Monday, December 14, 2009

Cap-and-Trade: No Wall Street Intermediaries (BAC: GS; JPM; MS)

From Environmental Capital:

Climate Curveball: Senate Bill Taps Negative Mood Toward Wall Street

As if the debate over climate legislation in the Senate weren’t complicated enough, here’s a new twist: Sens. Maria Cantwell (D., Wash.) and Susan Collins (R., Maine) today introduced their own bill to cut emissions – one that’s a lot simpler to explain to voters than proposals that have advanced so far in Congress. It also plays off the anti-Wall Street mood that’s popular among members of both parties these days.

The question is whether the latest bill will be any easier to pass.

Like the other bills, the senators’ proposed “Carbon Limits and Energy for American Renewal Act” would require companies to hold government-issued permits in order to emit greenhouse gases. Over time, the government would issue fewer permits, bringing emissions down.

But unlike those other bills, the Cantwell-Collins measure would give the vast majority of revenues raised under such a system -– 75% — back to consumers each month in the form of checks. In other words, there’d be no free permits for electric utilities, steel makers and other industries that got the bulk of the permits under legislation passed by the House of Representatives in June.

The bill would also seek to curtail the influence of Wall Street traders, by limiting participation in the government auctions of emissions permits to “first sellers” of carbon — essentially coal companies, petroleum refiners and importers....MORE

From The Hill:

Cantwell, Collins shake-up climate debate with alternative bill

Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are floating legislation Friday to curb nationwide greenhouse gas emissions that they’re billing as a simpler alternative to the “cap-and-trade” proposals before lawmakers.

The bill opens a major new front in the Senate climate debate.

Cantwell is among several lawmakers wary of launching a large new carbon emissions trading market, which the bill strongly constrains. Collins, meanwhile, is an important swing vote for advocates of mandatory missions emissions limits.

Their bill comes just a day after three senators – John Kerry (D-Mass.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) – released a “framework” of a compromise climate and energy bill they hope can win 60 votes.

The Cantwell-Collins plan requires a declining limit on the amount of carbon from fossil energy sources in U.S. commerce, and directly refunds 75 percent of the revenues from government auctions of emissions permits to consumers in order to offset higher energy costs.

The emissions limits are applied only to entities that produce or import products like oil and coal for sale in the U.S. economy -- a sharp contrast to the major House and Senate cap-and-trade plans that govern a larger universe of sources, such as power plants and factories....MORE