US Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) and US Rep. Mike Pence (R-Indiana) hosted what was billed as an "energy summit" at the Ohio State University's 4-H Center on Sept 2, 2009. Joining the panel of Republican lawmakers opposed to Waxman-Markey, the climate bill which the House passed in June, was Christopher C. Horner, author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming (and Environmentalism). Though a press release described event as a "town-hall meeting", perhaps a mistake from one of the lawmakers offices, the panel took no questions from the sparse audience.

House Minority Leader Boehner said "the president said that with cap and trade, only the polluters are going to pay. But who are those polluters? One of them is AK Steel. Under the proposal, AK Steel would be out of business, because their competitors in India and China will be able to produce steel at a much cheaper rate."

He said "then I think about farmers in my district. Their inputs would rise markedly--farming is a very energy-intensive industry. As a result, the cost to produce the food and fiber we need in this country would be increased. Cap and trade will crush any business that depends on coal."

Boehner said residential and business consumers will pay much more for energy but that"the bigger threat is the millions of jobs that will be lost." But when this idea was put via email to Amanda Moore of Environment Ohio she countered by saying "Ohio households will save, on average, $183 per year on their energy bills by 2020 and $469 per year by 2030."

Deb Steele, a Greenpeace field organizer in Columbus, Ohio said Greenpeace is trying to play a constructive role as it pertains to Climate legislation, even though the organization did not support passage of the Waxman-Markey Bill when it was in the House.

Steele said in an email sent on Sept 8, "what is clear is Rep. Boehner's dependence on dirty energy as a top campaign contributor. To date he has taken over $700,000.00 in contributions."

Steele also said "the biggest threat to workers and this country is a continued dependence on fossil fuels. We can have two or three times the number of jobs when we are building green industries such as wind turbines or solar panels for example, at half the cost of things like unproven coal technologies or nuclear power."

At the Sept 2, 2009 event at OSU, Boehner and just about all of the other members of the panel advocated the all-of-the-above approach to energy security. Boehner said additional oil and natural gas can be produced domestically and "in an environmentally friendly way."

Steele of Greenpeace said "there is nothing environmentally friendly about oil. By burning coal and oil we are changing our climate in fundamental ways. It is no surprise that members of Congress who are close with the dirty polluters continue to fight any meaningful action towards addressing climate change or ending our dependence on fossil fuels.

Steele also referred the Columbus Free Press and its readers to, saying that the data base there indicates that the Republican lawmakers who participated in this "energy summit" as it was called in press releases received in their entire political careers a combined total of $628,150 from oil and gas industries, $782,186 from electric utilities, $132,000 from the coal mining industry.

In additional to Boehner, those present at the energy summit were US Representatives Mike Pence (R-IN), Pat Tiberi (R-OH) Robert Latta (R-OH), John Boehner (R-OH) Jean Schmidt (R-OH) and Steve Austria (R-OH).

During the Sept 2 public meeting at OSU, Boehner said, "nuclear energy -- probably the cleanest form of energy -- is an integral part" of the process of addressing energy security, adding that the American Energy Act, (which Republicans present as an alternative to the Waxman-Markey Bill), will do more to promote renewable energy than the bill which is now headed for the Senate.

A couple of weeks after the Sept 2 event at OSU, Moore of Environment Ohio responded to this idea by writing an email message: "Nuclear energy is extremely unsafe. Just consider the Davis-Besse nuclear plant along the shore of Lake Erie. In 2002, acid ate through almost 6.5 inches of steel before the leak was discovered. It's also extremely expensive. Another Ohio nuclear plant, the Perry plant near Cleveland, cost $6 billion when it was built in the 1980s. A new nuclear plant today would cost $10-15 billion dollars."

U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) told fellow members of the panel at the Sept 2 event at OSU, along with the 50 or so people in the audience, that he represents the "largest manufacturing district in Ohio and the largest agricultural district in Ohio" and that his constituents tell him that "we have to have an energy policy that we can compete with."

Like Rep. Boehner, Rep. Latta advocated an all-of-the-above approach to energy security, which seemed to be one of the catch phrases members of the panel used. The meeting tended to focus more on energy security and less on addressing Climate Change or any other environmental concern such as water security or biodiversity.

Moore of Environment Ohio said that those concerns are not mutually exclusive. She said in an email on Sept 13 : "Addressing climate change is drastically important if we are to protect our national security. Instead of sending billions of dollars overseas every year to purchase oil, paradoxically funding both sides of the war on terror, we could produce our energy here at home.

"Instead of allowing our planet's climate to destabilize and put billions of people in danger, we could prevent these changes in the first place. Simply continuing today's way of life will be extremely expensive. Corn and wheat crops will have lower yields here in Ohio. Additionally, the size of Lake Erie will shrink, causing increased dredging and increased shipping costs by over $1 billion."

At the Sept 2 event at Ohio State Latta said, "if we can't have energy to produce at the right cost, someone else is going to eat our lunch." He said the Waxman-Markey Bill, if it passes the Senate, will make it "difficult for American companies to compete with manufacturers in India and China." Latta said "We want a clean environment, but it's not going to happen with this bill."

While praising a program he referred to as "A Million New Scientists-A million new ideas," U.S. Rep Patrick J. Tiberi (R-Ohio) said "less dependency on foreign energy will require a new generation of scientists."

But Moore said in email sent on Sept. 13 "we have the technology today to create 100% of our energy here in the United States. This is technology created by today's scientists. There are over 440 businesses involved in the clean energy industry in Ohio alone that utilize this technology and stand to benefit from investing in them instead of continuing our reliance on fossil fuels."

Tiberi said he agrees with the stated goals of the Waxman-Markey Bill but that "there is a better way and it's the bill that Leader Boehner introduced." He was referring to the American Energy Act which House Republicans introduced as an alternative to the Waxman-Markey Bill, which is also known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

Referring to the Waxman-Markey Bill, Tiberi said "the bill that passed the House will create higher prices for energy consumers. It's not fair. It can't happen in America. People on fixed incomes will see their electricity and gas bills go up. This would be devastating for Ohio."

U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) said "I understand what this bill will do in my district." Schmidt said her district, which is in the Cincinnati area and borders the edge of Appalachia, includes some of the wealthiest and some of the poorest people in Ohio.

"This bill will negatively impact everyone," Schmidt said while also saying she supports an "all-of-the-above" approach to energy security. Like Boehner and Tiberi, she said she and her colleagues all support having a "clean environment" but that the Waxman-Markey Bill is the wrong approach.

The term "Climate Change" or "Global Warming" was used once or twice during the 2 and 1/2 hour meeting. Other resource concerns such as those pertaining to water quality or water security or biodiversity were not expressed. "Clean environment" was the term of choice.

Like Boehner, Schmidt referred to Waxman-Markey as a cap-and-trade bill that will hurt farmers, given that farming is petroleum-intensive. "In Ohio, agriculture is the number one industry, with manufacturing right on its heels." She said the bill is bad for not only for Ohioans but for Americans in general.

"So when you look at the bill, what's it going to do for Americans when they go to the grocery store to buy bread, meat or eggs? What about the people who are barely hanging on financially? What about manufacturing? One of the things we have to look at are: what are the costs of this bill?"

Moore of Environment Ohio responded to that question. In an email she sent on Sept 13 she said "the benefits of this bill outweigh any potential costs. The most conservative estimates place this ratio as 9-1 in favor of the bill's benefits, such as using our energy more efficiently (with less waste), creating almost 2 million new jobs (when combined with the economic stimulus package) and reducing devastating greenhouse gas emissions."

Like the other Republican lawmakers at the Sept 2 public meeting, U.S. Rep. Stephen Austria (R-Ohio) said when he visits constituents in his district they tell him they are concerned the Waxman-Markey bill will make companies in Ohio less competitive.

"What's that going to lead to in job losses? Both agriculture and manufacturing will be negatively affected, making this current unemployment problem worse." Austria said the bill will hurt Ohioans because nearly 90 percent of Ohio's energy comes from burning coal.

"This will affect every household and every small business across the state. That cost will be passed on to consumers." Austria said everyone uses carbon and that increasing the cost of energy during difficult economic times makes no sense. "We all want clean air, a clean environment. We all want to move toward renewable energy. But this bill is not the way to do it."

Harry Alford of the National Black Chamber of Commerce said "it's imperative that the U.S. have an effective energy policy. It must enable the U.S. to be self-sufficient in its energy supplies."

He said having a sense of responsibility for future generations requires people to address the issue of energy security, invoking an obligation toward posterity reminiscent, perhaps ironically, of similar calls for inter-generational responsibility often heard from Climate Change activists and other environmentalists.

"Brazil is using an all-of-the-above approach. They don't import a drop of oil. They have oil reserves to last 20 years. Our oil reserves will last us 4 months. We're vulnerable," Alford said. In reference to the affect on energy prices he expects the Waxman-Markey Bill to have, he said "we need to deliver energy at an affordable rate."

About Climate Change Alford said "we need to reduce green-house gas emissions and study the issue further," but his emphasis, like that of all of the panel members at this event, was on energy security, not Climate Change or other environmental concerns such as preserving biodiversity or slowing down deforestation.

"This is a matter of survival. In World War II, it was our manufacturing capacity that saved us," Alford said, making the connection between access to affordable energy and our nation's manufacturing capacity.

People with ideas about reconciling the tension between concerns about energy security which seem to dominate Republican approaches, with concerns about Climate Change and other environmental issues which seem to dominate Democratic approaches are welcome to respond.

Though she did not specifically address concerns about industrial access to affordable energy Moore pointed to Climate Change, itself, as being a threat to U.S. national security. She said in an email sent on Sept 13, "numerous admirals and generals have spoken out about the threat that climate change poses to national security. As temperatures warm, droughts increase and storms become more severe, many parts of the planet will become unstable. This could send billions of refugees around the world, overpopulating already densely populated regions, and fostering terrorism."

Ohio Coal Association President Michael Carey said during the Sept 2 public meeting at OSU, "if Waxman-Markey passes, by the year 2030, 80 percent of all coal mining (in Ohio) would stop." Regarding the idea that liberal states such as California and Massachusetts are promoting a national policy which is bad for other regions of the country, such as Ohio, Carey said "I can assure you that in California and Massachusetts, there aren't any coal miners."

Carey said "Obama said in San Francisco 'we'll bankrupt the coal industry.' Biden said 'we're not going to build coal plants in the USA, let them build them in China and India.'"

Jolene Thompson of American Municipal Power was also at the Sept 2 meeting at OSU. She said "in my 81 communities in Ohio that operate their own energy systems, the policies within the bill would have a profound impact. There are significant flaws in Waxman-Markey."

Thompson said studies proponents have presented in support of the legislation involve flawed assumptions and "overly optimistic projections" of clean renewable sources of energy being available as substitutes for fossil fuels.

Moore of Environment Ohio responded by saying in an email on Sept 13 that "First Solar, with a manufacturing plant located in Perrysburg, Ohio, is the world's largest manufacturer of thin-filmed solar panels. They export most of their panels to Germany.

"Germany created a policy to encourage investment in clean energy, and they reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 23% while growing their economy by 30%. We have everything we need to advance the transition to a clean energy economy except the policy. That's why we need to pass the American Clean Energy and Security Act through the Senate."

Christopher Horner, author and senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, was also a member of the panel, which, by the way, took no questions from the 40 or so members of the community who showed up for the event. Early on during the event, Pence had said "this is not a town-hall meeting. This is a field meeting."

Horner called the Waxman-Markey Bill a "financial scandal in the making" and said "I'm with Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace on this." What Horner did not say during this summit was that those environmental groups oppose the bill because they think it gives polluters too much leeway.

They, obviously do not oppose Waxman-Markey because they think, as Horner says in one of his books, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming (and Environmentalism) that environmentalism has little if any merit and is essentially a hidden agenda for promoting on a global scale communism and totalitarianism.

In that book Horner uses the phrase "green on the outside, red to the core" to stand for the hidden communist agenda that environmentalism, according him, conceals. This water-melon theme has been heard recently in the form of Glen Beck's role in bringing down Obama's (unfortunately named) "green jobs czar," Van Jones.

The Columbus Free Press contacted Horner regarding the apparent irony of his siding with two prominent environmental groups. He said in an email on Sept 3, "I noted and affirm that I am with Friends of the Earth on this for saying that cap-and-trade is designed to be a financial scandal in the making, and I'm with Greenpeace on their assertion that the bill would do nothing climatically."

During the event in Columbus, Horner said "cap-and-trade is a rationing scheme that shows zero promise of working. How do we know? Europe imposed this scheme. Europe's emissions went up since Kyoto faster than guess who's ? Ours." Apparently to further discredit cap-and-trade, Horner said Enron chief Ken Lay had championed the concept.

Horner said the Waxman-Markey bill would have :enormous human impact with absolutely zero results: and that "we're increasing our costs unilaterally while the rest of the world is being very clear that they will not do it."

The entirety of the bill sat on the conference table. It was a stack of papers almost a foot high. Pence said "we agree with the goals but we disagree strongly with the ways to get there presented in this legislation. Nuclear energy is not even mentioned in this massive legislation. We believe in the all-of-the-above strategy as our means for ending that cancer-like dependence on foreign oil."

Ohio Farm Bureau President Brent Porteus also opposes the Waxman-Markey Bill but did not go as far as Horner or some of the other members of the panel. At the Sept 2 public meeting at OSU's 4-H center which is housed in a LEEDS certified building, Porteus said "any cap-and-trade must involve some basic principles. The legislation must plug the holes left from the energy sources that are lost. Global issues require a global response. But this bill does not have that. China, India, and other nations are not going along with this. This would make US agriculture and other industries less competitive."

Porteus said Waxman-Markey would involve requirements that will hurt some farmers. As an example, he said "not every dairy farm can have a methane digester...Ohio farmers support a diversified portfolio of energy options - let's not put our farmers and consumers at a disadvantage. Let's not become a food-importing nation."

At one point during the meeting Boehner said "the U.S. is the Saudi Arabia of coal," asking Carey of the Ohio Coal Association, "how can the U.S. use coal in a clean way?"

Carey said coal has become cleaner in terms of non-carbon emissions such as sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide, and that further progress can be made if the coal industry is given the chance to try out innovations for making coal cleaner. But he mocked the idea that carbon dioxide is a pollutant, saying it is something that natural processes, such as those involved with rotting vegetable matter, create.

But Moore said in an email on Sept 13, "the electrical utilities were required to reduce sulfur emissions due to the legislation of a cap and trade program, which actually helped polluters to reduce their emissions before their target dates. The excessive production of carbon dioxide through non-natural processes, such as burning coal to produce electricity, is well-known in the scientific community to be a leading cause of climate change."

At the Sept 2 public event at OSU, Carey said, "we have about 250 years of supply. National security is about all energy sources, whether it's about coal, natural gas or nuclear. We as a country and we as a state cannot conserve of our way to prosperity. Companies in India and China are eyeing our coal, because they think we're not going to be able to use it. The future for coal is very good as long as we have sound judgment in our policies."

Pence said "cap--and--trade is an economic declaration of war on the Midwest by liberals in D.C." He asked Alford of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, "what would a national energy tax mean to small business owners?"

Alford said, "of the 12,000 African-American companies in Ohio, 50 percent would be gone quickly. A cap-and-trade bill will hurt African-American communities... I'll debate anyone on this issue. Maxine Waters and others already know this."

After the conference, Boehner said during a brief Q & A with about a half dozen reporters, "we believe we have a better solution. We have a trust fund to take royalties from oil and gas companies and put the money into renewables."

He said "America alone cannot solve this problem. Punishing Americans and favoring India and China and other developing countries is not in our best interests. I'm not going to punish my constituents."

Boehner and others at this meeting said multiple times that the Waxman-Markey Bill would adversely affect farmers and in turn, adversely affect people's ability to buy food. When asked about the extent to which promoting small-scale local agriculture was at least part of the solution to these concerns, Boehner dismissed the question, saying "this meeting is about energy," despite having said at the start of the meeting, "farming is a very energy-intensive industry."

Horner said he was against trade barriers and subsidies, as if supporting smaller, more local agriculture involved trying to block food imports into the country in a manner similar to efforts to block the importation of steel.



Saw your action alert at the Free Press website. I am a liberal Democrat and strongly opposed to the Waxman/Markey cap and trade. The worst thing about it is that the Supreme Court has ruled that the government has the power to regulate carbon emmissions as pollution. The Waxman bill would take away that right.

Why should we hand off our greatest challenge (atmospheric deterioration, commonly called global warming) to Wall Street to solve? Rather we need government regulation and enforcement of carbon emmissions similar to the Clean Water Act. We also need government investments and policies that incentivize renewable energy.

Rep. Peter DeFazio D-Oregon, spoke to the Portland City Club several months ago regarding his opposition to cap and trade. I think his remarks are very informative: