In early 2008, before the TEA Party movement began and well before "cap-and-trade" was a recognizable political term, Americans for Prosperity came up with a pledge for politicians. It simply required signers not to vote for any tax increases in response to climate change.
But a worldwide global warming controversy, followed by the U.N. climate change conference in Copenhagen, has spurred Michigan politicians to resurrect the pledge.
Republican U.S. Congressman Fred Upton signed the pledge on Jan. 26, becoming the first federal elected official from Michigan to sign. Seven other GOP candidates for U.S. congressional seats also have signed the pledge, four of them in 2010.
"There is much more interest now," said Scott Hagerstrom, director of the Michigan chapter of Americans for Prosperity.
The pledge originated during the early discussions in the Democrat party of a "cap-and-trade" energy policy. Cap-and-trade is a tax on coal, oil and natural gas, but instead of setting a specific tax rate, the program would cap the total level of energy usage, and companies would be forced to pay the government for emissions permits, according to AFP. The companies bid against each other, and the level of taxation is determined by an auction.
A scandal entered the global warming debate when thousands of e-mails were hacked and released involving the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in England. The e-mails led many to believe that researchers had colluded to combat the arguments of others who doubted global warming, and that the CRU researchers tampered with data that didn't support the global warming argument.
In addition to Upton, other candidates for Michigan U.S. House seats signing the pledge include Justin Amash in the 3rd District; Wayne Kuipers and Jay Riemersma in the 2nd; Rocky Raczkowski and Paul Welday in the 9th; and Brian Rooney and Tim Walberg in the 7th.
"It is my duty and responsibility to assure the people of Michigan's 7th Congressional District that I will not use the possibility of global warming as an excuse to increase taxes," Rooney said in a press release. "... Tax increases like this do not have positive results. They will not only harm the individual, they will harm businesses, farming, and industries in Michigan that have suffered enough."