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Do-or-die for cap-and-trade

Published (5/16/2008)
By Nick Busse
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Legislators want a larger role for themselves in negotiations for a regional greenhouse gas cap-and-trade system, and Gov. Tim Pawlenty will now get to decide whether they get it.

Sponsored by Rep. Kate Knuth (DFL-New Brighton) and Sen. Ellen Anderson (DFL-St. Paul), HF3195 would provide for economic, environmental and governance studies on a possible regional cap-and-trade deal, and would also require legislative approval of any such deal. The conference report was passed 96-36 by the House May 13 and 41-22 by the Senate May 15. It is now on its way to the governor’s desk.

The bill would establish a six-member Legislative Greenhouse Gas Accord Advisory Group that would advise members of the governor’s staff participating in negotiations for a regional cap-and-trade system. It would also provide for studies by the Commerce Department and the Pollution Control Agency on various potential impacts — both positive and negative — of cap-and-trade.

Knuth said the bill “sets up some legislative oversight” in the regional negotiation process, and described the conference report as “very similar” to the version passed by the House 91-38 April 23. The only substantive difference, she said, was that a House provision stating the bill’s legislative intent was removed

Rep. John Berns (R-Wayzata) encouraged his fellow Republicans to support the bill, noting that removal of the legislative intent language might alleviate some of their concerns.

“I think from the position of many members, the intent was something you were concerned about, because it put into law that the intent of the state is to adopt cap-and-trade. And that’s gone now,” Berns said, adding that the bill would provide the state with a “good and thorough” study on the issue.

Rep. Mark Buesgens (R-Jordan) had a less optimistic view of the bill, calling it a “jobs program for whacko scientists.”

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