From: Timothy Gardner, Reuters
Published July 15, 2010 06:35 AM

US Climate bill sparks opposition from business groups

Two U.S. business groups opposed on Wednesday the latest version of a climate change proposal circulating in the U.S. Senate, saying it was unfair to power companies and would hurt energy-intensive industries.

Senators John Kerry, a Democrat, and Joe Lieberman, an independent, have crafted a draft bill focusing on capping greenhouse gas pollution from electric power utilities first. It scales back previous ambitions for a broad attack on emissions.


The plan would launch a "cap-and-trade" market in which utilities that cut pollution could sell credits to companies that do not. It expects overall emissions limits would be achieved because the cap on all utilities toughens over time.

Ten states in the U.S. East have capped emissions from utilities for two years under a plan called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Senator Olympia Snowe from Maine, one of the states in RGGI, has said the program could be seen as a template for a national plan.

But not all utilities are on board.

"We have some real reservations about the utility-only approach and that's hard for us to get past," said Glenn English, the chief executive of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. His group says its members provide power for about 42 million Americans in 47 states with 9,000 rural power cooperatives.

English said the legislation could unfairly saddle regions of the country that use coal with higher electric bills.

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