Carbon plans creating a stir on both sides of the border

OTTAWA — As the federal Liberals prepare for an official launch of a controversial carbon tax, the U.S. Congress got an earful from a trucking official about jurisdictional climate change initiatives.

Expressing concern over the impact that pending cap-and-trade legislation could have on the U.S. economy, Randy Mullett, Con-Way vice-president of government relations and public affairs, testified on behalf of the American Trucking Associations before the Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Mullett urged congress to take a cautious approach to climate change initiatives and avoid encouraging a patchwork of local, state and regional climate change laws that could hinder the ability of the trucking industry to function in interstate commerce.

Citing the nation’s 750,000 motor carriers who deliver goods across state lines, Mullet said the industry supports federal preemption of local, state and regional climate change laws.

“The trucking industry is concerned over what cap-and-trade legislation will do to the price of fuel we consume,” Mullett said. “Our industry can not absorb rapid increases in fuel costs. The trucking industry is extremely sensitive to how climate change legislation may further escalate fuel prices. ATA is urging Congress to carefully evaluate fuel price impacts that result from climate change legislation.”

Carbon reduction strategies are beginning
to cause a stir as fuel prices continue to rise.

Currently, governmental entities are enacting localized climate change initiatives, which Mullett said is “unworkable and impracticable” given the interstate and diverse nature of trucking.

Mullett added that cap-and-trade programs, the primary mechanism being discussed to promote carbon reductions, are more effectively applied to stationary sources. A widely diverse regulatory patchwork would impede the delivery of the nation’s goods by creating varied economic and administrative regulations that will serve as barriers to an efficient transportation system.

Meanwhile back on home soil, Liberal leader Stephane Dion has talked about proposing a national carbon tax similar to the one initiated in B.C., except the Liberal’s federal plan would exclude an extra tax at retail fuel pumps.

The carbon tax is designed to be revenue neutral – just like in B.C. – and all money collected will be legally required to be given back to consumers through personal and business tax cuts.

The Conservatives and NDPs have teamed up in opposition of the carbon tax and if the reaction in B.C. is any indication, they’ll have most of Canada on their side. A recent Ipsos Reid poll found 59 percent of British Columbians are against the new tax — set to begin July 1 — with just under half of the respondents saying they oppose it "strongly."

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