John Kemp Great Debate– John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own –

House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman will this week publish a full text of proposed climate change legislation, including details of a cap-and-trade scheme for regulating and pricing emissions of greenhouse gases.

Press reports suggest the Waxman bill will give away as many as 75 percent of the permits free to power utilities, coal-producers and other industrial users in the first stage of the plan to defuse opposition and buy support from congressional Democrats representing industrial and coal-producing states.

Free allocations would be phased out eventually, but only after a lengthy transition period that could last as long as 10-15 years.

Free allocations will undermine the immediate impact — and demonstrate the depth of opposition — to cap and trade but the real question is whether any transition to full permit auctions is automatic or requires further congressional action.