Lincoln: Energy Reform Must Be Fair to Rural America

Washington – In a Senate Finance Committee hearing today on climate change, U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) today expressed her opposition to the House-passed cap-and-trade legislation and said any prospective Senate bill must not place a disproportionate share of the economic burden on families and businesses in rural America.

“In the current economic environment, the average Arkansas family sits down at their kitchen table, where they talk through their worries about retirement plans losing money, college savings accounts losing value, and their neighbors being laid off.  Quite simply, they are scared,” Lincoln said.  “In addition, our businesses are making tough choices about whether to cut benefits, hours, or workers, or close their doors altogether.

“The majority of Arkansans believe efforts need to be made to reverse the detrimental effects of climate change. However, they are apprehensive, and rightly so, about what a massive policy change such as a cap-and-trade plan would mean for them at a time of tremendous economic uncertainty.

“The legislation recently passed by the House of Representatives has done nothing to ease these Arkansans’ apprehensions.  The House’s Waxman-Markey bill picks winners and losers and places a disproportionate share of the economic burden on families and businesses in rural America.  It is a deeply flawed bill.  I will not support similar legislation in the Senate.

“Here in the Senate, and in this committee, we must craft a proposal that works for all of America.  Last year, I joined several of my colleagues in laying out a set of principles that must be addressed before I would consider supporting any climate change legislation.  I stand by those principles today and look forward to working to craft responsible legislation to curb carbon emissions.

“There are many options to deal with the issue of climate change and all should be up for discussion in order to meet our environmental and economic goals. I am very proud of the work already completed in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where we passed bipartisan legislation that will implement a national renewable electricity standard, increase our investments in energy research and technology, and put in place a plan to combat our energy challenges of the future.

“I hope that the Finance Committee will have the opportunity to create companion legislation to the Energy Committee’s bill, which will focus on investments in new renewable technologies and clean-energy technologies that, combined with the Energy Committee’s bill, will lay the foundation of a new national energy policy that will curb carbon output, create new jobs, and reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy.”