Millions of Jobs Would Vanish With Energy Bill

By David N. Taylor and Jay Timmons

This Labor Day, America is in its 20th month of recession, making this the longest and deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression. More than six million jobs have been lost across the country, and manufacturing has suffered disproportionately, accounting for 1.8 million of those lost jobs.

So it’s difficult to understand how our federal lawmakers could seriously consider legislation that would depress economic growth and job creation for the next 20 years. But that’s what we can expect from the far-reaching climate-change legislation headed for a vote in the Senate when Congress returns from its summer recess.

In June, the House narrowly passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, sponsored by Reps. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.) and Ed Markey (D., Mass.). The complex bill attempts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, and heavy costs will be attached to the effort. The legislation would place a huge burden on job creators by imposing restrictions on the type of energy they use and how they use it.

According to a recent analysis by the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Council for Capital Formation, Pennsylvania would lose up to 97,500 jobs by 2030 as a result of this bill – even when the "green jobs" created are accounted for. Nationally, as many as 2.4 million jobs would be lost.

These losses would be caused by lower industrial output due to higher energy prices, the high cost of complying with required emissions cuts, and greater competition from overseas manufacturers that enjoy lower energy costs.

The recent analysis also predicted that Waxman-Markey would cause Pennsylvania’s gross state product to decline by up to $20.7 billion as of 2030, while average annual household income would drop by up to $1,507. Meanwhile, gasoline prices would rise by as much as 25 percent, and electricity prices would go up by as much as 41 percent.

Moreover, local, state, and federal government agencies would also face higher energy costs, leaving fewer dollars for everything else. Poorer citizens would be hit especially hard, as they spend a larger share of their incomes on food and electricity, and they would be least able to cope with pay reductions or unemployment.

The legislation’s environmental benefits, meanwhile, are questionable. Two of the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, India and China, are not participating in any mandatory emissions-reduction programs. And judging by recent statements by their leaders, they don’t plan to. The bill’s new taxes and regulations would penalize American businesses, putting them at a disadvantage in competing with those countries.

Manufacturers in the United States have already made progress in conservation and energy efficiency. In fact, we welcomed many of the provisions in Waxman-Markey, such as expansion of research and development for clean-energy technologies; support for carbon capture and sequestration projects; incentives for energy efficiency; and worker training in clean-energy industries. Incentives for expedited development of nuclear energy production are also positive, although they are not as strong as they need to be. We remain concerned, however, about the bill’s energy mandates, which will not solve our energy-efficiency problems.

While manufacturers support environmental stewardship, we believe the Waxman-Markey bill would do more economic harm than environmental good. Given all our economic difficulties in Pennsylvania and across the nation, it’s hard to justify such an anti-jobs, anti-growth bill. Our lawmakers’ priority should be putting Americans back to work.

Jay Timmons is executive vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers. David N. Taylor is executive director of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association. He can be contacted at [email protected].