Two DFL lawmakers want to shape a pollution trading system designed to cut greenhouse gases, but they're running into obstacles. A key hearing is slated for Tuesday.
The "Green Solutions Act of 2008" from Sen. Ellen Anderson and Rep. Kate Knuth has been getting a cool reception so far. It passed the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee without a recommendation Wednesday after opponents raised worries. No votes have been taken on the House version.
Anderson and Knuth aim to influence Minnesota's policies as Gov. Tim Pawlenty works on a regional cap-and-trade system for carbon dioxide and other emissions. Pawlenty helped establish the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Accord, an effort to develop a system with five other states and Manitoba.
"It's moving forward," said Anderson, DFL-St. Paul. "The only question is, do we want to be part of the discussions?"
The idea of a cap-and-trade system is to set an upper limit on emissions and then issue pollution permits that industries, utilities and other polluters could buy, sell and trade. The cost of the permits creates an incentive to reduce emissions.
Gases such as carbon dioxide from burnt oil, coal and natural gas has been accumulating in the atmosphere for decades and are projected to heat up the planet. A state law requires Minnesota to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent by 2015, 30 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050. Emissions would otherwise rise 25 percent by 2025 if they continued on their current course.
Some opponents object to a provision in the Anderson-Knuth bill that would make the state auction off pollution permits instead of giving them away. They say that could cost billions and hit consumers in the pocketbooks. Others don't like binding Minnesota as a regional system is evolving.
"Our concern with the bill before us is that, as we go into negotiations, it constrains us from negotiating with them to get the best results," said Edward Garvey, deputy commerce commissioner and director of the Office of Energy Security.
Anderson said she wants her legislation to accommodate a broad range of interests. The bill's next stop is the Senate Energy, Utilities, Technology and Communications Committee on Tuesday.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)