Climate bill aids authors’ states

by Edward Felker
Washington Times
Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A little noticed Environmental Protection Agency analysis shows that the pending climate-change bill in Congress would particularly benefit the states represented by its primary authors.

The analysis, obtained by The Washington Times, shows that the states that would benefit most from the climate legislation that passed the House in June include California and Massachusetts. The bill was co-authored by Rep. Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat, and Rep. Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts Democrat.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Waxman, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the EPA’s analysis is preliminary and “has significant limitations” that fail to account for emissions from plants outside California that provide electricity to the state.

An aide to Mr. Markey said the bill was written to ensure “regulatory certainty,” and was based on the input of electric utility sector “to best serve the entire industry across regional lines.”

Critics see the analysis as another reason to go slow on legislation that would reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by establishing a new system of trading emission allowances called cap-and-trade.

The EPA analysis was included in the agency’s response to inquiries by Sen. Russ Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, about the House bill.

“I have heard concerns from my constituents about how the climate-change bill could unfairly impact Wisconsin,” Mr. Feingold said in a statement. “The data from the EPA was requested as part of my effort to learn as much as possible about the bill and ways to improve it.”

House lawmakers from Midwest and Plains states initially withheld support for the House bill because of worries that rural cooperatives and public utilities that rely on coal-fired power plants would get the least assistance, while the most help would go to large utilities with nuclear and renewable sources.

The EPA estimates provided to Mr. Feingold showed that utilities in coastal states would get the most free allowances handed out to comply with the House bill. California and New York would, under the House bill, be in line to get more than they needed, the EPA estimated. Massachusetts would get nearly all it needs.

The losers under the House-backed bill would be those states whose senators are leery of backing a similar bill by Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, and Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, based on fears that the bill will mean higher electricity prices to their constituents.

States like Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Missouri, the Dakotas, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana get at best just 75 percent of the allowances they would need. The House bill would give allowances to utilities, factories, refiners and others to help them offset energy price increases expected under the law and to pay for renewable energy development.

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