Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

May 16, 2009

Boucher: Cap and trade deal preserves coal jobs

WASHINGTON — The House Energy and Commerce Committee has reached a tentative agreement on federal legislation that will control greenhouses gases while also preserving coal jobs, according to U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher, Va.

“For about the last six weeks, I’ve been involved in an intensive and continuous negotiation with the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce committee that is Henry Waxman from California,” Boucher said. “We reached a tentative agreement on legislation that will control greenhouse gases. That measure can now be brought before the full Energy and Commerce Committee for passage.”

Boucher said the agreement will be presented to the Energy and Commerce Committee Monday.

“The fact is that we will inevitably have controls on greenhouse gases,” Boucher said. “Refraining from controlling is no longer an option. The Supreme Court ended the debate two years ago when it held that the Environmental Protection Agency must regulate green gas unless the Congress regulates first. Virtually all stakeholders — from the electric utility to the coal industry to environmental groups — would prefer that Congress adopt the regulation. And so I’ve been working extensively to fashion a controlled program that Congress can adopt which will preserve coal jobs, create the opportunity for increasing coal production and keep electricity rates in regions like Southwest Virginia affordable. The compromise that I have reached with Chairman Waxman achieves those goals.”

Boucher said there are several provisions in the tentative agreement.

“First we provide emission allowances under a cap and trade program to electric utilities for free,” Boucher said. “That provision will keep electricity rates affordable in regions where most of the electricity is coal fired, and Southwest Virginia is certainly such a region. Secondly, we provide two billion tons of offset each year during the life of the program. Those offsets would enable electric utilities like AEP (American Electric Power) to invest in forestry, agriculture and projects like tropical rain forest preservation in order to meet their CO2 reduction requirements under legislation. Therefore, they can comply with the law while continuing to burn coal.”

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