Friday, October 05, 2007

California to Boxer: giving away emission credits to polluters would penalize consumers, reward polluters with "windfall profits"

With the new Lieberman-Warner global warming bill introduction on the horizon, California has weighed in with its climate policy recommendations to Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

And California has objected in strong language against the notion of giving away free emission credits to polluters based on past emissions.

“Free distribution based solely on historic emissions will only serve to reward the biggest polluters at the expense of consumers and penalize early leadership,” notes the policy, transmitted yesterday to Boxer’s staff by California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols. “Freely allocating allowances can lead to large windfall profits.”

Clean Air Watch raised similar concerns in recent reports (both available at www.cleanairwatch.org ) which noted the problems with giving away free credits to the biggest polluters and cautioning that the draft Lieberman-Warner bill could lead to windfall profits for the dirtiest companies.

Reports are that there’s been many a meeting behind the scenes since the draft was floated in August – and many of us are watching to see if Lieberman and Warner keep the same polluter-friendly formula when they unveil the official bill, possibly on October 15. (If they make no changes to this aspect of the bill, it would suggest that the big coal-burning companies have a heck of a lot of political clout. We noted their widespread use of campaign contributions in a separate report yesterday.)

Something to look for: how will Boxer react in the face of the recommendations by her own state?

Among its other recommendations, California also called on Boxer to preserve states’ rights on motor vehicle standards and related issues.

“States have led the way in developing climate policy and the Federal Government should preserve the ability for states to innovate and implement new and creative policies into the future.”

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