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API and Newsweek Event - Climate and Energy Policy: Moving?

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted December 3, 2009

At an event described by one participant as a World Wrestling Federation bout, API's President Jack Gerard discussed proposed climate legislation with members of Congress at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday evening, Dec.1. The discussion, titled "Climate and Energy Policy: Moving?" was jointly sponsored by API and Newsweek.

In addition to Jack, the event featured Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), and Rana Foroohar of Newsweek International, each of whom offered their perspectives on the climate change issue.

Sen. Dorgan said the Senate's bipartisan energy bill passed by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee could help to resolve many of the nation's energy problems without "delivering a trillion-dollar carbon trading securities market to Wall Street." Rather than spending time deliberating over a cap-and trade bill, Dorgan said the Senate should have passed the energy bill first.

Rep. Upton expressed concern over the Waxman-Markey bill passed by the House in June, saying that it would sharply raise electric rates for Midwest consumers. "You look at Indiana, about 95 percent of their electricity comes from coal. Ohio, it's about 90 [percent]....One of my utilities, major utilities in Michigan--Consumers Energy--said that just because of cap-and-trade, our consumers would see energy costs go up by as much as 40 percent by the year 2020. That is a dagger in the heart of [Michigan]."

Rep. Markey defended the Waxman-Markey bill, noting that like the telecommunications legislation passed in the 1990s, it would pave the way for new investments in energy technologies. Markey said the House-passed climate bill is "market-oriented, it is consumer-focused, and it is basically going to unleash, finally, a technology revolution."

Taking exception to Markey's remarks, Jack Gerard listed several points drawn from various studies conducted on the Waxman-Markey bill. He said it could drive up gasoline prices to nearly $5 a gallon, destroy about 2 million jobs, and he disagreed with Markey's claim that the bill is market-oriented.

"We believe it's anything but," Jack said. "In fact, that bill has already picked the winners and the losers. Unfortunately, those who consume fuels in this country like gas, diesel, et cetera, are the clear losers. We're held accountable, responsible for 44 percent of all emissions and given 2 percent of the allowances. Who do you think is going to bear the cost of the bill at the end of the day?"

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.