U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal shared his thoughts on top national issues Thursday at a meeting of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.
Deal, a Republican candidate for governor next year, said one piece of legislation he is particularly concerned about is the cap and trade energy bill, which he says is going in the wrong direction.
"It has serious ramifications for the future of our country," Deal said.
"The problem is this bill is punitive in nature — it mandates and it punishes if you do not achieve goals the technology currently does not allow you to achieve. Therefore, you’re going to pay taxes as a result of that."
The legislation would limit, or cap, greenhouse gas emissions. Those industries emitting beyond their cap would have to trade, or buy, credits from others who emitted less than their allowance.
The ultimate goal is to get businesses to use more alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar power, and relying less on traditional energy sources that emit gases like carbon monoxide into the atmosphere.
Deal said one of the main problems with the bill is that it doesn’t include nuclear energy as an alternative source.
"It’s not in the mix. They give you no credit for it," Deal said. "What we really ought to do is increase nuclear generation in our country."
Deal also opposes the bill because he said similar legislation has been ineffective in European countries such as Spain.
"It is a mechanism that has proven to be a giant basis for fraud and misuse in Europe where they tried to do that," he said. "You’re trading something you can’t see."
Deal also said the proposed health care reform bill may spend more time in
committee before being brought to the floor of Congress.
"Some of (Rep. Henry Waxman’s) Democrat members who voted to get that thing out of committee have heard some very strong opinions from their constituency back home," Deal said.
Deal also responded to the ethics complaint filed against him by a political watchdog group,
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, accusing him of using his political influence to save a state program that benefits his personal business.
"I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight," Deal said. "I want to be the governor of this state and I’m not going to let anybody tarnish my good name, my reputation of public service. In fact, I’m more dedicated than ever to making sure these are the kind of things that need to be straightened out in state government."
Following his speech, the chamber voted to endorse Deal for governor and to formally oppose the cap and trade bill.