Haler opposes governor’s cap and trade proposal

‘This isn’t cap and trade, this is cap and tax,’ says Haler


Calling it one of the worst ideas he’s seen in his legislative career, Rep. Larry Haler, R-Richland, announced his intentions today to aggressively oppose upcoming cap and trade legislation.

“This isn’t cap and trade, this is cap and tax!” Haler said.  “This will be one of the biggest transfers of wealth in the history of our state.  Businesses will close shop, jobs will be lost, prices for goods and services will go up, and families will be devastated.”

The so-called cap and trade legislation is a proposal put forth by the Western Climate Initiative, which includes seven Western states and four Canadian Provinces.  The idea is to cap the amount of carbon that may be emitted by activities such as energy and oil production, manufacturing jobs, and, by 2015, auto emissions, in order to reach 1990 emission levels by 2020.

Companies will have to purchase “allowances” from the government for the right to emit greenhouse gasses.  If companies don’t have enough allowances to cover their emissions, they will have to pay a fine up to $10,000 per day.

If a company doesn’t use all of its emission allowances, it may sell those credits to other companies who need them.

While that might sound noble and simple on the surface, Haler said the extra costs to businesses that have very limited options to either pay penalties, buy credits from other entities, or reduce production altogether will have a disastrous effect on the state’s economy.

“Why are we so intent on making it more difficult to attract and retain jobs in this state?” Haler said.  “There are so many unknown costs associated with the cap and trade idea, we might as well place a ‘closed for business’ sign at our state’s borders.”

Haler said the proposal also creates opportunity for rampant greed and corruption in the unregulated secondary market that will buy and sell carbon emission credits.

“When you have speculators ‘betting’ on the price of credits – like we’ve seen with oil futures – it creates artificially high prices,” Haler said.  “There’s nothing to prevent an investment firm from buying up excess allowances from businesses in our state and then selling them to California or Oregon.  Washington companies could be put out of business in a heartbeat simply because additional, necessary emissions credits are too expensive or unavailable.

“And who regulates the secondary market?  The state certainly can’t do it,” Haler said.  “This is interstate commerce which falls under the purview of Congress.

“With an unregulated market, we’re talking about the opportunity for fraud, greed and corruption on a massive scale,” Haler continued.  “This has the potential to make Enron look like a walk in the park.”

Because Washington has some of the cleanest power and aggressive conservation policies in place, Haler questioned the need to “fast-track” the cap and trade legislation.

“When you consider that Washington state accounts for only three-tenths of one percent of global greenhouse gasses, you have to wonder why the rush,” Haler said.  “Why are we willing to risk our state’s businesses, jobs and economy when our contribution to greenhouse gasses is negligible?

“This makes no sense to me,” Haler said.  “I will fight against this legislation from day one.”

The governor is expected to propose her cap and trade legislation, dubbed the Climate Action Plan, soon.

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Washington State House Republican Communications