Enid News and Eagle: Lucas: Legislation in Congress Will Hurt Local, American Economy

Aug 28, 2009
In The News

U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas said Friday so-called “cap and trade” legislation being debated in Congress will hurt American companies and farmers.

Following a tour of Koch Nitrogen’s Enid plant, Lucas, R-Okla., addressed the issue and talked with area business leaders about their concerns for the proposed climate change legislation being pushed by Democratic leaders.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act, House Resolution 2454, also known as the Waxman-Markey Bill, proposes limiting emissions of producers and allowing producers to sell remaining emission permits.

Lucas said the cap and trade legislation would in-crease the costs of energy for everyone.

“What this bill does is set a quota system by industry and region for what comes out the exhaust pipe.” Lucas said.

He said increasing energy costs would effect farmers and ranchers, as well as businesses such as Koch Nitrogen. Increased costs make for more expensive products and would make American companies less competitive in the world market, the congressman said.

“In places like China, they’re using coal to make nitrogen right now,” Lucas said.

Lucas said the legislation was a “baseball bat” being used to beat producers into using cleaner forms of energy and reducing pollution. He said instead, a “stick and carrot approach” should be used to enact more environmentally sound changes.

“I’m a farmer by trade. Farmers and ranchers are the first environmentalists. I want the cleanest forms of energy possible,” he said. “Cap and trade is a 12-ton baseball bat, and we need to be using 20 tons of carrots instead.”

Lucas said people are concerned about the repercussions the bill will have if passed. He said he saw 10 times as many people at his town hall meetings this year than what attended last year.

“The citizenry is very concerned about where the federal government is going,” he said.

The legislation has passed the U.S. House and is being considered in the Senate.

Enid business leaders and agriculture experts agreed with Lucas’s outlook on the negative impact the bill would have in the area and on agriculture.

“We know unquestionably it’s going to affect the fertilizer industry,” said Jon Blank-enship, president and chief executive officer of Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce. “If it’s bad for agriculture and food, it’s bad for Enid, northwest Oklahoma and the na-tion.”

Brent Kisling, executive director of Enid/Garfield County Development Alli-ance, said part of his job was to bring new jobs to Enid, and the competition he has isn’t coming from within the state or the region.

“I’ve got competition in Brazil, Germany and Mexico,” he said. “A bill such as this puts us at a negative advantage in competition.”

Lucas said those concerned should urge friends and family across the nation to speak with their leaders about concerns with the bill.

“If people don’t step up, we may cross some bridges economically we may not be able to go back over again,” he said. “We need to expand in a positive way the sources of clean energy.

“We need to use the carrot and not the stick.”

Koch Nitrogen’s Enid facility is one of four such plants in the country. The others are located in Beatrice, Neb.; Dodge City, Kan.; and Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Natural gas is converted to ammonia by means of chemical conversion processes. Ammonia is marketed and upgraded through other chemical conversion processes to urea ammonium nitrate and urea granules. Each of these products are nitrogen-based fertilizers.

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