The leaders of Iowa’s largest utility are due in Washington D.C. soon for a meeting with top White House officials to discuss the so-called "cap and trade" bill before the U.S. Senate. The bill tries to help the environment by addressing climate change issues but would reportedly cost the average Iowa household 3,000 more dollars a year on utility bills. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says he helped to arrange the meeting.
Harkin says the initial meeting had to be rescheduled but now officials with Des Moines-based MidAmerican Energy are supposed to "make their case" at the White House, which Harkin says he "pushed for" so utility officials’ concerns would be heard. MidAmerican claims the legislation would cost it 280-million dollars a year as the bill penalizes utilities with coal-fired power plants. Harkin says he’s encouraged Obama administration officials have agreed to the meeting.
He says, "There’s a recognition on their part that, yes, companies like MidAmerican are caught in a bind and so are the consumers who are part of their distribution network." Due to increased energy costs, critics say the bill would boost prices on virtually every consumer product sold, raising prices 160-billion dollars a year more by 2020. Critics say it could also cost American jobs as corporations move out of the U.S. and into less-restrictive nations.
Cap and trade, formally known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, passed the U.S. House late last month and Harkin says it needs revision. Harkin says, "The fact is that the House bill, I think, does disproportionately hurt some of our Midwestern states and we’re going to have to get that rectified here in the Senate." The 1,400 page bill contains a variety of efforts aimed at preserving the environment, but according to one report, it would also raise energy taxes 60-billion dollars.
Harkin says, "I’m for a climate bill — we’ve gotta’ reduce CO2 emissions, but my bottom line is, the burden has to be fairly distributed so that East Coast, West Coast, mid-America energy producers share the burden equally." He applauds MidAmerican, saying the utility has done more to promote wind energy than any other utility in the nation.