This midterm election sent a clear message to Washington: “Listen to the people, or you’re out.” While the dire state of the economy and out-of-control public spending were certainly the frontrunners in motivating voters to make their voices heard, the Democrats' push for “cap-and-trade” legislation followed closely behind.
Voters know that cap-and-trade legislation would lead to increased energy costs, which would negatively affect businesses’ and consumers’ bottom line. Making it harder for consumers and businesses to survive in a tough economy with high unemployment is understandably unpopular.
About two dozen Democrats who had voted in favor of cap-and-trade legislation, or the Waxman-Markey bill as it is officially known, lost their seats in the House of Representatives this midterm election. Compare that to the fate of West Virginia's Joe Manchin who actually fired a shot through a piece of paper marked “cap-and-trade” during a campaign ad. Manchin wanted to make it perfectly clear that he wouldn't follow his party leadership in pushing for this job-killing legislation, and he won handily.
Yet, voters should be warned. Although cap-and-trade may be off the table during the next Congress, another costly energy bill is pending, which might be able to garner more bipartisan support. Senators Jeff Bingaman (D.-N.M.) and Sam Brownback (R.-Kan.) introduced the Renewable Electricity Promotion Act of 2010 in the Senate this fall, and several other Republican senators have already expressed their support.
The Act would mandate that 15 percent of the nation’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2021, thereby increasing the cost of electricity for businesses and consumers. Electricity generated from the wind and sun costs more than extracting energy from coal, oil, natural gas, or atoms. Since the broad majority of U.S. utility companies are regulated, the higher costs of renewable energy would be directly passed on to consumers in the form of rate increases.
The Heritage Foundation estimates that renewable energy standards would raise electricity prices by 36% for households and 60% for businesses. Additionally, the standards are expected to reduce our national income by $2,400 per family of four, and add $10,000 per family to the national debt by 2035.