WisBusiness: Doyle sees possible 15-year phase-in for cap and trade

By Andy Szal


Gov. Jim Doyle says that even if a broad international agreement on carbon caps eludes the dignitaries at the Copenhagen climate change summit this week, Congress should still move ahead with legislation to institute cap-and-trade in the United States.

But he cautioned Wednesday that states like Wisconsin that rely heavily on coal-fueled electricity would need a significant “lead-in” period — perhaps as long as 15 years.

“We can have a very active cap-and-trade model, and I think we can do it in a way that does not cause a huge shift in the economy of the United States,” Doyle told reporters in a conference call from the summit. “It’s a significant change. … I don’t think it’s a year or two.”

But Doyle said Congress should still move forward with cap-and-trade even if Copenhagen doesn’t produce a broad agreement on international carbon limits. He praised the House version of the bill for providing some carbon cap allocations instead of an “immediate auction” of the credits. Doyle said the allocations will allow utilities to adjust more gradually to the new system, but he’s also looking for greater allocations to the state’s agriculture industry.

Doyle added that there may be as few as 15 major businesses in the state that would be immediately affected by the 25 metric ton carbon threshold of the proposed bill.

“You have to stick your head in the sand not to understand how rapidly the world is changing,” Doyle said of critics who say the economy is too vulnerable to implement new carbon limits. “For us to repeat what happened to the automobile industry across the state of Wisconsin and across the country would be terrible, where we just don’t get with it.”

Doyle also said an agreement to limit deforestation could be one of the major achievements of the Copenhagen climate change summit, and that Wisconsin’s timber and paper producers stand to benefit from the carbon credits offset by renewable forests.

“We receive credits for forestation, which is obviously something we are strong in with our sustainable forests,” Doyle said. “It’s also a way that Wisconsin industries over time will be able to have offsets for carbon emissions that are at significantly lower prices than they otherwise would be.”

The governor said he’s been working with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and delegations from Brazil and Indonesia on the forestation project, and said he would be attending a dinner Wednesday night on the project.

“Obviously our forests are not of the magnitude of Brazil or Indonesia,” Doyle said. “It should not just be those countries that are in a heavy mode of deforestation now … it’s important that we receive the offsets for those so that our forests would actually have something of value that they would be able to sell around the world.”

Listen to the teleconference