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Congressman critical of energy bill
Deal says new plan could hurt industry in Georgia
Charles Pugh listens as U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal speaks at a Rotary Club meeting Tuesday. - photo by Jennifer Sami
U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal fears Georgia could lose some of its advantage in attracting businesses as a result of the proposed federal New Energy for America bill.

The Gainesville Republican, whose 9th District includes much of Forsyth County, focused on the energy bill and health care during an address Tuesday to the Lanier-Forsyth Rotary Club.

It was also Deal’s first local appearance since he announced he’s running for governor in 2010.

Businesses, Deal said, are attracted to Georgia primarily because it is a non-union state with low utility rates. But those rates could be in jeopardy with the proposed energy plan.

Among the possible changes, the bill seeks to lower carbon dioxide emission standards and require a percentage of energy to come from renewable alternatives. The result, Deal said, could be disastrous for businesses.

“There are all sorts of statistics ... but every one of them, no matter what their perspective is, concludes that it’s going to have a significant cost factor attached to it, and it will be associated with further job losses,” he said.

The cost for utility companies to meet possible standards could lead to bankruptcy or increased consumer rates, he said.

Deal pointed to Spain, which he said “decided that it was going to be the poster child for what a green country would look like.”

The country created a green energy system, which he said a university professor from Spain described as “a green bubble” that could not be sustained.

“Spain’s unemployment rate is 17.5 percent,” Deal said. “They have now determined as they looked back over their experience, that for every green job they created, they lost 2.5 other jobs.”

Deal pitched nuclear energy as a simple solution to reducing carbon emissions. While he said the technology emits no carbon, “because of other philosophical disagreements with that source of energy, it is not allowed as a part of your renewable energy portfolio.”

After the meeting at Northside Hospital-Forsyth, Rotarian James McCoy said his experience is that green jobs are sustainable on a small business level.

While large energy providers could face some difficulties from restrictions, McCoy said Forsyth County’s businesses have “a great deal of opportunities in the green job market.”

McCoy, who is president of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, said “green companies are working and are creating products and offering services that truly ... answer a current need in a way that is more environmentally friendly than we are doing it today.”

“More and more companies are finding out that while it is more expensive at the outset to invest in a green building, that the long-run benefit is much greater,” he said.

President Barack Obama has said the energy plan, which likely won’t come up for a vote in Congress until 2010, would create 5 million new jobs and ultimately lead to an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Deal disagrees.

“Europe has tried this and unfortunately, in spite of good intentions, it has become one of the most fraught with fraud undertakings of a major government,” he said.

Deal also touched on the president’s health care plan, which he said would be a public plan in direct competition with private plans, but with fewer restrictions.

“You can very well tell that it won’t take long for the public plan to be the one that is going to put ... private plans out of business,” he said.
“Eventually, people will migrate from those private plans to this public option.”

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