A Reuters story says some environmental groups are going after a climate bill meant to clear the air will do no favors for consumers. The piece of legislation, which is expected to come to a vote within a couple months, is geared to slash greenhouse emissions by nearly a fifth of 2005 levels by 2020.
The problem, the groups say, lie with a provision that let local utilities sell pollution permits. The assumption of the bill writers is that the utility companies will use the extra money to lower rates, but the concern is the companies will spend the money on hookers and candy canes.
But giving the credits away to companies presents problems because the firms would be regulated by state public utility commissions that in the past have faced charges that they were influenced by the companies, environmentalists said.
“Can we trust local utility companies to manage billions of dollars in value in a responsible manner that benefits consumers and reduces global warming pollution?” Frank O’Donnell, president of Washington based nonprofit Clean Air Watch, said in a white paper released on Wednesday. “Those commissions are political bodies.”
The bill says the funds should be used for the benefit of ratepayers. But the bill’s language is vague and power companies, which often have power distribution wings, could decide that building a new fossil fuel-powered plant would help lower bills, O’Donnell said.
Such silly talk. How can anyone doubt utility monopolies will treat their customers right?
Holes seen in U.S. climate bill’s consumer shields [Reuters]
(Photo: Great Beyond)