Pacific Gas & Electric Corp., Sempra, Calpine, Florida Power & Light, and PPM Energy called for a mandatory national cap-and-trade program to curb global warming. During a U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing April 4, the companies constituted a minority that supports a federal mandate to control greenhouse gas emissions for power plants. Capping carbon dioxide gases and creating a tradable emissions market "would be a good first step" to reducing the country's greenhouse gas pollution, said Michael Bradley, executive director of the Clean Energy Group. That organization represents four of the above companies, excluding PPM. "As the industry makes substantial investments in both new and existing power plants, we are better served by having the right economic signals in place to guide these capital planning decisions," Bradley explained. PG&E, Sempra, Calpine, and FPL-along with Exelon, Entergy, and Public Services Enterprise-want the mandatory system for the energy market subsequently expanded to other large polluting sectors, said Bradley. Of the power plant owners, Calpine is the only one that does not own an interest in nuclear power plants. Sempra utility San Diego Gas & Electric, however, is attempting to extricate itself from its share of the San Onofre nuke plant. Sempra also, last week, declared that it would no longer be in the coal-fired power business (Circuit, March 31, 2006). Michael Murray, Sempra director of legislative policy, said a national cap-and-trade program was needed to thwart the "patchwork of state programs," including one that may be established in California. He added that steps taken by utilities and other companies to reduce their "carbon footprint" should be recognized. For example, Murray cited Sempra's large investment in liquefied natural gas facilities and its efficient fleet of new gas-fired power plants. Edison Electric Institute chair Michael Morris, like most of the other participants at this week's hearing in Washington, D.C., rejected the call for a mandatory program, saying voluntary actions would suffice.