New York — In addition to raising energy prices, the climate legislation that’s winding through Congress would create a parallel financial system with a carbon-based currency.
The House on Friday narrowly passed landmark legislation meant to curb greenhouse gas emissions and create an energy-efficient economy, voting 219-212. President Barack Obama on Saturday urged senators to follow suit.
Everyone from small farmers to nuclear energy companies would be forced to re-evaluate their place in the new order. Power plants, factories and refineries would feel the first impact if the federal government moves ahead with plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and by about 80 percent near the end of the century.
The sharply debated bill’s fate is unclear in the Senate. A major struggle is expected with 60 votes needed to overcome a certain Republican filibuster.
How much it will affect other industries is still a matter of intense debate, though the primary winners and losers are already emerging.
Solar, wind, geothermal and other renewable energy companies, including nuclear, are some of the obvious winners in a carbon economy. In addition to the billions of federal stimulus dollars they expect to receive, those industries can expect to see a huge boost in investment as utilities and power companies are forced to cut their carbon emissions.
Anyone who pays an electric bill would likely feel the impact of climate legislation. Utilities will try to raise rates as they invest in cleaner-yet-more-expensive energy sources. Some have already announced plans to do so.
For more on the climate bill, see page 7A.