Options for US Climate Legislation Outlined by House Energy Subcommittee Chairman at Platts Energy Podium



    WASHINGTON, March 11 /CNW/ -- The chairman of the US House Energy and Air
Quality Subcommittee told a Platts Energy Podium event in Washington on
Tuesday that he supports a greenhouse gases (GHG) cap-and-trade system that
would provide nearly all emission credits for free to electric utilities, oil
refineries and other industrial operations.
    Representative Rick Boucher, Democrat-Virginia, said he believes the US
should model its GHG control law on the country's successful acid rain program
that is designed to cut national sulfur dioxide emissions from electric
utilities through a cap-and-trade system.
    The SO2 system gives away 97% of its allowances and auctions off the
remaining 3%, Boucher said. "We can look to the very successful sulfur dioxide
program," he said, calling the acid rain program "fluid" and "transparent".
    "I think the burden of proof rests on those who think we would need to
auction most of the allowances," Boucher said.
    Boucher is seeking to pass economy-wide legislation that would reduce
emissions 60% to 80% below current levels by 2050.
    He put the odds of getting the bill through Congress and passed by
President George W. Bush at more than 50% but estimated a better probability
next year.  "In the next Congress, I think the prospects of passing cap and
trade and having it signed into law will be 80% or better," he said.
    The three presidential candidates all support mandatory emissions
reductions, and Democrats, who are viewed as more supportive of climate change
actions, are considered likely to gain seats in both the House and Senate, he
said.
    The congressman said he would prefer that any GHG cap bill offer modest
cuts in carbon emissions to 2025 with steeper reductions thereafter to allow
coal-fired power generation to remain in the mix and permit the development of
carbon capture and sequestration technologies.
    To do otherwise would mean that natural gas would become the dominant
fuel for power generation, leading to higher prices for the fuel amidst
increasing natural gas demand from other economic sectors, Boucher said. "We
simply have to prevent that from happening," he said, adding it will result in
"deep economic dislocation."
    He also said he is optimistic that permanent carbon storage could work.
"This isn't rocket science at all. It isn't even auto mechanics," he said. "It
will work. They've been storing CO2 in oil and gas fields for decades."
    Sponsored by Platts, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Platts
Energy Podium provides an ongoing forum for prominent newsmakers and the press
to address important energy and environmental issues. Members of the media may
receive complementary registration for Energy Podium events by contacting
Nancy Covey at 202-942-8719, Nancy_Covey@platts.com. A recording of the
Boucher session is available via podcast at www.energypodium.platts.com.
    
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