Congressman Steve King visited Estherville Friday, first at Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative which found a sympathetic ear from a plea to protect the nation's coal-fired energy plants, and later at the Daily News.
Since the lion's share of energy used by consumers locally comes from coal-fired plants, King said ILEC officials asked if the rest of the country understood the importance of coal in the country's energy mix.
While lawmakers didn't pass cap and trade legislation, King noted supporters of clean-burning coal were those living in states that depended on coal-fired plants. King, for example, supported a coal-fired plant at Marshalltown.
Despite the failure of cap-and-trade legislation, King noted President Obama is trying to institute cap and trade through executive authority.
"I'm concerned about the price of electricity going up," said King, echoing similar sentiments by ILEC officials who have feared that shuttering coal-fired plants would spike energy prices.
The issue on everyone's mind right now - the fiscal cliff - remains as much of a mystery in Washington as anywhere, King said.
"No one knows" if Congress can avoid the fiscal cliff, King said. "The President doesn't know. John Boehner (Republican House Speaker) doesn't know."
King said Obama's counteroffer to the Republicans was more aggressive than his initial one. "He actually moved away from John Boehner's initial offer," said King, while Boehner was actually following Obama to attempt a compromise.
"If we can't get spending cuts, the fiscal cliff is starting to look more attractive," King said.
One fatality could be the estate tax, going from $5M/35 percent to $1M/55 percent on Jan. 1, said King.
"That will wipe out a lot of family businesses and our family farms," said King, who envisioned a nightmare scenario of families having to take a loved one off life support so the person would die before Jan. 1., 2013.
As for the feared fiscal cliff, King said he didn't think Obama feared an across-the-board tax increase.
"I think he's (Obama) happy to see that as long as he doesn't get the blame," King said.
One tax cut that would go away is the payroll tax exemption which King said has created a $212-billion hole in the Social Security trust fund. He also said Obamacare has cut Medicare by $716 billion.
While the wind energy tax credit is set to expire on Jan. 1 - something that has stopped a lot of wind energy developers in their tracks - King noted bipartisan support for the 2.2-cent a kilowatt credit. King thinks wind energy will follow ethanol which stands on its own with the only support the renewal fuels standard.
And King said he agrees with former Presidential candidate Mitt Monney that the country could be energy independent by 2020. To do that, though, King said North America will need the Keystone pipeline. He said the US also has to free up energy production on public lands.