The Obama administration's moves toward regulating greenhouse gas emissions are sending Congress a message to act quickly on climate change legislation, Entergy Corp.'s chairman and chief executive said Wednesday.
Wayne Leonard told reporters he believed the administration was acting because Congress has been too slow to address the problem. The Environmental Protection Agency declared Monday that carbon emissions could endanger human health and would be subject to federal regulation.
"With EPA moving forward, they're sending a clear message that this is a serious problem and either you're going to deal with it or we're going to deal with it," Leonard said after a speech at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.
Congress can't afford not to act, he said.
"We're playing Russian roulette with the planet and our economy," Leonard said. "The difference is there's a bullet in every chamber except one."
During his speech, Leonard said one part of the solution will be improving technology at coal plants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Entergy, which provides electricity for 2.7 million customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and southeast Texas, operates three coal plants.
Leonard also told reporters he hoped Entergy's subsidiaries in Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana could negotiate a new deal to share power-generating capabilities after federal regulators agreed to let those in Arkansas and Mississippi bow out of an existing agreement.
That pact allowed the companies to share power generation but also required them to share production costs.
Arkansas regulators say ratepayers in that state will save money when Entergy Arkansas leaves the pact in 2013 because they won't be paying for other companies' production costs.
Entergy Mississippi can leave the pact in 2015.
Leonard said he believed the utilities could negotiate a new deal to share power generation that wouldn't shift the production costs among states. Any new deal also would likely require two years' notice to end, rather than the eight years now required, he said.
"We have certain principles that we think reasonable people would agree with, and we're hoping that there aren't particular hard spots that would cause the various jurisdiction of states to want to be on their own," Leonard said. "We're hopeful that doesn't happen, and we can put an agreement together that meets everyone's needs. It would obviously be a lot different than the last one."
Other companies involved in the pact are Entergy Gulf States Louisiana, Entergy Louisiana, Entergy Texas and Entergy New Orleans.