The fight over global climate change is headed your way. And whether you know it or not, your money is riding on the outcome.
For years, members of Congress in Washington, D.C., have been talking about limiting the greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming. Now theyï¿½re ready to act.
Electric co-op experts predict that a pair of proposals will square off against each other this year. Although they donï¿½t expect either plan to become law until next year, they say now is the time to choose a side.
Youï¿½re not going to like either proposal. But legislative specialists say Congress and the White House have already decided to do something to reduce greenhouse gases. That means if you want to influence the outcome, youï¿½d better be for one of the competing plans.
The leading proposal is called ï¿½cap and trade.ï¿½ That involves setting limits, or ï¿½capping,ï¿½ the level of greenhouse gas emissions allowed for industries like electric utilities or carmakers. Industries producing less than that limit would get greenhouse gas credits they could trade or sell to industries producing more greenhouse gases.
That kind of system has worked well to reduce air pollution during the past 20 years. But a greenhouse gas cap and trade program would be much more complicated, and its effects uncertain. It would also hit Kentucky especially hard since 90 percent of our stateï¿½s electricity is generated by coal, which has been blamed for much of the greenhouse gas emissions.
Because of those problems with cap and trade, electric co-ops generally tend to lean toward the other climate change proposal, a carbon tax.
I told you that you werenï¿½t going to like either choice.
The carbon tax plan would levy $12 a ton on coal, which could increase electric rates about 20 percent. As bad as that sounds, by supporting a carbon tax, most, but probably not all, electric co-ops hope they could be involved in adding several conditions. Among those modifications would be phasing the tax in over several years, and incentives to ease emission reductions.
Itï¿½s time to pay attention to the news and learn about how these proposals will affect your wallet. Weï¿½ll keep you up-to-date in this magazine, and offer advice on how to register your opinion.