgive us for not being impressed at danglings of welfare-like repayments to some of those still employed, with some fraction of the dollars extracted from our state.
And for what? No honest estimate pretends to suggest that a U.S. cap-and-trade regime will move the world’s thermometer by so much as a tenth of a degree a half century from now. My fellow citizens are being ordered to accept impoverishment for a policy that won’t save a single polar bear.
We are told that although China, India and others show no signs of joining in this dismal process, we will eventually induce their participation by "setting an example." Watching the impending indigence of the Midwest, and the flow of jobs from our shores to theirs, our friends in Asia and the Third World are far more likely to choose any other path but ours.
Politicians in Washington speak of a reawakened appreciation for manufacturing and American competitiveness. But under their policy, those who make real products will suffer. Already we observe the piranha swarm of green lobbyists wangling special exemptions, subsidies and side deals. The ordinary Hoosier was not invited to this party, and can expect at most only table scraps at the service entrance.
No one in Indiana is arguing for the status quo: Hoosiers have been eager to pursue a new energy future. We rocketed from nowhere to national leadership in biofuels production in the last four years. We were the No. 1 state in the growth of wind power in 2008. And we have embarked on an aggressive energy-conservation program, indubitably the most cost-effective means of limiting CO2.
Most importantly, we are out to be the world leader in making clean coal – including the potential for carbon capture and sequestration. The world’s first commercial-scale clean coal power plant is under construction in our state, and the first modern coal-to-natural gas plant is coming right behind it. We eagerly accept the responsibility to develop alternatives to the punitive, inequitable taxation of cap and trade.
Our president has commendably committed himself to "government that works." But his imperial climate-change policy is government that cannot work, and we humble colonials out here in the provinces have no choice but to petition for relief from the Crown’s impositions.
Mr. Daniels, a Republican, is the governor of Indiana.