Boucher Says Bush Open to Coal-Friendly Cap-and-Trade Legislation 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 08 Nov 2007 21:32:00 GMT

From E&E News (subs. req.): Boucher told a business forum that he has been in talks with the Bush’s environmental advisors, including Jim Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, about crafting cap-and-trade legislation Bush would sign.

According to the E&E report, Boucher did not think that having a bill that largely preempted state efforts would be problematic. He went on to say that there need to be more protections for the coal industry, and a minimal cap on emissions for the next twenty years.

Boucher said any measure that forces coal-fired power plants to curb emissions too fast – before carbon capture and sequestration can be widely deployed – would cause major shifts to natural gas and drive up prices.

Boucher said the upcoming climate bill will provide a “somewhat forgiving, a gentle introduction to controls” until carbon capture and storage is ready, which he said would be around 2025. Before that, he said, coal-fired utilities will need other options available to meet obligations, such as purchase of offsets.

“The schedule prior to 2025 has got to be more forgiving,” he told reporters. “The schedule after 2025 can be very rigorous.”

Boucher said Senate proposals would impose major limits too fast. “I don’t think the Senate bills adequately address that need because the control schedule is quite severe in the early years, before we have carbon capture and storage available,” he said. “If they default to natural gas, real harm to the economy occurs.”

CLIMATE: Boucher says White House open to mandatory controls (11/08/2007) Ben Geman, Greenwire senior reporter

A House Democrat writing legislation to require greenhouse gas limits said today that White House officials have privately indicated that President Bush might sign such a bill, despite the administration’s public stance against mandatory controls.

Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) told a business forum that White House officials have not put up a “red light.”

But he outlined several big “ifs.”

“If a bill is presented to the White House that has a bipartisan foundation, if it is industry supported, if it is structured in such a way that it will not cause economic dislocation and that is digestible by the economy, that legislation will be welcomed, it would receive serious consideration and potentially be signed into law,” Boucher said at a climate change forum hosted by the Business Roundtable.

He later told reporters he has been speaking about climate legislation with Bush’s principal climate advisers, including Jim Connaughton, chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality.

CEQ declined to respond directly to Boucher’s comment. “The president has made clear which policies he supports to combat climate change, and he is still waiting on Congress to pass his ‘20 in 10’ legislation,” the agency said in a statement. “We will take a look at all proposals and make our views known as they work their way through the legislative process. We aren’t going to speculate about anything that hasn’t been introduced yet.”

“20 in 10” refers to a White House initiative to curb gasoline use by 20 percent in 10 years through increased use of alternative fuels and greater auto efficiency.

Boucher chairs the Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee. He and Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the full Energy and Commerce Committee, are planning a cap-and-trade system to control carbon dioxide and other gases that are contributing to global warming. Their plan will seek to curb U.S. emissions between 60 percent and 80 percent by 2050.

Boucher, a coal industry ally, has emphasized that his measure would not cause economic harm. State pre-emption at issue

Boucher would not say whether the bill he is writing would “pre-empt” state efforts – such as those in California and among Northeast states – to enact limits on greenhouse gases. But he suggested that the issue could resolve itself to some degree.

He noted that blocs of states had begun their own efforts to control sulfur dioxide when Congress passed the landmark Clean Air Act amendments of 1990 but that these efforts abated when the federal SO2 cap-and-trade plan was established.

“The regional consortia just dropped away, and they really never materialized beyond whatever stage they had assumed at the time we passed the bill,” Boucher said.

“To some extent I think that is going to happen again,” he added. “Once we put a carbon dioxide control in place, a greenhouse gas control in place, that has nationwide application, I really think you are going to see many of the regional blocs say ‘okay, we are satisfied.’” He added, however, that there could be exceptions and California might be one of them.

Boucher’s comments underscore inevitable regional tensions on climate issues. In a nod to lawmakers from the Northeast and California, Senate climate legislation includes a provision that allows states to set stronger rules than the federal government. Concerns with Senate plans

Boucher said any measure that forces coal-fired power plants to curb emissions too fast – before carbon capture and sequestration can be widely deployed – would cause major shifts to natural gas and drive up prices.

Boucher said the upcoming climate bill will provide a “somewhat forgiving, a gentle introduction to controls” until carbon capture and storage is ready, which he said would be around 2025. Before that, he said, coal-fired utilities will need other options available to meet obligations, such as purchase of offsets.

“The schedule prior to 2025 has got to be more forgiving,” he told reporters. “The schedule after 2025 can be very rigorous.”

Boucher said Senate proposals would impose major limits too fast. “I don’t think the Senate bills adequately address that need because the control schedule is quite severe in the early years, before we have carbon capture and storage available,” he said. “If they default to natural gas, real harm to the economy occurs.”

He did not single any specific bills out for criticism. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is currently working on climate legislation sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va.).

A major group of labor unions, the AFL-CIO, is concerned the Lieberman-Warner measure’s targets for 2020 are “overly aggressive” (E&E Daily, Nov. 8).

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  1. Annie Malone Fri, 09 Nov 2007 16:41:57 GMT

    Well, here’s a case where “better late than never” doesn’t work. And it’s our lives at stake, not just “lifestyle”. Boucher. All about the money. I used to love my rep. No more. He doesn’t get it. Rather, what he gets is what industry pays him to get. I never thought he’d play with the future of Humanity for money.

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