U.S. climate bill costs low for households: EIA

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The climate change bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives would raise annual energy costs for U.S. households less than $150 in 10 years, significantly lower than some industry estimates, according to a draft report from the Energy Information Administration.

A gasoline pump is seen at a closed-down Alliance station in Ventura, California June 19, 2008. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

The EIA’s analysis of the House climate legislation says the average U.S. family would pay $142 more in energy expenses in 2020, and $583 more in 2030, if it were enacted.

The projection from the EIA is in line with projections made by the Congressional Budget Office and the Environmental Protection Agency, and contradict claims by energy and business trade groups that consumers would pay thousands of dollars more a year under the plan to fight global warming.

The EIA’s estimate also found that gasoline prices would be 23 cents a gallon higher in 2020 and 36 cents more in 2030, according to a draft analysis that was sent to U.S. lawmakers last week and obtained by Reuters. The agency said it will release the final version of the report soon.

Much of the debate on climate change legislation has centered on the possible economic impact of establishing a system limiting carbon emissions.

Democrats and other supporters of the legislation have promoted the plan as a way to bolster the lagging economy. Opponents have characterized the bill as a “job killer” that would unduly burden American high energy costs.

Jeremy Symons, who oversees the National Wildlife Federation’s climate change program, said the EIA’s analysis shows that industry claims that efforts to fight global warming would significantly boost energy costs “are completely unfounded and simply scare tactics.”

The EIA reviewed the impact of the climate change bill at the request of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The House in June passed legislation to cut U.S. carbon emissions from utilities, manufacturers and others by 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050, from 2005 levels.

The lower emission levels would be accomplished through a cap-and-trade system, where a U.S. company would be required to have a pollution permit to emit one ton of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions each year.

Carbon permits are projected to cost $32 a metric ton in 2020 and $65 in 2030, the EIA said.

Those companies that use cleaner energy and reduce their emissions could sell their permits to companies that pollute more.

The U.S. Senate is expected to unveil its climate change bill in September when lawmakers return from their summer recess.

Reporting by Tom Doggett; editing by Jim Marshall