Why US cap-and-trade legislation could be good for Canadian business

…Or at least better than the alternative.

…Or at least better than the alternative.

Right now the fate of cap-and-trade legislation is looking pretty dicey in Washington. When and if Congress passes health care reform, there may be little appetite left among Democrats for a big controversial bill ahead of the mid-term elections in November. Many observers expect that a general energy bill will pass while climate change legislation will be kicked down the road to an even more uncertain future.

Today, Jayson Myers, president of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, wrapped up four days of meetings in here in Washington, DC with administration officials, congressional staffers, and business associations. He says he came away concerned about what might happen if climate change legislation does not pass. Namely, aggressive unilateral carbon regulation by Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency, and a complex patchwork of regulations emanating from state governments, all of which could hit Canadian energy and energy-intensive manufactured exports.

What he heard was, “The EPA would take a more aggressive regulatory stance — but no one knows what that would mean.” Add to that various regulations or taxes coming from the states, and compliance costs to Canadian businesses would become more expensive and complicated, he feared.

“A federal approach to this is preferable for us,” said Myers, emphasizing the need for a coordinated US-Canada approach with a mutually recognized framework and principles.