Our state enjoys a rich environmental heritage with the tourism industry serving as a cornerstone of our economy — contributing $318 million in federal, state and local revenue while supporting over 24,385 seasonal and full-time jobs. From our state's pristine ski resorts to White Mountain National Forest to our beautiful coastline, we are known for our natural beauty and the industries which support and strengthen it.
Like you, I understand the importance of preserving our lands and water resources to provide our state with a steady source of good-paying jobs and local revenue. In fact, last month I joined my House colleagues in sending a bipartisan letter to the Appropriations Committee urging them to secure funding for the Land Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The LWCF supports public land conservation and ensures access to outdoor recreation opportunities for Granite Staters and tourists.
Similarly, I signed onto a letter urging the Appropriations Committee to invest directly in the New England region's coastal communities by supporting funding for the National Estuary Program, which is instrumental in protecting our coastal environments, sustaining coastal economics and jobs.
Unfortunately, our state is experiencing manufacturing job losses and skyrocketing energy costs due to the heavy hand of government intervention. A safe environment and a healthy economy are not mutually exclusive ends; however, increasing and ever-changing government regulations lead to the suffocation of our manufacturing sector and heavy financial burdens on the middle-class and energy producing plants.
As regulations increase, the cost of doing business also increases. In an effort to remain or become profitable, manufactures have a choice of passing this cost along to its consumers, increasing energy rates, firing workers to reduce payroll costs or shutting down their plans entirely.
All four situations occurred in New Hampshire.
Just this past year, Granite State businesses and families experienced sky-rocketing energy costs which resulted in a loss of business and jobs growth. For example, last November, Liberty Utilities doubled its rates from 7.7 cents per kilowatt hour to 15.4 cents resulting in a monthly average increase from $110 to $162 for the average household's monthly energy bill.
Who can afford this 47 percent cost increase?
Likewise, approximately 500,000 Granite State homes and businesses experienced a 6 percent rate increase for Public Service of New Hampshire in the beginning of January due to a ruling by the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission.
And, just last year, five power plants announced their anticipated closures in the coming years resulting in the loss of more than 3,000 megawatts of energy. These closures come at a heavy price. Not only do we lose a massive amount of energy; but, we also lose the hundreds of jobs that come with it.
These dramatic increases hurts those living on fixed incomes the most, as they are ill equipped to deal with fluctuating prices. With a population that is older than the national average, and with many living paycheck to paycheck — or reliant on Social Security alone — this is deeply troubling to New Hampshire.
In addition to affecting our state's existing businesses, the shock rate associated with increasing electricity rates also deters out-of-state companies from relocating to New Hampshire. This results in missed opportunities for thousands of new jobs, increased competition; and, therefore, reduced energy costs.
Our state needs real results, and we need them now.
New Hampshire is estimated to lose 3,452 manufacturing jobs by 2023. That means almost 3,500 Granite State individuals will be without a stable paycheck to support themselves and their families. We simply cannot afford to continue down this path. You and your family deserve better.
You deserve an all-of-the-above energy approach that responsibly explores and utilizes our own natural resources and supports renewable energy sources. You deserve a more robust infrastructure to strengthen and support new energy projects and jobs. And, you deserve a market free from cap-and-trade policies which picks winners and losers, decreases market competition and therefore, gouges energy costs for Granite State households.
Higher costs for consumers, fewer manufacturing jobs, and more regulations are a death knell for an economy like ours accustomed to leading the New England region out of recessions.
Until we are able to find the happy medium between our regulatory environment and our ability to attract businesses and individuals, we will continue to experience a sluggish economy with less take home pay and little hope for economic expansion.
(Manchester Republican Frank Guinta represents New Hampshire's First Congressional District in Washington, D.C.)
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