Taking preemptive action, the chief of the American Public Gas Association (APGA) on Monday blasted a climate change amendment that U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) may offer as part of pending energy legislation. APGA CEO Bert Kalisch took specific exception with an element of the anticipated amendment that would require pipeline transmission owners to buy emission credits.

“It is our understanding that this amendment would designate pipeline transmission owners as the ‘regulated fuel distributor’ for natural gas,” wrote Kalisch in a letter to U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “This would require transmission owners to purchase emission credits and in turn pass those costs onto the greenhouse gas emitters.”

Kalisch said that this would “have a major impact upon approximately 75 public gas systems which nationwide own over 3,000 miles of natural gas transmission lines. Imposing the requirement that these systems purchase emission credits would place an extreme burden on these systems, many of which are small systems. In fact, some of these systems have as few as two employees.”

APGA “is particularly concerned about these systems being stuck with the costs of any credits that could not be recovered which is a possibility in today’s competitive natural gas markets,” wrote the APGA CEO. “This would place a severe financial hardship on municipalities and would likely result in municipalities and their public gas customers assuming the burden of unrecovered credits.”

Meanwhile, Domenici and Bingaman — floor managers for the Senate energy bill — issued a joint call on Monday afternoon for senators to offer any amendments they might have to the pending comprehensive energy legislation. The Senate is engaged in its second week of debate on the bill with a final vote anticipated at the end of the week.

Assuming the full Senate passes the measure, it will have to be reconciled with comprehensive energy legislation backed by the House of Representatives earlier this year.

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