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June 09, 2009   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
(334) 613-4212
June 09, 2009

MONTGOMERY, Ala., June 9 - In a letter to Alabama's congressional delegation today, Alabama Farmers Federation President Jerry A. Newby urged lawmakers to oppose a climate change bill that would raise costs for farmers and consumers.

"The American Clean Energy and Security Act would create a financial hardship for many Alabama farmers and would undermine our nation's food security and independence by driving more agricultural production to other countries," Newby said.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee on May 21, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has put it on a fast track for a vote by the full House of Representatives. The measure is referred to as "cap-and-trade" legislation because it would cap greenhouse gas emissions and allow credits for the sequestering of carbon to be traded like a commodity.

Earlier last month, Alabama's seven U.S. representatives sent a joint letter to House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Ranking Member Joe Barton, R-Texas, expressing concerns over the pending legislation. The congressmen stated the requirements that utilities substantially increase their use of renewable energy by 2020 were unfair to Southern states because the bill does not classify hydroelectric and nuclear power as "renewable." This would lead to rate increases for electricity and natural gas.

Farmers would not only feel the impact of higher utility costs, they would also likely pay more for fertilizer, diesel fuel and other production inputs. In addition, the bill would reduce U.S. farmers' competitiveness abroad because other countries would not be subject to the same standards.

At the consumer level, an analysis of a similar bill introduced last year showed it would cost Alabama between 17,000 and 25,900 jobs by 2020. Meanwhile, the bill would reduce the disposable income of each Alabama household by $800 to $2,600 per year.

"Agriculture can play a role in decreasing the United States' dependence on foreign oil through the production of alternative fuels and in protecting the environment through the sequestering of carbon on agriculture and forest lands," Newby said. "This bill, however, will hurt families, drive small companies and farms out of business and stifle economic recovery."

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