U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., is stepping up his longstanding focus on energy — and his opposition to a federal carbon tax that he believes will increase energy and fuel costs for Missourians.
“The carbon tax would have a huge impact on our state,’’ Blunt said in a conference call Wednesday with reporters. “We’re very coal dependent. It would have a devastating impact on our utility bills.”
Blunt noted that Missouri currently is the 6th most coal-dependent state in the country, and cited estimates that people earning less than $30,000 a year already devote one-fifth of their income to cover energy costs.
Blunt is co-sponsoring a procedural amendment that he acknowledged would make it more difficult to get a carbon-tax provision on the energy bill being considered by the U.S. Senate. In fact, blocking the proposed tax is his key aim.
The proposed carbon tax has long been seen by some environmentalists as a way to encourage more energy conservation and discourage harmful energy emissions.
Blunt has contended that while he’s not opposed to encouraging cleaner use of coal, he opposes proposals that he believes would drive up Americans’ energy bills and send more jobs overseas to countries with weaker standards.
Blunt has noted that many countries, including Russia and China, don’t have as strict energy-emission regulations. As a result, he contends that the United States’ efforts to reduce its own energy emissions aren’t worth much globally, if other major energy users don’t seek to reduce theirs.
A carbon tax, aimed at reducing such emissions, “has minimal impact on world-wide carbon, and it has incredible impact on good-paying jobs in Missouri,’’ Blunt asserted.
In any case, he acknowledged that his proposed amendment may have difficulty getting through the Senate, because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has imposed stricter rules on how many amendments can be placed on the energy bill.
Republicans appear to be highlighting their energy differences with Democrats as part of an effort to broaden their political attacks leading up to this fall’s elections, when Republicans believe they have a strong shot of winning enough seats to take control of the Senate next year.
Blunt acknowledged that energy issues are getting a lot of attention lately, but he said that the GOP is still underscoring its objections to the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), and its disagreements with President Barack Obama and Democrats about how best to create private-sector jobs.