WHEELING - U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson plans to vote against a "cap and trade" energy bill that would make producing energy from fossil fuels a costly proposition, spokeswoman Hillary Wicai Viers said Friday.
That bill, also known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, could come up for a vote before the U.S. House of Representatives as early as next week. Viers said Wilson, D-Ohio, believes the legislation will be detrimental to local industries and families.
"Congressman Wilson is currently leaning toward a 'no' vote on the (cap and trade) bill. He's very concerned about increased energy costs for both Ohio's families and for Ohio's energy intensive manufacturers," Viers said. "For example, the steel industry uses a lot of energy to produce steel. A huge hike in energy prices would really hurt an industry that's already suffering."
The act - sponsored by U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass. - calls for a drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. If passed, it also would force industries to buy expensive permits to burn fossil fuel, an expense that energy consumers could see reflected in much higher utility bills.
It is unknown how U.S. Rep. Zack Space, D-Ohio, will vote on the legislation. However, Space, a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce - from which the act originated - voted in favor of the bill in committee during a roll call vote May 21, during which the act was approved by a final vote of 33 to 25.
Space could not be reached for comment.
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said Friday the cap and trade bill should be crafted to protect the economies of states like Ohio and West Virginia that depend on fossil fuels for energy, employment and revenue.
"It must be written in a way that doesn't place an unfair burden on states that rely on fossil fuels," he said.
He noted lawmakers should work to ensure the bill doesn't lead to a transfer of wealth from the Ohio Valley and surrounding states to the West Coast or other regions of the nation.
Strickland declined to comment on how the state's congressional delegation should vote on the measure. Noting the creation of legislation is a process that involves votes to pass a measure on to the next stage of development, he said he did not want to impose his views on the lawmakers. He said the legislators' most important vote will be the one that finally determines whether the bill will become law and said its provisions may change before that vote is cast.
City Editor Jennifer Compston-Strough contributed to this report.