Monday AM August 17th, 2009

The authors of the climate change bill being considered by Congress say annual energy costs would only modestly increase as new clean technologies are introduced. But one Houston oil executive says the legislation could drive up the cost of gasoline. Ed Mayberry reports.

Anadarko CEO Jim HackettAnadarko CEO Jim Hackett is not a fan of the Waxman-Markey climate legislation.  Democratic Congressmen Henry Waxman and Edward Markey say their bill will help clean energy grow and create jobs.  Hackett says although the bill's about climate change, it doesn't incentivise it for at least ten to 15 years. 

"Secondly, it was supposed to be about trying to create revenues tossed at the additional costs of alternative fuels—which in of itself, an admission that there's a huge cost element to this.  When you put that together with some of the tax proposals the administration is pursuing, it's a double whammy to us as consumers from the standpoint of they're promising us this virtual reality in alternative fuels at the same time as they're taxing all the conventional fuels, and not really affecting the climate at all." 

Hackett says Americans are reluctant to expand nuclear power or build more coal plants for electricity, and wind and solar have to be backed up by natural gas.  He says that would make an immediate impact on the climate.

"I think that unless we get after natural gas as an alternative, we're going to fail on our strategy, if you will, to both reduce man-made emissions and to keep costs in line for American consumers.  And our fear is if we don't do this, is that you're electricity rates and your gasoline costs are going to go up by about 50 per cent.  Whereas, if you invest in natural gas it can actually substitute for transportation fuels—which solar and wind does nothing to do, because they only produce electricity, they don't produce fuels for cars.  And we've got to use natural gas in electric generation going forward." 

Hackett says energy legislation should be science-led, and not politically-led.  He cites corn-based ethanol as costing billions to put into place, but it stays because it generates too many Midwestern votes.  Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.

Bio photo of Ed Mayberry

Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...