WASHINGTON — As President Barack Obama and House Democratic leaders worked furiously to round up votes for a far-reaching global warming bill, Oklahoma lawmakers said Thursday they were adamantly opposed to the legislation.
"Frankly, since I’ve been in Congress, this is one of the worse pieces of legislation I’ve ever seen,” said Rep. Dan Boren, D-Muskogee.
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, said the bill would have a "minimal effect” on global climate change but a huge impact on consumers and manufacturers. Cole called it a carbon tax that would cost American jobs.
"Big mistake, bad bill,” he said.
But Obama sought to counter the arguments that higher costs for fossil fuels would kill the American economy, saying the transformation to new energy sources would create jobs.
"This legislation will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy,” Obama said. "That will lead to the creation of new businesses and entire new industries. And that will lead to American jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced.”
The House vote is expected to be close, and it wasn’t certain House Democratic leaders would bring the bill up today if they were short of the necessary votes.
The centerpiece of the bill is the mandated cap on the emission of carbon and the cap-and-trade system that will enforce the limits. Pollution credits will be bought and sold by utilities, refineries and others in a market-based system that will drive up the cost of energy created from fossil fuels.
The bill’s prospects seemed iffy at best until the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office issued a report last week saying the average consumer would pay only $175 more a year in 2020. Opponents had claimed the bill’s cost would top $3,000 a year for the average consumer.
Rep. Mary Fallin, R-Oklahoma City, said Thursday the bill was "particularly unfair to Oklahoma.”
"Our state is a large producer of both oil and natural gas, and the restrictions this legislation places on the production and exploration of these resources will devastate our energy producers,” Fallin said.
The oil and gas industry has been lobbying hard against the bill, and agriculture groups also are opposed.
Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne, the top Republican on the House Agriculture Committee, said Thursday that the bill "remains the single, largest economic threat to farmers and rural Americans in decades.”
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