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Illinois Country Living

John Shimkus

Congressman John Shimkus
(R, Illinois-19)


Carbon Cap and Trade Harmful To Economy
Energy taxes are the wrong way to address greenhouse gas concerns

I recently had the great opportunity to climb to the very top of the Gob Nob Wind Turbine outside of Farmersville. Owned by the Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative, this turbine is 220 feet tall and at full capacity can generate power for 370 co-op members.

I am glad to have supported programs which helped make this turbine possible and also support tax credits for other renewable energy sources such as solar and hydrogen. Additionally, I have supported increasing the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards to make automobiles more fuel-efficient. Over one-third of our carbon emissions come from transportation. Increasing our fuel efficiency and using more renewable fuels will help lower our carbon emissions.

I also support removing barriers to nuclear energy, which has no carbon emissions. Only about 20 percent of the United States’ electricity is generated by nuclear power, while France meets nearly 75 percent of its needs through nuclear energy.

These components are all part of an all-you-can-create American energy plan – which I strongly support. What I do NOT support is the proposed cap-and-trade policy being debated right now in Washington, D.C.

On May 5, the House Republicans’ American Energy Solutions Group, of which I am a co-chair, held its first hearing in Washington, D.C. We heard from former Michigan Governor John Engler, now president of the National Association of Manufacturers, about higher energy costs and job losses if a cap-and-trade system is passed into law.

During the hearing, the Heritage Foundation analyst told us of its estimate of three million jobs lost if cap-and-trade becomes law. I have seen other estimates of up to seven million jobs lost. The American Energy Solutions Group held similar hearings in Pennsylvania, Indiana and California in late May to explain how this proposal will really affect our nation.

On May 6, I had breakfast in Washington D.C. with representatives of several Illinois electric cooperatives. We discussed the negative impacts a cap-and-trade scheme could have on them and most importantly their consumers.

On May 7, I joined fellow coal state Republicans in discussing the negative effects that cap-and-trade will bring to our districts. During the news conference I discussed my recent visit to the Prairie State Energy Campus in Washington County in my district. (The Southern Illinois Power Cooperative and Prairie Power, Inc. are two of the electric co-op co-owners of the power plant.)

Prairie State employs 1,500 people during construction of a new coal mine and electricity generating power plant. Construction jobs will peak at 2,300, and 500 permanent jobs will be created. I have other potential coal mines in development and one power plant on the drawing board in my district.

But if a cap-and-trade system is put into place, the 3,300 current mine jobs in Illinois could disappear, and new jobs might never happen. And those jobs help create other jobs in their communities. The Illinois Coal Association says that about 12,000 other jobs exist just because of the mine jobs in Illinois.

Additionally, the cost to every American, not just coal country, is great. Estimates of similar legislation to that being discussed now are that electricity prices could rise between 101 and 129 percent by 2030; natural gas prices could rise between 108 and 146 percent by 2030; and gasoline could rise $.71 to $2.53 per gallon by 2020.

I firmly believe that costly carbon caps and energy taxes are the wrong way to address greenhouse gas concerns. I must stand up for jobs and for every family who cannot afford what an MIT study estimates is a cap-and-trade tax of $3,900 per household.

Make sure that you let your elected member of Congress know how you feel. And if you live in the 19th District, let me know – whether you agree or disagree with me.


Congressman John Shimkus (R, Illinois-19) was first elected to Congress in 1996. He serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The opinions and views of guest commentators are their own and may not represent those of the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives or the electric co-ops of Illinois.

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