Landrieu clarifies position on 'cap and trade'
by Mary Landrieu - posted Wednesday, March 18th, 2009 @ 3:42 pm
I was deeply troubled to read the recent Ouachita Citizen editorial, "Landrieu should remember her constituents" (March 12, 2009). This editorial distorted my record on climate change legislation and ignores my public record on this issue.
I have not voted for the Senate's past attempts to implement a "cap-and-trade" regime, such as the bill written by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn. A "cap-and-trade" system sets a limit on emissions. Industries would receive maximum "emissions allowances" and could design strategies to reduce emissions, including selling or purchasing these allowances, new pollution control or efficiency measures. Most of my Democratic colleagues supported the McCain-Lieberman approach, but I was against forcing petrochemical companies and Louisiana manufacturers to bear the brunt of new costs and did not believe it would cost-effectively address greenhouse emissions.
The McCain-Lieberman legislation would have raised gasoline and natural gas prices to unacceptable levels and placed an unnecessary financial strain on Louisiana families already struggling to make ends meet. The proposal also disproportionately affected industries that employ Louisianians, especially refineries and petrochemical companies. It makes no sense to shut down refineries here at home only to have the Saudis build facilities overseas. In addition to putting thousands of Louisianians out of work, this would make our country even more dependent on foreign oil instead of producing our own crude oil.
However, Louisiana is a low-lying, coastal state on the "front lines" of the potentially negative effects of rising sea levels. Dr. Virginia Burkett, former head of Louisiana's Department of Wildlife & Fisheries and now a chief scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey, spearheaded a study that concluded warming temperatures could have a profound impact on Louisiana. A steady rise in sea temperatures could result in putting key state infrastructure under water. Our roads and ports, for instance, are vulnerable: 27 percent of our major roads and 72 percent of our port infrastructure are built on land that is less than four feet above sea level. Given Louisiana's role in contributing to our nation's domestic energy supply, this is a threat that the state and nation must address.
During the last debate on cap-and-trade legislation, the Senate passed a provision I authored that would have controlled the costs of a climate change bill. I also introduced an amendment that would have leveled the playing field for American companies in the global economy. I will continue to work with my colleagues and the new administration to ensure that Louisiana businesses are not singled out in new versions of this legislation.
My record on cap-and-trade issues demonstrates that I often split with my party because I always fight for Louisiana's interests first. I listen to my constituents and work with Democrats and Republicans to find commonsense solutions that are good for Louisiana. This approach was evident in 2006 when Congress passed a bill that I co-wrote with Energy Committee Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M. It opened new areas in the Gulf of Mexico to offshore oil and gas production, and for the first time, shared the revenues with the energy-producing states, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama and Mississippi.
My record on cap-and-trade legislation is clear. I will not simply rubber stamp climate change proposals because my party and the Obama administration support them. Instead, I will use my seniority and position on the Senate Energy Committee to ensure that Louisiana's interests are fairly represented.
Mary Landrieu (D-New Orleans) is a member of the U.S. Senate.