Wichita Republican members of the Kansas congressional delegation criticized a proposal to cap greenhouse gas emissions, saying Monday that the plan would be devastating to rural Midwestern states that generate most of their electricity from coal-fired plants.
The lawmakers found a supportive audience at the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association convention in their opposition to the suggested “cap-and-trade” limits. U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback assured them the measure had little prospect of passing the Senate.
“There is no more devastating piece of legislation for rural America, for the Midwest, for agriculture, for farmers and for small business than this piece of legislation at a time like this economy — bar none,” said Rep. Jerry Moran,
Earlier this summer, the House passed a bill that would impose the first nationwide limits on greenhouse gases and require electric utilities to produce at least 12 percent of their power from pollution-free sources such as wind and solar energy by 2020.
The House bill would set up a system in which limits would be placed on greenhouse gas emissions and a market would be created where businesses could buy and sell permits to pollute.
Rep. Todd Tiahrt urged the group of oil producers to focus their lobbying efforts against the measure on “red state Democrats” from places like Nebraska, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Louisiana, Arkansas, Colorado and New Mexico, where they do business.
“This cap-and-trade will be hardest felt in the Midwest,” said Rep. Lynn Jenkins.
Moran said electric rates will go up in Midwestern states like Kansas that depend on coal-fired plants because those utilities will have to pay for permission to emit greenhouse gases, as opposed to coastal states that generate electricity by hydroelectric power.
Kansas City Power & Light has projected a 37 percent increase in electric rates by 2013 if the measure passes, Brownback said.
The proposed legislation also will drive small refineries overseas to places like India and China where regulations are less stringent, forcing the United States to import more refined gasoline products, Brownback said.
Brownback, who is widely expected to run for governor, also said he supported the proposal by Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to build a coal-fired plant outside Holcomb in Finney County.