Cap-and-trade bill another Washington pork party - Steve Davis

One of the most important issues facing Georgians over the past two years has been energy prices. With my research and legislative efforts on transportation, energy and motor-fuel taxation at the Georgia General Assembly, I have come to the conclusion that the current cap and trade proposals from President Obama, and his henchmen, would only raise prices on everyday Georgians.

The ongoing debate over cap-and-trade legislation in the House Energy and Commerce Committee is just the latest and most appalling attempt by liberals to fund their pet projects and pay back contributors through pork. The bill, authored by California's Henry Waxman and his co-author, Massachusetts' Ed Markey, seeks to halt the spread of global warming by establishing a "cap" on carbon emissions across all sectors of the economy. Emitters can then buy, sell, and trade permits that allow them to emit while remaining underneath this "cap."

What's unfortunate (but unsurprising) is the fact that, in the process of attempting to gather votes for the bill, Chairman Waxman and his allies in the Energy and Commerce Committee have embarked on a pork bonanza, handing out these hugely expensive emissions permits free of charge to a gerrymandered carve-out of political allies, in hopes of buying support for a bill with waning political and public support.

The simple fact of the matter is that the Waxman-Markey bill, as it's written, could not pass committee, much less the full House or Senate without the continued political greasing and favoritism.

Chairman Waxman has taken negotiations over this bill behind closed-doors so that he can work to placate the valid objections of the bill's opponents by simply promising billions of dollars worth of free emissions permits to individuals near and dear to the opposing Democrats' hearts.

These emissions permits are new taxes that will cost billions upon billions of dollars to American industries, driving up the cost of not only energy but also other American goods. Remember, we would be placing this burden unilaterally on our American businesses further increasing the cost of our goods in the global market and, therefore, resulting in untold job loses here in America.

Georgia and the rest of the country have just been through a full economic meltdown. The downturn was spurred, many believe, by wrongdoing and greed on Wall Street. Leading into our economy's plunge, we saw a rash of unaccountable trading in derivatives and speculation for massive profit. A cap-and-trade scheme like the one being debated in the Energy and Commerce Committee would turn the carbon market over to the very same sort of traders and speculators on Wall Street that landed us in this mess in the first place.

Before it's even passed, we are already seeing just how prone the trading system prescribed by Chairman Waxman is to political gaming and tricky maneuvering. We must not make this critical policymaking process just another game. Emissions permits must not be handed out as political favors in closed-door, horse-trading sessions. The implications are too great.

Rather, we need policy (and process) that's accountable, transparent, and predictable. We need a policy that allows business and industry to predict and plan their budgets, and that provides a stable business environment in which to operate and compete globally.

If the closed-door favor-granting that has characterized this bill's progress through committee is any indication of things to come, then the Waxman-Markey bill will be just about as far from accountable, transparent, and predictable as anything we've seen from Washington.

The Waxman-Markey bill, in all of its convoluted and pork-laden glory, is due to come in front of the full Energy and Commerce Committee for a markup within days. I am confident that our Georgia delegation will be able to see this bill for what it is: another Washington scheme weighed down by too much politics and not enough common sense.

Steve Davis, a Republican from McDonough, is a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, from District 109.