Foster's Daily Democrat: N.H. must end war on energy consumers
A critical factor in a state’s ability to compete for jobs is found in its energy prices. High prices for electricity, heating and transportation add to businesses’ bottom lines and have an importance that can rival high levels of taxation or significant overregulation. If your energy costs are too steep, employers will often look to places where it’s cheaper to do business.
At the same time, consumers also feel the bite of higher energy prices. Many New Hampshire residents simply aren’t seeing their wages increase so dealing with an increased cost of living puts a tremendous strain on many working families’ budgets at a time when many are still trying to recover from the recession and regain their financial footing.
That’s why it has been so disappointing that the New Hampshire House chose to pass three bills in the last few months that will increase energy prices across the state. Individually, each would be a bad policy that would hit our citizens’ wallets and make our state less competitive. Taken together, they represent a broader war on energy consumers that will increase government spending by tens of millions of dollars annually.
While the 67% increase in the gas and diesel tax has generated the greatest publicity, it sadly is only one of the ways that the big government politicians in Concord have in mind to take more from the public and the small businesses of the state by hiking energy prices.
A bill that will soon head to the Senate floor will increase the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) cap-and-trade tax by 30%. This is a tax that is included as a charge in your electric rates and comes as a result of the consistent failure of the RGGI program to raise enough money for “green energy” handouts to special interests across the state. Since the RGGI auctions have failed over the past several years, the program now wants to rig the rules so they can get more money to provide Green Pork subsidies.
The proposed change in the RGGI program will mean the electricity producers will have to pay more money to generate power. These costs will be passed directly along to consumers, who will see higher monthly bills as a result. Ratepayers will be forced to subsidize well-connected private businesses so they can get government to pay for their energy upgrades. Does this make any sense?
As if these two crippling tax increases weren’t enough, the House also passed another energy tax hike, this one to increase the tax on home heating oil by 25%. This could hardly come at a worse time. President Obama has proposed significant reductions to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which provides funds for the poor to be able to purchase oil to warm their homes for the winter, which we know are often harsh in New Hampshire. Adding to this burden with a higher heating oil tax, when there is no indication that oil prices will start dropping anytime soon, could have consequences on many families across the state.
Sadly, the politicians in Concord who have moved these tax increases forward have spent all their time talking about the things that they can do with more of your money. One thing they fail to mention is just how the families of the state will be expected to get by with less. How will working families be able to get by when they suddenly see it become more expensive to fill up their fuel tanks, turn on the lights or heat their homes?
Moreover, for some businesses, these energy tax increases could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and either causes them to leave the state or to close up shop. Beyond those, there are also the companies who won’t even consider coming here if our energy prices continue to increase. Ultimately, this undermines the New Hampshire Advantage and makes us less competitive.
That’s why Americans for Prosperity is working to stop all of these energy tax increases. In order to protect our economic opportunities and create jobs, we can’t afford to become less competitive. In order to protect our citizens’ wallets, we need to block these efforts to grow government at our expense.
All Granite Staters should make clear to their legislators that the war on energy consumers needs to end right now.