One bit of shenanigans that went on in the backroom negotiations over Lieberman-Warner was the effort by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to exempt his state’s rural electricity cooperatives from the bill’s tough emission reduction targets. Now the Great Falls Tribune has picked up the story:

Montana’s senior senator inserted a provision into a climate change bill pending in Congress that would give the rural electric co-ops in his state until 2035 to fully curtail their greenhouse gas emissions. The bill requires utility companies in other states to comply by 2012.

Baucus, a moderate Democrat who represents a major coal-producing state, gave the bill, America’s Climate Security Act, a major boost when he recently announced he would support it. Baucus was the swing vote that allowed the bill to pass a key subcommittee last week. His support of the legislation also is critical to its final passage.

Under the plan, co-ops in Montana and Virginia, the home state of one of the bill’s two sponsors, Republican Sen. John Warner, would get extra emission allowances.

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Critics say the Baucus exemption is unfair because the bill would set up a pilot project that would benefit rural electric co-ops in only two states — Montana and Virginia. Rural co-ops are nonprofit companies that operate in 45 other states, serving 12 percent of the nation’s electric consumers, who live in 75 percent of the country’s land mass.

[Clean Air Watch’s Frank] O’Donnell estimated that the additional allowances for both Montana and Virginia would be worth about $4.2 billion on the open market over two decades.

This bit is particularly … piquant:

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Montana Electric Cooperatives Association CEO David Wheelihan said his group did not ask for the extra allowances — but it appreciates Baucus’ efforts.

I bet it does.