Viva La Vida for This Coal Play?

President Obama’s cap-and-trade plan to curb carbon emissions no doubt has its virtues. After all, who wouldn’t want to stop global warming? The problem, though, is that a recession is the wrong time to push for that change. Better to let companies breathe than make it harder for them to do business.

At least that’s what Cramer thought. And Southern Company CEO and President David Ratcliffe agreed. Both men are concerned because that cap-and-trade plan is basically a carbon tax. And because many utilities like Southern Company use coal as a primary energy source, their costs will soar. For consumers that translates into “significant price increases,” Ratcliffe said, on an economy that’s already challenged.

Ratcliffe’s solution, one shared across the utility industry, is to allow for “a reasonable transition period” that allows companies the time needed to comply with President Obama’s carbon guidelines. The White House’s goals would still be met. But this way, consumers aren’t pinched during the downturn and utilities have time to adjust.

Cramer suggested that Obama’s cap-and-trade policy could effectively nullify the president’s middle-class tax cuts. Watch the video for Ratcliffe’s response, as well as for the company’s plans to diversify away from coal.

Questions for Cramer?

Questions, comments, suggestions for the Mad Money website?