Every time a regulation is proposed to improve the health, safety, or well-being of the American people, big corporations respond with predictable scare tactics and bogus impact studies. This time around, one of the most vocal pawns of the Big Oil special interests that oppose job-creating energy reform is Congressman Pat Toomey.
Contrary to Congressman Toomey's "sky is falling" rhetoric, all legitimate studies show that energy reform will create jobs for Pennsylvania and save consumers money.
A rigorous independent study conducted by Yale, the University of Illinois, and the University of California confirmed previous research that found the American Clean Energy and Security Act would create up to 78,000 new Pennsylvania jobs this decade and increase our GDP by upwards of $4.3 billion. Nationwide, it will create up to 1.9 million jobs boost GDP by up to $111 billion.
Energy reform will save Americans money. The Yale study demonstrates that reform will provide up to $1,175 in household energy savings every year by 2020, and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates reform will reduce the deficit by $24 billion over the next 10 years.
The bill also includes protections and incentives for Pennsylvania's vital coal and natural gas industries. It will actually increase coal power generation by 17 percent, according the Department of Energy, by investing nearly $240 billion into next-generation coal technology.
Why are the figures Congressman Toomey cites so radically different? Because they are bought and paid for by an energy industry that is fighting hard to preserve the business-as-usual of skyrocketing prices, little oversight, and virtually no accountability for recklessness.
Congressman Toomey cannot point to a single legitimate study to backup his flawed assertions about energy reform. Instead, he touts:
• The National Association of Manufacturers, an industry lobbying group
• The right-wing Beacon Hill Institute, which partnered with an organization funded by Exxon-Mobil
• A study paid for by a consortium of drillers, the Marcellus Shale Gas Committee
• And a "study" referenced by certain members of the Pennsylvania Utility Commission, but not sanctioned by any commission, that refers to an entirely different piece of legislation.
This is an old routine.
When we reduced CFCs, DuPont testified that it would cause "severe economic and social disruption." It didn't.
When we improved tailpipe standards, automakers protested that they were unattainable. American innovation easily met and exceeded the challenge.
When we passed the Clean Air Act, the same industry barons and their representatives in Congress insisted that our economy would grind to a halt. Since the law was passed in 1970, dangerous air pollutants have been cut by 50% or more; lead emissions by 99%; sulfur dioxide by 58%; carbon monoxide by 58%, and so on -- all while our economy grew by more than 200%.
The most stunning success was our fight against acid rain. It was built on a cap-and-trade system that the Bush Administration found brought in $120 billion in benefits at a cost of only $3 billion.
We need jobs. That means we must seize a new initiative, not stick with a failed status quo.
Job growth comes from innovation. We cannot expect to lead the 21st century with 20th century technology. Last year, China passed the United States in investments in clean energy technology. China now boasts the world's largest solar panel industry - which exports 95% of its production, including to the United States.
China gets it. Why doesn't Pat Toomey?
Why would he deliberately mislead the people about the effects of energy reform and flout discredited studies to oppose creating jobs and saving money for Pennsylvanians? Whose side is he on?
Immediately after oil began spilling into the Gulf of Mexico, Halliburton, which was involved in the failed rig, began pouring contributions into the campaigns of corporate politicians. No federal candidate was offered, or accepted, more than Congressman Toomey. He brushed off the contribution, saying that, given his record, it's "not shocking" that he receives money from corporations like Halliburton.
Not shocking, indeed.
The truth is that every President since Richard Nixon has pledged to free this country from foreign oil. "Cap and trade" is a conservative, free-market approach developed in the Reagan White House and first implemented by George H.W. Bush. We're losing the race for next-generation technology to communist China.
We can't afford to fall for the same old scare tactics from Big Oil and their politicians.
Phony studies can't hide the fact that energy reform will be good for our country and our economy. That's why the bill I voted for is supported by major manufacturers and power companies like GE, Ford, Shell, and Exelon.
It's time to take the initiative and put our country, and our economy, back on the cutting edge.
As a former 3-star Navy Admiral, Congressman Joe Sestak is the highest-ranking Veteran elected to Congress and is the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania.