Space, Moll spar over energy bill

July 1, 2009

ZANESVILLE — U.S. Rep. Zack Space thinks it’s time for the country to move forward in the quest for energy independence.

That’s why he strongly defends his yes vote on the Waxman-Markey Bill — otherwise known as cap and trade — even with equally strong opposing opinions.

By the margin of 219 to 212 on Friday, the House of Representatives passed the bill aimed at addressing global warming and transforming how the country produces and uses energy.

The cap and trade system sets a limit on emissions of heat-trapping gases and allows emitters to trade pollution permits among themselves. Over the years the cap would grow tighter, increase the price of emissions and force industry to find cleaner ways of making energy.

Even though 44 Democrats voted against it, Space favored the bill because it “represents a positive and significant step in attaining energy independence” and is an opportunity to find cleaner ways of producing energy.

“The bill does three things; it creates energy independence and a future for coal, and establishes a new energy sector of the economy,” Space said. “This is so important because in the ’70s when OPEC embargoed oil it was a shock to the economy. We became conscious of how reliant we were on another country for our energy needs. Afterwards the country started a brief effort for energy independence, but we abandoned those pursuits in 1980. Now 35 years later, we regret not taking that bold action to energy independence.”

Space said for areas like Ohio and West Virginia that rely on coal as an energy source, this is an opportunity to invest in producing clean coal.

The bill allows for $180 billion to be used through 2050 for research and development of the use of clean coal technology.

“This is an investment of historic proportions and the bill represents a bright future for coal,” Space said. “AEP already has plans on the shelf to retrofit a facility in West Virginia. I spoke with AEP representatives in Conesville and they said it would take a lot of space; they would need to double the size of their operations.”

Some critics of the bill fear it will only drive up energy prices, digging into Americans’ pockets even further in the waning economy. Republican leaders and others opposing the bill say it is nothing more than an additional tax that will only hurt supporters in the long run.

Jeanette Moll, who is running as a Republican against Space for Ohio’s 18th Congressional district, is one of them.

“This national energy tax will cost the district $350 million, hundreds of jobs, and it’s estimated that people will pay over $3,000 a year for energy,” she said. “New taxes now would hit people hard, especially those on a fixed income. This is the wrong bill at the wrong time.”

Space disagreed.

“Energy prices have increased consistently for five years, and they’ll continue to rise if we don’t do something about it,” Space said. “The Congressional Budget Office said by 2020 it will cost an additional $175 per year per household. But I think we’ll end up saving homeowners more by 2020 because we’ll be more efficient in how we deliver energy. Over half of the constituents I represent will see a decrease in energy costs because of the bill’s allowances and incentives.”

In response to Space’s support, the National Republican Congressional Committee began a media blitz against him this week.

“Once again Democrats are forcing an extreme agenda of more spending, more taxes, and fewer jobs,” said NRCC Communications Director Ken Spain. “In the midst of a severe economic recession, Nancy Pelosi and Zack Space are inflicting further damage on our economy with a job-killing national energy tax. The time has come for Zack Space to start answering to the interests of small businesses and middle class families, not the San Francisco Speaker’s personal political agenda.”

“It’s important for voters in the 18th District to be aware,” Moll added. “Cap and trade is an energy tax. We have our own supply of coal, eighty-nine percent of the region depends on coal. This will impact coal and manufacturing jobs and this will be the one district hardest hit in the nation. Now the key issue that affects people most is the job issue. This would be highly detrimental.

“Overall we need to look at every energy use,” Moll continued. “Other options are nuclear energy. Wind and solar energy are good, but on a limited scale. We need to use all our resources, especially our own, and not jeopardize them.”
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