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Democratic Infighting Grows Over Climate Legislation

Even as House Democrats started reaching out to Republicans to back a climate change bill, they faced a regional divide between some Midwest and Northwest Caucus members over the allocation of electricity credits.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) has been passing out maps contending that most states would lose out under the cap-and-trade bill crafted by Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.). Other Democrats, including Rep. Tim Walz (Minn.), have been trying to negotiate changes to the bill to diminish the regional disparities.

Walz and Kaptur contend that states in the Northwest — Oregon and Washington — will get far more emissions allowances than they need. Kaptur said the Northwest has benefited from massive federal investment in hydroelectric dams and shouldn’t be rewarded with more federal largesse on top of that.

But don’t tell that to lawmakers from the Northwest.

Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) said that ratepayers in his region invested in various clean energy technologies and should not be penalized for that.

“We were progressive enough to recognize this is the future of energy,— he said. He added that changing the formula in the bill, which grants half of the credits based on existing utility carbon emissions and half based on the amount of electricity sold, would undermine the incentive to invest in clean energy.

“We want to have an incentive for good behavior and a disincentive for bad behavior,— he said.

Other disputes over allocations continue to percolate, said Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.). Some Members are still seeking to expand allocations for rural cooperatives, while others want more allocations for municipally owned utilities.

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