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BP CEO wants fair treatment in U.S. climate bill

* Hayward said coal plants favored in House climate bill

* House bill gave oil sector only about 2 pct of permits

* Gasoline fee tied to carbon price more fair-Hayward

WASHINGTON, March 23 (Reuters) - The chief executive of BP Plc BP.L, one of the world's largest oil companies, said on Tuesday he is hopeful that a climate bill crafted in the U.S. Senate will be friendlier to the oil and natural gas industry than a bill passed last year by the House.

Tony Hayward said the climate bill approved by the House of Representatives, which requires all major polluters to acquire permits for the carbon emissions they release into the atmosphere, “disproportionately favored” the coal sector.

“The issue we need to deal with is, how do we create a level playing field such that all forms of C02 are priced equitably, be they from a smoke stack or tailpipe?” Hayward said at an event at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

The House bill initially would give away about 30 percent of carbon permits to utilities at no cost, covering nearly all of the sector’s emissions. About half of U.S. power comes from coal.

However, the bill gave oil refiners only about 2 percent of permits, while being held responsible for about 40 percent of U.S. emissions.

In the Senate, climate legislation has stalled as Senators try to cobble together a bi-partisan compromise bill that would address concerns from oil and coal states. [ID:nN23150263]

Regarding the work in the Senate, Hayward said he was “cautiously optimistic that something may emerge that has the right balance.”

Hayward said placing a fee on gasoline that would be linked to a price on carbon -- something senators have said they would consider -- would be one way of providing fair treatment for the oil industry under a cap and trade system. (Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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