Oklahoma’s U.S. House delegation unanimously opposed a controversial climate bill that would place the nation’s first limits on pollution linked to global warming.
The bill passed 219-212 on Friday and now goes to the Senate, where Oklahoma’s only Democratic House member, Rep. Dan Boren, predicted it will be defeated, the Tulsa World reported from its Washington bureau.
Boren went against his party’s leadership in voting against the bill. Republican Reps. Mary Fallin, Frank Lucas and Tom Cole all joined Boren in opposition. GOP Rep. John Sullivan, who has taken a temporary leave from Congress, did not vote.
At the White House, President Barack Obama said the bill would create jobs, and added that with its vote, the House had put America on a path toward leading the way toward "creating a 21st century global economy."
But Boren and his Oklahoma colleagues disagreed, saying the bill would damage the state’s agriculture and energy sectors and punish its families.
"This legislation will saddle all Oklahoma families, seniors living on fixed incomes, and small businesses struggle to survive the current downturn with what is essentially a tax on energy usage in all forms, from gasoline to utility bills," Boren said.
"The bill imposes enormous new costs on Oklahoma’s electric companies by forcing them to purchase carbon allowances to be compliant with emission reductions."
The legislation would require the U.S. to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and by about 80 percent by mid-century. U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are rising at about 1 percent a year and are predicted to continue increasing without mandatory limits.
The bill would allow the government to limit heat-trapping pollution from factories, refineries and power plants and issue allowances for polluters. Boren said that would force Oklahomans to pay for extra carbon allowances while other states would receive allowances for free.
Lucas called the bill "the single largest economic threat to our farmers and ranchers in decades." He said the bill would not only cause costs to rise for agricultural producers, but it also would shrink their markets, because foreign competitors would be allowed to undersell them.
Cole said those who live in rural areas who must commute long distances would be disproportionately affected, while Fallin said the bill would devastate Oklahoma’s energy producers by placing restrictions on the production and exploration of oil and natural gas.
# # #