U.S. climate legislation may wait to 2011: Duke CEO

ANN ARBOR, Michigan (Reuters) - Climate change legislation is unlikely to pass the U.S. Congress until the first half of 2010, and maybe not until 2011, Duke Energy Corp Chief Executive Jim Rogers said on Friday.

Rogers is one of the biggest supporters of national carbon-cutting rules among power utility executives and is active on Capitol Hill both in relations with lawmakers and as a Congressional witness.

Rogers said he has not ruled out passage of legislation this year, but believes that it is highly unlikely.

If the bill does not pass in the first half of 2010, Rogers said “it won’t be done until 2011 because 2010 is an election year.”

Rogers made his comments at an energy symposium at the University of Michigan.

A bill to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent passed the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly in June. When it did, 25 percent of the votes came from representatives in New York and California, Rogers said.

The United States is second in greenhouse gas emissions, behind China. U.S. Democratic senators Barbara Boxer and John Kerry are writing climate legislation they hope to unveil later in September.

In the Senate, each state has two votes while states have a number of representatives proportionate to population. And the 25 states that get at least half their power generated by burning coal won’t support carbon-cutting legislation easily, Rogers said.

About half the power generated in the United States comes from coal-fired plants.

Duke Energy is the third-leading U.S. emitter of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas that causes global warming.

Rogers has set himself apart from many power utility executives in supporting carbon-cutting legislation. Electric power generation creates about 40 percent of U.S. greenhouse gases.

Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Richard Chang