New coalition moves to block US climate bill

18 August 2009 00:04  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--Energy producers, refiners and petrochemical trade groups on Monday joined more than 100 other national and local associations in a new campaign to block the US House-passed climate bill.

Under a coalition called Energy Citizens, the campaign will launch public rallies in as many as 19 cities across the country during the next three weeks in an effort to raise public and Senate opposition to the House climate bill.

The American Petroleum Institute (API), the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) are among two dozen national trade groups involved, joined by more than 80 regional or state associations.

API spokeswoman Cathy Landry said that the organizations involved in Energy Citizens and the rallies “are aligned on the idea that the nation needs to have affordable energy and concerns about the loss of American jobs”.

“These groups and associations are not opposed to climate legislation in general, but they are opposed to the Waxman-Markey bill as it now stands,” Landry said.

Landry was referring to HR-2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES Act), which was approved by the US House on 27 June in a party-line vote.

The 1,200-page measure also is known as the Waxman-Markey bill for its two principal authors, Democrat representatives Henry Waxman of California and Edward Markey of Massachusetts.

As passed by the House, the ACES Act would cap US industrial and transportation emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases (GHG) and mandate annual reductions to 83% below 2005 levels by 2050. 

The bill also provides for the auction or distribution of emissions permits that industrial facilities could purchase and trade to cover excess amounts of GHG production they generate beyond the level of a baseline year assigned to each industrial sector.

The legislation has long been opposed by most chemical companies and a broad array of other manufacturers and businesses who argue that the bill would impose a huge cost burden on the US economy without having any measureable impact on earth’s atmosphere or global warming.

Many in the US chemicals industry oppose the bill because it is expected to trigger a wide-scale shift among the nation’s electric utilities from coal to natural gas for power generation.  Such a major fuel change is expected to drive up the cost of natural gas, a principal feedstock for the petrochemical industry and downstream chemical makers.

“These groups don’t want a climate bill that will raise US energy costs, especially the cost of transportation fuels, to the point where it threatens the American economy and American jobs,” Landry said.

She said the rallies to be held in 19 cities over the next three weeks are designed to raise public comment to members of the US Senate during the congressional recess, which ends on 7 September.

The Senate has taken up the House-passed bill as its starting point for deliberation.

“These rallies are being held ahead of the end of the congressional recess in September, and we want to urge the Senate to get it right on climate change,” Landry said.

NPRA spokesman Bill Holbrook said his association has encouraged member companies and their employees to take part in the rallies.

“Employees of our member companies want their opinions known and they deserve that opportunity,” Holbrook said of the planned rallies.

In addition to the energy and petrochemical trade groups, the Energy Citizens coalition includes such major organizations as the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Trucking Associations and the National Taxpayers Union, among others.

Also involved are numerous local chambers of commerce and state associations representing agribusiness, senior citizens, building contractors, retail trade groups and ocean and solar resources interests.

Paul Hodges studies key influencers shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy
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By: Joe Kamalick
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