20100225 gas prices 18
A gas pump display shows gasoline prices in New York. - 

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: Three senators -- Democrat John Kerry, Independent Joe Lieberman, and Republican Lindsey Graham -- are about to introduce a major piece of climate change legislation. Marketplace's Alisa Roth reports the measure may include a sweetheart deal for Big Oil.


Alisa Roth: The three senators aren't ready to talk specifics yet. But it looks like the bill could let oil companies off the hook for carbon emissions. And instead, gas would be taxed, and we'd pay for it at the pump.

Tom Kloza is chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service. He says oil companies and their home states would obviously love this. But:

Tom Kloza: The problem is, is that, politically, raising a tax on anything these days, particularly gasoline, is probably a very, very difficult task.

Kloza and others say it doesn't matter if oil companies pay directly for their carbon emissions. They'd just pass the cost onto us anyway.

Sander Cohan is at ESAI, an energy consulting firm:

Sander Cohan: A fee at the pump really is much more transparent. This translates directly through to an ultimate gasoline price.

It's too soon to talk about the mechanics of such a tax, but it would probably be pegged to the price of carbon on the open market. Which means it could fluctuate.

I'm Alisa Roth for Marketplace.