Duke Energy chief executive Jim Rogers says the nation's economic crisis is no excuse for Congress to delay work on an energy policy to help reduce emissions and curb climate change.
“We can solve our economic and environmental crises simultaneously,” Rogers said Tuesday at a news conference at the National Press Club with environmentalists and company executives who have lobbied for a carbon emissions plan for nearly two years.
“Our climate and economic challenges are twin ills; we should not treat either in isolation. The cure for one will help us fuel the other and help our nation emerge stronger and healthier than ever.”
Rogers was in Washington leading an energy and environment seminar at a CEO conference hosted by the Wall Street Journal. He has been among the most outspoken corporate voices on curbing climate change and is an active member of U.S. Climate Action Partnership, or USCAP.
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Members of the coalition said at their news conference they were pleased that President-elect Obama had coincidentally issued a video statement earlier in the day repeating his vow to push to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Both support a cap-and-trade program that would put a ceiling on the amount of carbon dioxide emissions that can be emitted from fossil fuels. Companies that exceed or go below the set limits could trade credits with one another. Duke Energy, aware that changes are coming for its business, has been lobbying to give large utilities a grace period to reduce carbon emissions and wants the government to put a price tag on the program so companies can start planning ahead.
“Delay is no longer an option,” Obama said to governors meeting at an environmental summit in California. “Denial is no longer an acceptable response.”
Rogers and the other coalition members said Congress ought to address the issue next year.
He acknowledged that general consensus on the issue last year was easier to come by than consensus on details – which, along with concern about the cost of such a program, crippled one controversial version of the bill in Congress.
Another USCAP member, Environmental Defense Fund president Fred Krupp, said Congress shouldn't get hung up on trying to solve all the complications of a carbon program. Rather, it should delegate some of that to scientists to sort out.
Krupp said a Shelby fiberglass plant is one example of how a U.S. company can benefit from future energy development. PPG Industries FiberGlass Products was able to expand its business by retooling to make parts for wind turbines.