Now that the Senate has returned from its August recess, its members have many issues with which to contend. Although health care reform has received much of the attention in recent weeks, another bill, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454) or more widely known as Waxman-Markey or “cap & trade,” is equally deserving of scrutiny. This is because most major economic impact studies demonstrate that the “cap & trade” scheme proposed in the Waxman-Markey bill will create massive consumer costs with undefined environmental benefits.

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In June, the Waxman-Markey bill narrowly passed the U.S. House 219-212 with the majority of 28 state delegations opposing the bill.

And we have already gotten a taste of what the U.S. Senate intends to do in legislation offered up just this week by Senators Kerry and Boxer. While there are differences between the Kerry/Boxer legislation and the bill that passed in the U.S. House, such as increased emission targets and preserving the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) authority to regulate large sources of greenhouse gases, such as coal-fired power plants, there are also similarities. Both bills will result in massive job loss across the country, increase the costs of goods and services, and make American products uncompetitive in the global marketplace. It is clear that both House and Senate leadership have decided to ignore the concerns of their own members, not to mention the American people, by attempting to rush through legislation that would only increase economic burdens on our nation's workers.

Members of industry understand the importance of environmental stewardship, voluntarily spending millions on this effort each year. Therefore, they commend the efforts of those trying to legitimately address this complex scientific issue while affording equal protections to the U.S. economy - these are not mutually exclusive principles. Furthermore, it is difficult for the American manufacturer to understand how adding new regulatory burdens with undefined indirect costs and increasing direct costs of everything from fuel to electricity will not harm domestic industry.

Brett Vassey

Brett Vassey is the President and CEO of the Virginia Manufacturers Association.