Thursday, April 07, 2005

Duke Energy CEO proposes 'carbon tax'

Posted on Thu, Apr. 07, 2005
Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Duke Energy Corp. will lobby for a tax on carbon dioxide emissions that would reduce fossil fuel consumption and begin dealing with the global warming problem, the company's chairman said Thursday.
"Personally, I feel the time has come to act - to take steps as a nation to reduce the carbon intensity of our economy," Paul Anderson told several hundred Charlotte business and civil leaders at a breakfast meeting. "And it's going to take all of us to do it."
Anderson acknowledged a national carbon tax would mean bigger utility bills and higher prices at the gas pump. But unless industry leaders take the lead, he said, the long-term outcome could be even more disastrous.
"If we (the U.S. energy industry) ignore the issue, we would be the easy target," he said. "The worst scenario would be if all 50 states took separate actions and we have to comply with 50 different laws."
Anderson's speech was a follow-up to a letter he wrote last week to shareholders that accompanied the Charlotte-based company's annual report. In the letter, Anderson vowed to be proactive in shaping national policy on global warming and climate change.
In his letter, Anderson said political leaders must break through the congressional stalemate on multi-pollutant legislation and formulate a new national energy policy.
Duke Energy, which ranked 86th in the recent Fortune 500 list, is not the only large U.S. energy firm to address global warming as a key policy concern. Cincinnati-based Cinergy Corp. also addressed the issue in an annual report issued last week.
"As a major coal-burning utility, some might expect us to duck this issue," wrote Cinergy Chairman James Rogers. "But avoiding the debate over global climate change and failing to understand its consequences are not options for us."
Duke Power Co., Duke Energy's regulated utility, relies heavily on coal and nuclear energy to produce nearly all its power.
After his speech, Anderson acknowledged he does not expect to see a carbon tax enacted under President Bush. Bush withdrew the United States from participation in the Kyoto Protocol, an international global warming treaty that took effect in February.
The Kyoto Treaty requires more than 30 industrial countries to reduce their emissions of six greenhouse gases by a combined average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.