Jon Bruning (R)
WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)- Legislation pending in the House that would for the first time limit pollution blamed for warming the planet will in the end cost consumers, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning warned Thursday.
In an interview with Legal Newsline, the Republican attorney general said he has "grave concerns" about Democrat-backed plan, saying it would be tantamount to a steep tax increase on energy.
He and other critics say the bill would lead to higher prices for gasoline, electricity, and other sources of energy because companies would be forced to shift from cheaper fossil fuels or buy pollution allowances.
"The reality of this is we're simply going to tack those costs onto consumers," Bruning said. "We're going to end up paying for yet another Wall Street trade in the marketplace."
Meanwhile, proponents of the bill say costs to consumers will be modest because incentives for energy efficiency and direct relief for low-income households are woven into the plan.
The 1,200-page energy bill would, among other things, create a cap-and-trade system that would restrict greenhouse gas emissions, with tighter limits each year. The goal: To reduce carbon emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and by 80 percent by 2050.
Under the proposal, polluters would be able to buy and sell emission allowances as a way to mitigate the costs of complying with the White House-backed proposal.
"I understand that if we want to cap or reduce emissions over time, it is a good idea," Bruning told Legal Newsline. "But to allow Wall Street to trade futures I think is a bit risky and unnecessary."
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama championed the legislation, calling on congressional lawmakers to approve the plan this week.
"The nation that leads in the creation of a clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the 21st century's global economy," Obama said. "That's what this legislation seeks to achieve. It's a bill that will open the door to a better future for this nation. And that's why I urge members of Congress to come together and pass it."
The cap-and-trade legislation was introduced by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass.
From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at firstname.lastname@example.org.