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A terrible-fitting cap

North Dakota State Roundup

July 1, 2009


A terrible-fitting cap

North Dakota utility regulators are taking a hard line on proposals for a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions—one that is very different from the plan emanating from Washington.

In May, the Public Service Commission released a report opposing a cap-and-trade system. The state’s citizens and industries would suffer disproportionately, the report said, because about 95 percent of the power generated by in-state utilities—much of which is exported—comes from in-state coal mines. A cap-and-trade system would induce significant cost increases for in-state utilities, which would be passed on to ratepayers. The coal industry itself—a big employer in the state—would also bear the brunt of such regulation.

The report urged that any carbon regulation be targeted for technology research and development rather than be considered general government revenue. But it added that even if all recommendations for improvement were embraced, the commission found the concept “so inherently flawed” that it should be rejected by Congress.

photo of Ronald A. Wirtz
Ronald A. Wirtz
Editor, fedgazette

Ron Wirtz is a regional outreach director at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Ron’s primary responsibilities involve tracking current business conditions, with a focus on employment and wages, along with sector-tracking in construction, real estate, consumer spending and tourism. In this role, Ron networks with local businesses in a six-state region, both in person and via various communication channels, and gathers other traditional and nontraditional sources of information to assess current business activity. Ron also gives customized speeches on regional economic activity, and handles advance planning for regular outreach trips to Ninth District communities by Bank President Neel Kashkari. Prior to this role, Ron was the long-time editor of the fedgazette, the Bank’s regional business and economics publication, where he conducted research on such topics as employment trends, health care pricing and consolidation, housing, entrepreneurship, public pensions, income mobility, the Bakken oil boom and other topics.