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Lawmakers forge alternative to cap-and-trade proposal: cap-and-dividend!

By Les Blumenthal, McClatchy Newspapers Les Blumenthal, Mcclatchy Newspapers Sun Apr 19, 6:00 am ET

WASHINGTON — A growing number of lawmakers who are deeply involved in the effort to reduce greenhouse gases and global warming are beginning to question “cap-and-trade,” the current hot-button solution to the problem.

The chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee‘s energy subcommittee, Sen. Maria Cantwell , D- Wash. , says she isn’t so sure the “cap-and-trade” approach favored by the White House , environmental groups and many of her Democratic colleagues is the way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants and other industries. She fears that it could lead to the same type of unregulated Wall Street money-making schemes that fueled the current recession.

“I have serious concerns about how a cap-and-trade program might allow Wall Street to distort a carbon market for its own profits,” Cantwell said in an interview.

Cantwell and others are leaning toward a system, dubbed cap-and-dividend, that would cap carbon dioxide emissions and require companies to pay for their credits or allowances. The money raised would be distributed to taxpayers, who likely would face higher utility bills as utilities pass along the added costs of curbing greenhouse gases.

“We are looking at ways that would allow consumers to get something back,” she said.

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