Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Both candidates would cap greenhouse gases; what would be the rural impact?

Regardless of who is elected president this year, both candidates have promised to put caps on greenhouse gas emissions from utilities and industries. This means that rural residents will be paying "more to fill their cars and more for natural gas and electricity to heat their homes," writes Phillip Brasher of The Des Moines Register. "Farmers may pay more for fertilizer." But the emerging renewable-energy industries could benefit from the caps.

John McCain and Barack Obama favor the cap-and-trade system to help curb greenhouse gases. Under the system, "The government would set limits on the amount of carbon a utility or company could emit," writes Brasher. "Firms that exceed their cap would have to find a way to reduce their emissions -- by switching power sources, for example -- or else obtain emission allowances. Companies that come in under the limits could earn credits they'd sell to firms that need them."

Jerald Schnoor, a University of Iowa researcher who chairs the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council, told Brasher, "Iowa is going to benefit from these things." Rising prices of coal, gasoline, and natural gas will make biofuel, wind, and solar power more economically competitive. But it is unclear however how the cap-and-trade system would impact farmers. Farms produce greenhouse gases from both cattle and the use of fertilizers, which make up 20 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in Iowa. What is also unclear is how the next president will implement caps on greenhouse gases during a time of such economic distress. (Read more)

No comments: