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Wednesday, April 22, 2009 01:49 pm

Shimkus faces tough choice on carbon

As a Republican on energy committee, he may not get much say

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U.S. Rep. John Shimkus.
PHOTO BY STEVE NAGY/MCT

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, stopped in Springfield last week, and as expected, carbon was his hot topic.

Shimkus, a 12-year member of the House energy and commerce committee, told the Citizens Club of Springfield that while he opposes both cap-and-trade legislation and a carbon tax, he favors the latter over the former. A cap-and-trade plan, which permits companies to trade carbon emissions credits in a stock market-type system, will further corporate corruption and extort energy prices, he said.

“Is a carbon tax better than a carbon cap-and-trade?” Shimkus said. “I may not like either one of them, but I may have to choose one. A carbon tax would be a little bit clearer, very transparent, and people would know what they’re paying.”

Shimkus also opposes cap-and-trade, because he said it’s not a short-term solution. Fossil fuels provide low-cost energy sources, he explained, but the only way to continue their use is through carbon capture and sequestration. Engineers plan to use the emerging technology to separate carbon from power plant flue gas and inject it into underground storage facilities.

“The technology isn’t available,” he said. “It’ll be 10 years before we know if we can capture and sequester carbon.”

“If we’re going to move to a carbon-constrained world,” he added, “we have to move fast.”

Last month U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Cal., chairman of the energy and commerce committee, and U.S. Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the energy and environment subcommittee, released a draft of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. The legislation, which promotes carbon capture and sequestration technologies and cap-and-trade provisions, along with other measures, comes up for House energy and commerce committee consideration beginning this week.

Shimkus, a minority member of the committee, doesn’t expect to have much input on early versions of the bill. He does promise to be a “tough adversary.”

“I’m going to have to cast votes as this process moves forward, and hopefully there will be a couple of amendments that I can support,” he said.

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