Coleman and carbon dioxide

Arrgghhh. (Again.) This article in the Star Tribune:


Coleman is knee-deep in global-warming fray
His draft proposal would block states and the EPA from regulating emissions of carbon dioxide.
Rob Hotakainen and Brady Averill, Star Tribune Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vowed that California would take the lead in the fight against global-warming when he signed a bill last month aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.
But Sen. Norm Coleman is suggesting that Congress strip California and all other states, along with the federal Environmental Protection Agency, of much of their authority to control carbon dioxide emissions.
Under a draft proposal that has been circulated by the Minnesota Republican, carbon dioxide would not be considered a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.
Coleman found himself in the middle of the fray over global warming when a little-known Washington newsletter, Inside EPA, posted a copy of Coleman’s draft on its website.
“My intention in this draft proposal is to find the quickest path to carbon-dioxide reduction — that means finding a proposal that doesn’t cripple the economy, that is nationally based and that will not be trapped in the courts,” Coleman said in a statement Friday. His office said the senator was unavailable for an interview.
Darrel Ng, a spokesman for Schwarzenegger, said the governor had not seen Coleman’s proposal and had no comment. But he said Schwarzenegger “believes that the science is clear and that global warming is real and he will do what he can under his jurisdiction to fix the problem.”
Under the new law, California must reduce its emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
Coleman called ‘out of step’
Environmental groups signaled their intent to do battle with Coleman.
“If the reports about Coleman’s proposal are true, he seems to be out of step with most Minnesotans on global-warming pollution,” said Kelly Scanlan, state director of the Minnesota Natural Legacy Campaign.
During the past year, Scanlan said, she has seen more proposals come forward regarding greenhouse-gas emissions than ever before. She said that there’s a movement toward a mandatory cap and that she’s optimistic that Congress won’t adopt Coleman’s proposal.
Monique Sullivan, a field organizer with the U.S. Public Interest Group, said “we would hope that our Minnesota delegates would be leading the way to limit greenhouse-gas emissions and to start solving the problem of global warming,” Sullivan said. “This is not that action at all.”
Coleman’s proposal detailed
While Coleman’s proposal would preempt states, it would provide incentives for new nuclear facilities, encourage energy conservation and set up a program of credits where companies are rewarded for permanently reducing their carbon-dioxide emissions. He suggests carbon-dioxide emissions would still be reduced but “in a more straightforward, fairer and less cumbersome manner.” Coleman also has been a backer of alternative fuels such as ethanol.
Inside EPA reported that Coleman has been working on his proposal with electricity industry officials and noted that it would benefit Xcel Energy, which does business in Minnesota and other states.
“At this point, nothing has been carved in stone,” said Xcel Energy spokeswoman Mary Sandok. She said the company is providing advice to Coleman “when requested.”
Putting any caps on carbon-dioxide emissions will only force companies to engage in “end-of-pipe solutions,” which can result in loss of productivity and jobs, said Margo Thorning, senior vice president and chief economist for the American Council for Capital Formation, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., that advocates tax and environmental policies that encourage saving and investment. “You have to charge more if you’re going to switch to higher performance standards,” she said.
In his statement, Coleman said “a strong national policy” is needed to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
“Let me be unequivocally clear, our goal is to strengthen emission standards and any assertion to the contrary is simply false,” he said. “I support mandating a significant reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions. However the first step must be to generate a discussion.”
And Coleman said he’s willing to be flexible in working with environmentalists.
The writers are at rhotakainen @mcclatchydc.com and baverill@mcclatchydc.com.
©2006 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.