Friday, June 26, 2009

Rep. Michael Burgess on Cap and Trade

I sent an email to Dr. Michael Burgess, R-TX, 26th District, to voice my concerns about cap and trade legislation being considered today in Congress. What follows are excerpted portions of his email response (my emphasis added). What follows that is MY return response.

Dear Mr. Vogel:

Thank you for contacting me regarding current cap and trade energy and climate legislation. It is good to hear your thoughts on this important issue.

I am highly supportive of energy conservation and the advancement of renewable energy. In our own district we have a manufacturer of wind turbine blades and a manufacturer of solar panels. In fact, Texas is the leading producer of wind-powered electricity in the country. Conspicuous in its absence from cap and trade legislation is any increase in electricity generated by nuclear power, which is truly a low-carbon source of energy. While I wholeheartedly support investing in alternative energy, and even transitioning away from complete dependence on carbon-based products, we cannot afford to do this at the expense of our national security and economic wellbeing, and we cannot do it at the continued expense of the taxpayers, who are already shouldering the biggest deficit in American history.

As an alternative, I'm working hard to focus Congressional efforts on improvements in energy efficiency and adaptation to climate change. In May, 2009, Synapse Energy Economics released a report which showed that the emissions reduction targets proposed by the Obama Administration can be met by completely focusing on energy efficiency improvements. History shows that strong and growing economies are the most prepared to adapt to changes in climate. Congress should focus on making energy more affordable and building the necessary infrastructure to sustain the economy through economic and climatic changes.

When the Energy and Commerce Committee officially opened HR 2454 for consideration, I offered several amendments to put safeguards in place. Democrats methodically rejected 56 separate Republican efforts to learn the full cost of the bill, to prevent scams in its trading system, and to establish limits on the costs that would be shouldered by the American taxpayer. Remembering very clearly the impact that speculation had on gasoline and diesel prices last summer, I personally submitted an amendment to prohibit the transfer or receipt of carbon credit derivatives in an attempt to curb manipulation of the carbon credit market created by cap and trade. This amendment was rejected. Among the other amendments proposed (and rejected) were:

An amendment to suspend cap and trade policy should gasoline prices reach $5.00 per gallon

An amendment to suspend cap and trade policy should electricity bills increase 10%, 20%, or 100% (this amendment was offered three times, each time raising the cap)

An amendment requiring utilities to disclose to consumers on their monthly bill the direct cost that cap and trade legislation will add to their utility bills

An amendment to suspend cap and trade policy, should unemployment rise to 15% by direct cause of cap and trade

An amendment to suspend cap and trade legislation if China and India do not participate in similar mandatory greenhouse gas reduction efforts

Cap and trade legislation will continue to be heard by several Committees, including the Energy and Commerce Committee. I am a member of this Committee, and you can be certain that I will keep your comments in mind as we discuss and debate this legislation. Rest assured, I will give this issue a great deal of thought and effort, and I will vote based on factual evidence and thorough reasoning, not partisanship.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. I appreciate having the opportunity to represent you in the U.S. House of Representatives. Please feel free to visit my website ( or contact me with any future concerns.


Michael C. Burgess, M.D.
Member of Congress

My response to Rep. Burgess:

Dr. Burgess,

I appreciate your response but am still concerned about one thing. Although you've put forth good arguments on how to better-craft cap and trade legislation, my issue is this: ANY cap and trade legislation is BAD! This is NOT the approach to take for our energy problems and certainly NOT a direction to take during this economic downturn.

I worry that your efforts to establish "safeguards" within the proposed legislation does not address my primary concern. This effort only serves to lend legitimacy to the entire cap and trade effort and shift focus away from the fact that the entire concept is WRONG!

Please take a fresh look at the motivation behind your current efforts. I cannot support any position you take that takes away from our ability to become energy independent by restraining existing energy production and mandating alternative and uneconomical alternatives. Preserving the employment at wind turbine blade and solar panel manufacturing sites within the district will not offset employment losses at other manufacturing locations that will result from this legislation. After all, your suggestions seem to have been met with complete resistance by the Democratic leadership, so why bother with nuance?

Finally, I wish to assert that my concerns are not partisan in nature. I stand against the impact that this legislation will have on all Americans, whether they be Democrat or otherwise. It is truly unfortunate that the Democrats have made this a partisan issue. That, in itself, is a travesty.

Let's hope he gets the message. In all fairness to Dr. Burgess, he is a solid "NO" on Cap and Trade legislation being voted on in the House today. But where will he be afterwards? HERE is a target list of fence-sitters.

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