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Business Group: Balance GHG Goals and Energy

Congress and the Obama administration should support renewable as well as traditional sources of energy as the nation transitions to a low-carbon economy, Business Roundtable, a group of CEOs of U.S. companies, said last Wednesday.

The group released a report, "Unfinished Business: The Missing Elements of a Sustainable Energy and Climate Policy," that cites a need to protect energy security and encourage economic growth while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The group said its report outlines policies yet to be addressed by Congress. "We need to put all energy sources on the table and commit to the development and deployment of advanced energy technologies," said American Electric Power Co. (AEP) CEO Michael G. Morris, who chairs the Roundtable's sustainable growth initiative. "This is essential to forging climate change policy that is sustainable from an environmental, economic and energy security perspective."

During a press briefing Morris noted that his company is a "big supporter" of cap-and-trade and one of the few members of industry trade group Edison Electric Institute that supports the proposed Waxman-Markey legislation on climate change (HR 2454) "the way it is." Roundtable President John J. Castellani said his group had not formally endorsed the Waxman-Markey legislation.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, however, has come out against Waxman-Markey and has recently lost some membership for its stance (see NGI, Oct. 5). Castellani told reporters the Chamber's membership is broader than that of the Roundtable, which is reserved for CEOs of "leading" companies. "The CEOs of Business Roundtable have long recognized the reality of climate change," Castellani said.

AEP owns and operates about 80 generating stations in the United States with a capacity of nearly 38,000 MW, according to the company's website. Coal-fired plants account for 73% of AEP generating capacity, while natural gas represents 16% and nuclear 8%. The remaining 3% comes from wind, hydro, pumped storage and other sources, according to the company.

As a large coal-fired power generator, AEP could benefit greatly under a cap-and-trade scheme that includes the free initial distribution of emissions credits. Such a scenario has been criticized by natural gas interests and others as a handout to the coal industry (see related story).

Morris and Castellani emphasized that a balanced approach to addressing GHG emissions is necessary.

"Any approach that promotes some sources and technologies to the exclusion of others will fail to meet national GHG reduction targets and hamper our return to economic growth," Morris said. "However, by advancing sustainable use of traditional sources and growing use of new low-emitting sources, we can not only reduce the impact of climate change but also preserve long-term economic prosperity for U.S. workers and companies."

According to the "Unfinished Business" report, policymakers must:

The report outlines recommendations for Congress based on the Roundtable's plan for addressing climate change as articulated in its earlier energy report, "More Diverse, More Domestic, More Efficient" and its economic modeling study, "The Balancing Act." That study found that successful policies for reducing GHG emissions must leverage a balanced portfolio of technologies and eliminate barriers to technology development and deployment, the group said.

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