Letter from the Public: Obama Energy Tax Will Kill Economic Growth, Jobs

Last month, President Obama unveiled his plan for a national energy tax. On Thursday, I am introducing legislation that will give senators a chance to tell the American people exactly where they stand on this proposal.

The president's plan would increase energy costs for seniors, small businesses, and low-income families. It also would kill jobs across the country. The president would do all of this without the consideration of the American people or their representatives in Congress.

Soon after the president made his announcement, energy companies announced they would close three coal-fired power plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Nearly 500 people will lose their jobs because of Washington regulation. Congress must act to stop President Obama's regulatory overkill before it is too late.

Of course, the president has tried to push his massive energy tax before. When he ran for president in 2008, he said that under his plan, electric rates would "necessarily skyrocket." He also said he would ensure that anyone who tried to make energy using traditional sources, instead of his preferred methods, would go bankrupt.

With the strong support of the American people, the Democrat-controlled Congress rejected President Obama's attempts in his first term. So now he's making a power grab to give himself unprecedented new authority.

He has already put in place numerous regulations that have all but outlawed the construction of new power plants burning coal. Under his latest plan, he would add more red tape and more expense for power plants that are already running.

Because of the new cost and bureaucracy, people who get their energy from coal plants will have to pay more to heat their homes and keep the lights on. Some plants, like those in Ohio and Pennsylvania, will simply close their doors.

The president claims he's imposing all of this hardship on American families and our economy in the name of a greater good. He says we need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The president ignores the fact that the U.S. is not the dominant global emitter of CO2.

America's share of global CO2 emissions has already dropped from 24% in 2000 to less than 17% in 2011. In contrast, developing nations are increasing their emissions dramatically. China increased its CO2 emissions by 173% from 1998 to 2011. India's emissions could top China's by 2020.

The drastic steps President Obama wants to take, and the damage they do to our economy, would have little effect on the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. That is, unless the president can convince other countries their economies should stop growing, too.

The chances of that happening are slim. Just days after President Obama announced his plan to restrict energy production in America, the European Union was set to take up a similar issue.

The president's strongest allies in Europe declined to tighten their own emissions. They understood the damage it would do to their economies. The president can't even convince our friends to follow his lead. Recent international events have also made it clear that he's having little success convincing Russia and China of anything.

We should have a conversation about balancing environmental concerns and energy needs in this country. It must be done in a way that allows the American people their say.

No president should be allowed to take such extreme steps on his own, without consulting the people harmed by his choice. That means debating the issue thoroughly in Congress.

We need to make America's energy as clean as we can, as fast as we can, without raising energy prices or hurting the economy. The president's approach reverses any economic growth of the last four years and has little effect on global emissions. Doing it through a naked power grab that ignores the will of the people would be even worse.

President Obama's misguided energy plan must be stopped before it's too late. Democrats in Washington now face an important choice. They can sit back and allow the president to move forward with his new national energy tax — or they can support my bill and make it clear that new red tape would be devastating for American workers and their families.

- John Barrasso, Republican and junior senator from Wyoming.