By Beverly Jernigan, Beverly Jernigan PR, Houston

I’ve heard plenty of references to the Cap and Trade efforts now stalled in the Senate as “zombie legislation” – that is per the popular movie genre, not totally dead but not really alive either. However, given the Obama administration’s apparent obsession with regulating all things carbon, I think a better cinematic parallel would be to that of the Terminator. This past fall, opponents thought the Cap and Trade bill might just slowly collapse under its own weight. Then, when “climategate” and other material revelations of dubious climate-related data and methods emerged late last year, the legislation seemed killed off for good. But, just like the noted movie version of Ahh-nold (who fittingly is a major cap and trade proponent), the idea of severely regulating carbon emissions and taxing anything connected to traditional energy got up, dusted itself off and is back, guns blazing.

Specifically, if Cap and Trade legislation is not enacted, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to circumvent Congress and impose new regulations of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, using as justification an April 2007 Supreme Court ruling that carbon dioxide is a pollutant and can be regulated under the Clean Air Act. The EPA has recently stated that it plans to initially regulate power plants and other industrial projects that emit between 75,000 and 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year but will phase in smaller emitters over time. Only targeting “large polluters” may sound reasonable and measured, but in likely foretelling its real intentions, the EPA in July 2008 released its 564-page Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which identified the types of businesses and entities that could potentially be affected by broadening the scope of the Clean Air Act. According to the Heritage Foundation, these rules could ultimately capture schools, farms, restaurants, hospitals, apartment complexes, churches, and anything with a motor—even including lawnmowers, jet skis, and leaf blowers.

Although not totally clear as to what form these EPA-mandated regulations would take, the effect on the U.S. economy will likely be very similar to the disastrous potential costs of the Waxman-Markey Cap and Trade bill that passed the House of Representatives last summer, but worse when factoring in additional administrative costs on business for compliance, higher government costs for enforcement and higher legal costs associated with inevitable litigation.

The Obama administration has routinely touted carbon-limiting legislation as a way to transform America’s economy, create millions of “green” jobs, cure global warming and improve America’s energy security.

Regardless of form, these restrictions and resulting increased costs on our traditional forms of energy will accomplish none of these objectives. Instead, we’ll have increased job losses, increased energy costs (remember President Obama himself stated that under his plan, “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket”), less domestic energy produced and thus less energy independence and finally, no negligible effect on global temperatures. Note that I am completely ignoring here the entire question of “settled” climate science.

Fortunately, there’s a common sense approach to tackling these issues - let private enterprise do the heavy lifting. America’s oil and gas industry is one of the few sectors in which we still lead the world. Imagine the positive effects on our current economic situation if we give our nation’s energy companies the green light to dramatically expand the exploration, development, production and delivery of all forms of our natural resources. Millions of American, well-paying jobs will be created. More energy supplies at home will get us on the road to energy independence and will mean more affordable utility bills for our homes, cheaper prices at the pump and lower input costs for factories and businesses.

A common misnomer is that utilizing America’s natural resources is mutually exclusive with the development of new, cleaner, renewable forms of energy. In fact the opposite is true; traditional energy companies are already leaders in developing alternative energy. According to the American Petroleum Institute, since 2000, 44% of the

$133 billion in total public and private sector investments in low-carbon energy technology has come from the oil and gas sector. More profits from the private energy sector will allow firms to continue to expand alternative energy efforts, which will add “green” jobs that will be sustainable. Finally, government can win here too. More industry profits and sales of new oil and gas leases will mean more taxes for both states and the feds.

Hopefully, common sense will prevail and can stop to the various carbon regulation schemes being discussed today in Washington. If we are successful, we must still stay ever vigilant, because as the cap and traders told us last fall –“I’ll be back”.