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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Monday, Oct. 26, 2009
CONTACT:  Leah Mohr, deputy director, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, (605) 773-3201 or (605) 280-4327

PUC Chairman Johnson to testify before U.S. Senate committee

PIERRE, S.D. – Dusty Johnson, chairman of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, will testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Oct. 28 about the effect proposed federal carbon legislation will have on South Dakotans.

The committee will hold a three-day hearing on the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, also known as the Kerry-Boxer bill. Johnson joins a host of leaders scheduled to testify that includes presidential cabinet secretaries Steven Chu, Dept. of Energy; Ray LaHood, Dept. of Transportation; and Ken Salazar, Dept. of Interior; as well industry experts such as Dan Richer, director of Google's climate and energy initiatives and Bill Klesse, chairman and CEO of Valero Energy Corp.

Johnson's testimony focuses on the consumer impact proposed carbon legislation will have on residents of South Dakota and other Midwestern states. The PUC estimates the legislation would increase the bills of many South Dakotans by 25 percent as soon as 2012. An impact of that size would pull more than a quarter billion dollars a year out of South Dakota. "I understand the desire to reduce our carbon footprint, and I think we should. But the climate change legislation pending is not the right approach," Johnson said.

Substantially burdensome costs, negative impact on domestic energy production and unfair distribution of allowances are among the main points Johnson will stress in his presentation to the senate. "This climate change legislation is complex and complicated," Johnson said. "But the effect it would have on South Dakotans and others in the heartland is simple and severe: higher energy costs, restrictive controls on our energy producers and a redistribution of wealth from our states to the coastal states," he said.

Testifying before the Committee on Environment and Public Works gives Johnson the opportunity to speak directly to one of the bill's authors, Sen. Barbara Boxer of California who chairs the committee. "This bill is blatantly unfair to the Midwest, and is more about politics than the environment. Rather than deal with our carbon problems by investing in energy efficiency and new technologies, this bill focuses on transferring wealth. The bill would give California 12 million more carbon allowances than it needs for compliance while South Dakota would face a 3 million-allowance shortfall. California would be able to turn around and sell their excess credits to South Dakota, realizing tens of millions of dollars in windfall profits," Johnson said. "Utility companies don't pay these bills, consumers do."

To view a live Web cast of this hearing at 9:30 a.m. EDT (8:30 a.m. CDT/7:30 a.m. MDT) on Wednesday, Oct. 28, go to click on the "Live Hearing" link. Chairman Johnson is expected to testify sometime around 1 p.m. EDT (Noon CDT/11 a.m. MDT).


NOTE TO EDITORS: You can access Commissioner Johnson's full written testimony at: