As the White House turned its attention Tuesday to climate change, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt spoke out about trying to keep energy costs in check in the wake of new environmental regulations.
The Obama administration released its third U.S. National Climate Assessment on Tuesday, a report that points to longer and hotter summers, rain in heavier downpours, an extended period of wildfire potential and climatic impacts on agriculture, among other things.
But Mr. Blunt made a pitch for an amendment to a Senate bill that would demand a procedural point of order on any measure that allows a tax on carbon emissions.
The Missouri Republican said such a tax would have the most significant impact on lower-income Americans, noting that families making less than $30,000 a year already pay between 15 and 20 percent of their annual take for energy costs.
“Struggling families are the hardest hit by bad energy policies,” Mr. Blunt said. “I’d like to see that debated.”
The latter remark refers to a decision by Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader of the chamber, to limit the amendments that can be offered.
“We’re now reduced to asking for five energy amendments on an energy bill,” the Missourian said. “The Harry Reid gag order is not good for the Senate and it’s not good for the country.”
Mr. Blunt offered the amendment with Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican from coal-rich Pennsylvania. The amendment would be tagged to legislation known as the “Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act.”
The Missouri lawmaker pointed out that his constituents depend on coal for more than 80 percent of their electricity needs. The imposition of a carbon tax, he said, citing a 2013 report from the National Association of Manufacturers, would result in an average 19 percent increase in household electricity rates.
“A carbon tax would lead to significant job losses and force American households to pay more at the pump, more to heat and cool their homes and more for almost every American-made product they buy,” Mr. Blunt said.
But the White House sent out a series of state-specific findings, hoping to localize the problems of climate change. In Missouri, for example, the report said power plants and major factories generated 87 million metric tons of carbon pollution, or the equivalent of about 18 million cars.
Environmental groups endorsed the assessment.
“Missouri’s health and economy will continue to be hit hard by climate disruption, which is why our state should seize the opportunity to be part of the solution,” John Hickey, director of the Missouri chapter of the Sierra Club, said. “There’s no reason Missouri should be lagging in the transition from coal to clean energy.”