A senior policy analyst with the Independent Women’s Forum believes cap-and-trade legislation will hurt American families who are already struggling with the economic downturn.

Environmentalists and politicians believe that imposing cap-and-trade will help fight alleged “manmade global warming.” The idea is to limit a company’s carbon dioxide emissions by allotting companies an emissions allowance. If the company is able to keep their emissions under the allowance, then the extra credits can be traded with other companies that are having trouble lowering their emissions.

But skeptics of manmade climate change not only believe cap-and-trade is a waste of time, they believe the system will raise consumer costs as companies will be forced to spend money on “carbon credits.” Amy Watson with the Independent Women’s Forum echoes that concern.

Amy Watson (Independent Women’s Forum)”[I]f their prices go up, they’re not going to eat or lose profit — they’re going to pass it along to the consumer,” says Watson, “[T]his is a really scary thing because this isn’t something that just affects a few of us — it affects everybody.”

Some experts estimate cap-and-trade will cost the average American family between $2,000 and $5,000 per year in added energy expenses. Others say it could be higher. But Watson contends that support for aggressive cap-and-trade measures is beginning to wane as lawmakers fear for their careers. She says many of those lawmakers are from areas hit hard by the recession.

“If you don’t want to see your electricity bills [or] your gas prices skyrocket, then certainly get in touch with your legislators and tell them that you’re very concerned about this legislation,” she urges.

The Washington Times reports that President Obama’s cap-and-trade program could cost industry close to $2 trillion over eight years — nearly three times the White House initial estimate.