Shell Oil Co. President Marvin E. Odum said Wednesday that President Obama probably will win approval as early as next year for his signature environmental goal, a “cap-and-trade” system to reduce greenhouse gases.
The prediction runs counter to the hopes of many business lobbies that have been working hard to block the system, fearing it would impose huge new costs on them and consumers. Under the system, companies, including oil refiners, would pay the government for every ton of carbon dioxide they emit and could sell the right to pollute to others if they reduce their output below government limits.
Mr. Odum, who runs Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s operations in the United States, said his company is planning for the enactment of the law, which Mr. Obama estimates will generate $646 billion between 2012 and 2020, and is focusing on trying to shape the legislation so it imposes the least possible burden on Shell.
Mr. Odum indicated he would prefer that proceeds go into renewable energy technology rather than the tax cuts for individuals envisioned by Mr. Obama.
“I waver back and forth in terms of how much time it’s going to take. I do think the political will is likely in the direction of cap-and-trade,” Mr. Odum told editors and reporters of The Washington Times.
At the same time, Mr. Odum said, Shell strongly opposes Mr. Obama’s plan to raise $30 billion in new revenue over 10 years by rolling back oil and gas industry tax breaks and increasing drilling fees. He warned that the tax changes in the president’s budget plan and restrictions on offshore drilling would curb supply and production of domestically produced oil and gas, and would make the U.S. more dependent on foreign-produced fuels.