hotflash: Tell me what you know about Claire McCaskill’s attitude toward the energy bill.
Andy Levine: (inaudible) a kind of studied neutrality about it. It’s what you’d expect out of Senator McCaskill. She is, uh, she’s sharp. She’s gonna want to really get into the issue in a detailed kind of way and know what’s going on on all fronts. They’ve had some concerns they’ve talked about before in costs and jobs. And a lot of those we kinda feel have been allayed, or at least we’ve been able to have good dialogue. And they’ve been able to see that the bill is or at least the frameworks for the bill aren’t gonna do those, the worst case damages that they’ve heard about from the other side.
One of the more recent concerns that she’s talked about has been with the creation of an entirely new financial market, which, you know, there would be under cap and trade that’d create a new market for trading carbon permits back and forth. To me, that signals that she’s ready to engage. You know, when she starts putting the auditor hat back on, that typically means that she really is going to get into an issue, she’s thinking about it in the way that she thinks about things, and hopefully it means that she’s gonna be a participant and make this a better bill and help pass it.
hotflash: And what is she afraid of as far as the market, in the market?
Levine: Well, you know, I think one of the things you do have to watch in creating a cap and trade system is making sure that you’re not adding a whole new set of unregulated ways for people to trade back and forth with these permits instead of buying and selling the permits. She wants to make sure that that doesn’t turn into, you know, similar to, something similar to the energy markets in the early 2000s where you had Enron running blackouts. And, you know, she wants to make sure it doesn’t turn into derivatives. So, you know, to me it’s, it’s constructive criticism. It’s not a sink-the-bill criticism.
hotflash: What do you think about her criticism from last summer–I think it was last summer–about not wanting to put ourselves at a disadvantage with countries like India and China, if they’re not …
Levine: Well, you know, I think Copenhagen has gone a long way to address that. I think that we’ve seen the developing world really want to engage on this. And, you know, for whatever part everybody played, at the end of the day an agreement came out of that conference. And, I think, what she’s seen also is that this bill has the kind of components to it that are not going to put American jobs at risk, that are in fact going to create new jobs in this country. You know, the efficiency provisions that are in this bill and job creation provisions that are in this bill really make it a win/win for us and are not gonna, you know, they’re not gonna put people at risk. And we’re not gonna see big, you know, increases in our energy costs and we’re not gonna see the kind of doom and gloom scenarios that the Republicans and frankly some of the bigger energy companies have been pushing on this. So, you know, she’s seen that. She’s had the chance to see through some of those, you know, red herrings. And I think now that she’s seen that this is a good framework, that it is a good, you know, a good bill that is being crafted, you know I think that if she can get in and do some work on the fiscal end of it, then she’s gonna be a part of the team and help move it forward. But that’s our hope, that’s our hope.
hotflash: I certainly hope so. Yeah, yeah.
Levine: She’s certainly been an honest broker the whole time with us, though. She’s given both sides the time of day. And I feel like, you know, they’ve been utterly fair with everybody and, you know, upfront with their concerns. As long as they keep acting, you know, in that kind of a manner, I feel like it’s gonna move forward in the right way and hopefully get her on the team.
hotflash: Okay. Just fill me in a little bit, if you wouldn’t mind, about your remark that after Copenhagen that concern about the jobs issue as far as China …
Levine: Well, it’s not even just that. I mean, first of all you had, you know, the concern last summer was that China and India aren’t gonna engage, they’re not gonna be part of the process, and we’re gonna take this big step and then nobody else is gonna take the step with us. Well, we’ve seen that to be incorrect. I mean, even in the months leading up to Copenhagen, the Indians were lobbying hard to get a bill moving, to get the United States participating in this. The (inaudible) foreign minister told Senator Clinton, Secretary Clinton, pardon me, that they want the Americans to lead. They want us to lead and, you know, we take a step, they’ll take a step with us. And the Chinese engaged heavily at Copenhagen. Now, they, you know, they shaped the process to meet some of their own domestic goals, but at the end of the day you had an agreement that had to come out with the United States and China on board, for anything to happen. And I think when you look at that, when you also look at the provisions that are in this bill already, some of the language being used to talk about, you know, protections for certain domestic industries, you know, you look at some of the efficiency targets that are in there and some of the job growth potential, I think she’s starting to see that this is not going to be a big, you know, punishment to American industry. But, in fact, it’s going to be a way to help American industry modernize and hopefully stay more competitive globally than we would have without it.
hotflash: Thanks, Andy.