Dear Senator, what don’t you get about Cap and Tax? |

Dear Senator, what don’t you get about Cap and Tax?

Montana can be a complicated state, but there are some issues that you just can’t not get.

One such issue is the idiotic idea of imposing a national energy tax on carbon designed to destroy domestic jobs and drive up the cost of everything from a gallon of gas to a bucket of fertilizer. This is a bad idea when our economy is thriving, let alone when we’re just starting to pull ourselves out of a recession.

The plan has a lot of names: cap-and-tax, cap-and-trade, carbon tax and emissions tax are just a few of them. No matter what you call it, it’s a bad deal for energy-producing states like Montana.

In fact, when former Speaker Nancy Pelosi forced the House of Representatives to vote on it, not only did our only Congressman Denny Rehberg vote no, but he was joined by every single member from the surrounding states of Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah. That includes both Republicans and Democrats. We are glad he did. An independent economist predicted that if cap-and-tax had passed, it would have cost Montana 8,600 jobs.

Those figures didn’t come out of thin air. In 2006, the State of California self-imposed an energy tax within its borders. Today, California has the second highest unemployment in the country and imports more energy than any other state in the union. This is the model some want to implement nationally.

After public outcry from Montana and across the country, Congress did the right thing and killed the bill. That should have been the end of it; the Constitution delegates the authority to create law to the legislative branch.

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But the Obama Administration returned from an international Global Warming Conference where it had issued lofty promises to curb U.S. production. With an international community to answer to, Mr. Obama turned to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Soon thereafter, the EPA assumed the right to regulate carbon dioxide, without any congressional directive to do so. Carbon dioxide, in addition to being a greenhouse gas, is the stuff humans breathe and plants need to survive. The EPA re-classified it as a “harmful pollutant.” The consequences of this decision will be devastating to Montana’s farmers and ranchers and the Montana Farm Bureau Federation, our state’s largest agricultural organization, told our Congressional delegation so.

In response, Congressman Rehberg immediately introduced legislation to prevent the EPA from so dramatically overstepping its authority. His legislation passed in the House with bipartisan support, 255-172. Montana agriculture should thank Denny for standing up for them. I wish I could say the same for our senators.

Despite the fact that this should be a no-brainer, both Senators Baucus and Tester voted to allow the EPA to move forward with its regulation of carbon dioxide, letting EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson usurp their Senate prerogative by presuming to act without Congressional authority. By failing to rein in the out-of-control EPA bureaucracy, Max Baucus and Jon Tester condoned her presumption and condemned the many small family farms and ranches that make up the largest part of Montana’s economy to significantly increased operating expenses and burdensome permitting requirements at a time when farm input costs are already approaching all-time highs.

And for what? The environmental benefits from EPA regulation are marginal at best. Until an international agreement is reached, unilateral action by EPA will have little or no environmental impact, a fact Ms. Jackson herself has often acknowledged in testimony before Congress.

Max Baucus and Jon Tester claim to understand Montana agriculture’s challenges and promised when elected to stand up for our interests. Their failure to stop EPA’s blatant attack on America’s farmers and ranchers broke that promise.

If Max and Jon aren’t going to stand up for the people who make up our state’s largest industry, then they should stand down.

Jake Cummins

Executive Vice President, Montana Farm Bureau Federation