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Hannibal Courier Post: Cap-and-trade could be sore spot on Obama visit

By Brent Engel, Hannibal Courier-Post

President Barack Obama likely will get an earful about cap-and-trade during his visit to the Tri-States. Cap-and-trade is a system of regulating pollution. The federal government would limit the amount of emissions that companies, manufacturers and utilities could produce. The permits could be traded among licensees.

Opponents call it government intrusion upon private industry and fear a substantial rise in fuel and energy costs. Supporters say the regulations are needed to decrease carbon emissions and encourage the development alternative fuels. There are contradictions about what cap-and-trade has done in Europe, which enacted a plan in 2005. Some pundits called it costly and flawed. Others said it took a few years to get going, but has since started to work.

Obama has supported cap-and-trade. Missouri Republican U.S. Senator Christopher “Kit” Bond and Republican Congressmen Blaine Luetkemeyer and Todd Akin have said they oppose it.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, supports “weaning ourselves off foreign oil,” but wants to make sure that legislation is “not harmful to Missouri,” said spokeswoman Laura Myron.

“Senator McCaskill recognizes that climate change is a serious problem that must be addressed, but she won’t support a bill that unfairly passes the cost of fixing it to working families and small businesses in Missouri,” Myron said.
Luetkemeyer calls cap-and-trade “cap-and-tax legislation” that he claims would be ruinous to Missouri.

“I can only hope that the president will spend time here actually listening to the people of Northeast Missouri instead of lecturing them,”

Luetkemeyer said in a statement.

Illinois U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Roland Burris have both supported cap-and-trade. Another Illinois Democrat, Congressman Phil Hare, has supported the legislation, but with compromises.

The Missouri Farm Bureau has been a vocal critic. The group says it is concerned about the economic impact for America and disadvantages that could be created with trading partners that don’t have similar legislation. It also isn’t convinced by the scientific claims used by supporters.

“We don’t think it’s well thought out,” said Farm Bureau spokesman Estil Fretwell, a former Northeast Missouri state lawmaker. “The negative implications are very strong for agriculture.”

Erin Noble of the group Renew Missouri said cap-and-trade is a way to “help achieve energy independence” that would create new jobs, result in cleaner air and make America less dependent upon foreign oil.

Noble called it “imperative that there is a price on carbon” and said that cap-and-trade “really would be a huge economic boon to the state of Missouri.”

Meanwhile, Obama has endorsed plans to expand ethanol production as an alternative fuel. Ethanol is ethyl alcohol made from corn that is a biofuel additive to gasoline.

Obama’s private visit to the POET ethanol plant outside of Macon on Wednesday will be his first to such a facility as president. He did visit the now-bankrupt VeraSun plant in Charles City, Iowa, when he as a presidential candidate.