Weather Forecast


Right time for American Power Act

As Americans, we pride ourselves on our independence. But when it comes to energy, we are still dependent on other countries -- some of which are hostile to our nation and its values. In the weeks ahead, we will be given the opportunity to move toward greater independence, improving our environment, economy and national security in the process.

The American Power Act has given us all that opportunity.

Created by Sens. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., this legislation allows everyone in our country -- business and labor, Democrats and Republicans, young and old -- to work together to transform this nation from energy dependence to inde-pendence, and from an en-ergy importer to exporter.

President Barack Obama has endorsed the proposal, along with several biparti-san organizations across the country. This legislation provides for billions of dollars in consumer refunds and tax credits to offset price hikes, while the nation weans itself from foreign oil and reduces harmful emissions into the atmosphere.

I've read the details of this proposal and clearly understand how this legislation sets an achievable national pollution reduction target, and refunds the money raised right back to American consumers and American businesses. We consumers will come out on top. Initially, the American Power Act will send two-thirds of all revenues not dedicated to reducing our nation's deficit back to consumers through energy discounts and direct rebates. Once the program is fully underway, 100 percent of revenues will be refunded to the American people.

The American Power Act will support investments in technology to harness domestic energy supplies. Currently, the United States spends almost $1 billion every day on foreign oil, much of which is sent to regimes that are hostile to our country. By investing in America's home-grown energy sources -- clean-coal, natural gas, nuclear and renewables -- we will create hundreds of thousands of jobs per year.

This act also includes an approach to reducing emissions that will address the needs of different industries, with separate mechanisms for the three major emitting sectors: power plants, heavy industry and transportation.

The system will be simple, stable and secure. The American Power Act will eliminate the possibility of market manipulation and guarantees a secure, well-functioning system.

With all the jobs that will come with the American Power Act comes a pressing concern for our country's workers: Will everyone working on these projects nationwide receive fair wages?

The Davis-Bacon Act offers an effective, time-tested answer to this concern. For nearly 80 years, the Davis-Bacon law has stood up for fair wages with government-funded construction projects throughout America. This law has guaranteed that government-funded construction projects pay fair wages and hire local and skilled workers, and the public has always benefited from that policy.

Davis-Bacon guidelines need to be included in all aspects of the American Power Act, and I urge the leadership in Congress, and the White House, to join the United Association as we support that initiative.

Not only will this bill make our country more energy-independent, but it will also clean up our energy infrastructure, strengthen national security, and put grateful Americans back to work. The addition of prevailing wage laws will make the American Power Act even stronger and more effective in boosting our economy.

I ask everyone to consider: Can we afford not to pass this bill? Time cannot be squandered and this may be our last call to act. We need to make it happen now. It's not only the right thing to do -- it's the right time to do it.

Bill Hite is general president of the United Association of Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada.