Wirth: target coal-fired power plants with climate change cap and trade

Former Democratic Colorado Sen. Tim Wirth last week told Bloomberg News the cap-and-trade aspects of the House-approved climate change bill are spread too broadly across the economy instead of focusing on coal-fired power plants.

“I’m not critical of cap-and-trade,” Wirth told Bloomberg. “But it has to be used in a targeted and disciplined way, and what has happened is it’s gotten out of control.”

Wirth, a six-term congressman and one-term senator who now heads up Ted Turner’s U.N. Foundation, got cap-and-trade provisions for emissions passed as part of the Clean Air Act in 1990. He also served in the Clinton State Department as Undersecretary for Global Affairs focusing on climate change and population growth.

He told Bloomberg the climate-change bill needs to scrap the idea of auctioning permits to raise revenues for the federal government and “just focus on the utilities.” To get out of the Senate, he said, the bill needs include more agriculture provisions, a better nuclear power package, a carbon-emissions standard for new utilities and a stronger “natural gas piece.”

More goodies for the cleaner-burning (by about 50 percent versus coal) natural gas industry and a higher renewable electricity standard are two of the things Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall recently told reporters he wants to see in any climate-change bill. Natural gas is also something Gov. Bill Ritter would like to see strengthened in the bill.

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