Resolving the climate debate gives coal a path forward.
I met Congressman Rick Boucher (D-Va.) in November. He was speaking to attendees at EEI’s Finance Conference in Phoenix, and after his speech many people remarked that they wished other members of Congress were even half as well versed about the utility industry’s issues as Boucher seems to be.
Boucher has his finger on the pulse of the U.S. utility industry for good reason. He represents southwestern Virginia, the heart of the Appalachian Basin coal fields, where the economy lives and dies on the fortunes of the U.S. coal-burning power industry. As such, Boucher has advocated coal’s interests in virtually every major piece of energy legislation arising before the House of Representatives during his 26-year term.
As chairman of the House Energy & Air Quality Subcommittee, Boucher is leading the charge on two pieces of legislation that might prove vital to the future of coal-fired power in this country. First, H.R. 6258, the Carbon Capture and Storage [CCS] Early Deployment Act, would levy a retail electricity surcharge to finance research, development and demonstration of CCS technology (see “Debating the Boucher Bill”). Second, together with Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), outgoing Chairman of the Energy & Commerce Committee, Boucher is advancing cap-and-trade legislation aimed at reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050.