Last month, the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis released a study of the Waxman-Markey energy tax bill showing that by 2035 it would raise electricity rates 90 percent, reduce aggregate gross domestic product (GDP) by $7.4 trillion, and destroy over 1,900,000 jobs. The Natural Resources Defense Council recently responded with a critique of our analysis, claiming we “concealed” the fact that GDP would actually grow under the Waxman-Markey bill.

This is just plain false. Of course the U.S. economy would still grow under Waxman-Markey… it will just grow a lot slower (and produce a lot fewer jobs) than it would have otherwise. The question decision-makers must face when considering any change in policy is: What are we sacrificing when we choose one action over its alternative? In economics, this basic concept is called “opportunity cost.” But the NRDC explicitly urges readers to ignore fundamental economic thinking: “Do not accept a ‘how much less GDP is relative to no policy’ answer.”

That is not even the most galling aspect of their critique. The NRDC then goes on to cite the Environmental Protection Agency’s lower cost estimates as evidence that the CDA’s estimates are too high. But to keep their cost estimates so low, the EPA study assumes a doubling of nuclear power by 2035 … an assumption the NRDC has previously attacked! Apparently, audacity is contagious on the left.

The Waxman-Markey bill is nothing more than an anti-growth bailout for corporations and a huge tax on consumers. Fortunately, there is an alternative. Yesterday, House conservatives unveiled the American Energy Act which unshackles America’s energy producers by allowing energy exploration in Alaska’s North Slope, leasing of oil and natural gas fields in the outer continental shelf, and expediting legal challenges to energy development projects. Most importantly, it makes key policy changes that will revive our domestic nuclear industry, including:

  • Providing an efficient, predictable, and expedited pathway to permitting new reactors;
  • Suspending tariffs on imported reactor components;
  • Providing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) the authority to complete its review of the Yucca Mountain repository;
  • Repealing the artificial limitations on Yucca Mountain’s capacity; and
  • Providing an avenue to start recycling spent nuclear fuel in the U.S.

Unlike the massive new energy tax that President Barack Obama has personally admitted would lead energy prices to skyrocket, creating a regulatory framework that will revive our domestic nuclear industry will create thousands of high paying construction and engineering jobs as well as produce cleaner, cheaper energy for the rest of our economy.

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