Fourteen key lawmakers say that coal states DO deserve extra allowances, and they have written a formal letter to Senate Democrats urging them to say the same thing.
Led by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), this group of senators signed and sent a letter to Senators Reid, Boxer, Baucus and Kerry asking for the bill to be changed so it would provide additional free carbon permits to states that are heavily reliant on coal energy.
Reuters reports that, “the bill passed by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee would require polluters to get permits for the greenhouse gases they release into the atmosphere.
Initially, industries would receive most of the permits for free, with local electric distribution companies allocated 30 percent of the free permits. The current formula for divying up those permits would probably lead to higher costs for utilities in more sparsely populated areas where coal use is prevalent.”
The climate bill’s current formula for allocating carbon permits is based 50 percent on emissions and 50 percent on sales. This means that coal dependent states, which are also the likely to be the least populated, would not get enough permits to adequately cover their current emissions.
The senators sponsoring the bill feel that this would result in unfair price increases for residents of these states.
“We believe it is essential that we strive to formulate legislation that equitably distributes transition assistance across individuals, as well as states and regions and economic sectors,” the Democratic Senators said in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Reuters).
The letter proposed that instead of taking sales into account, the distribution of free carbon permits should be based solely on emission level, thus prioritizing the coal states and possibly punishing those states that are already doing a good job of controlling their emissions.
Do these senators have a legitimate case? Or is this just another ploy to stall the climate legislation and water down regulations until they are no longer effective?
If letter is successful, and the formula for permits is altered, it may eliminate any sense of urgency that heavy polluters are feeling to make changes now.
Image Credit: SourceWatch.org