US Senate panel to approve cap & trade bill

04 December 2007 23:36  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--Republican officials conceded on Tuesday that a key Senate committee will approve a climate control bill on Wednesday to impose emissions caps on chemical producers, refiners and a wide range of manufacturers and utilities.


Andrew Wheeler, Republican staff director at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said that Senator Barbara Boxer (Democrat-California), chairwoman of the committee, has enough votes among the Democrat majority to approve S-2191 despite Republican efforts to seek amendments to the bill.


S-2191, the America’s Climate Security Act, would impose limits or caps on US industrial emissions of six greenhouse gases (GHG) and provide or auction emissions permits to individual companies. Those companies whose plants emit less greenhouse gases than permitted could sell remaining emission credits to other firms whose facilities exceed allotted maximums.


The bill imposes emissions limits on three main economic sectors, manufacturing, transportation and electric power generation and also would put caps on emissions by natural gas processing facilities.


Republican members of the committee have proposed about 150 amendments to the climate control bill, Wheeler said, but he indicated that Republican leaders on the committee do not expect the Democrat majority to accept any of them.


Among amendments sought by Republicans, said Wheeler, are changes that would require sharp increases in development of natural gas reserves on US federal onshore and offshore territories if the cap and trade measure were to trigger major additional demand on natgas.


US chemicals manufacturers, who are heavily dependent on natgas as a feedstock, oppose the measure on grounds it will trigger wide-scale fuel switching among electric utilities from coal to gas, driving demand and prices for gas significantly higher.


While the Environment Committee is expected to approve the bill on Wednesday, Wheeler said the measure is not likely to win sufficient support for final action by the full Senate, at least not in its present form.


Full Senate consideration of the climate control bill is not expected until the second quarter next year, he said, after the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Energy Information Administration (EIA) complete requested studies on the likely environmental, economic and energy consequences of the bill’s cap and trade provisions.

By: Joe Kamalick
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