Republicans say US economic competitiveness at risk from climate pact, oppose Obama approach

Saturday, December 12, 2009

GOP: US competitiveness at risk from climate pact

WASHINGTON — A Republican lawmaker says U.S. participation in an international agreement on climate change would result in soaring energy prices and damage America’s economic competitiveness.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee is among a group of GOP congressional critics of Democratic climate legislation who plan to travel to the climate conference in Copenhagen next week to voice opposition to the blueprint offered by President Barack Obama.

“If President Obama has his way, the Copenhagen conference will produce mandatory emissions limits that would destroy millions of American jobs and damage our economic competitiveness for decades to come,” Blackburn said the GOP’s radio and Internet address Saturday.

Blackburn reaffirmed the position of Republican leaders in Congress that mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions would result in dramatically higher energy costs as industry was forced to shift away from fossil fuels or pay for carbon-capture technologies.

Supporters of such caps argue that legislation can be crafted to mitigate many of the additional costs to consumers through increases in energy efficiency and other measures such as allowing polluters to purchase emission allowances if that’s cheaper than making actual reductions from their smokestacks.

Obama has said that the United States will commit at Copenhagen to greenhouse gas reductions — mainly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels — in the range of 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels.

But Blackburn maintained that the Democrats’ cap-and-trade proposal to achieve such reductions would create “a bureaucratic nightmare that would make households, small businesses and family farms pay higher prices for electricity, gasoline, food and virtually every product made in America.”

“Just think of what will happen to small businesses and manufacturers hit with these skyrocketing energy bills, especially when nations like India and China don’t agree to these mandatory emissions limits,” she said.

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