Notes from the First Full Committee Hearing on Lieberman-Warner

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 08 Nov 2007 20:22:00 GMT

This morning the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held its first hearing on Lieberman-Warner (S 2191).

Sens. Warner, Isakson, and Clinton were not in attendance.

Republican senators Voinovich, Inhofe, Vitter, and Craig protested the speed with which the bill is being considered, and called for more hearings and for an analysis from the DOE’s Energy Information Administration and the EPA before markup of the bill. Boxer responded indignantly to the “slow dance” approach, noting that twenty hearings were held this year on global warming and reading a statement from Sen. Warner: “This committee had the chance to hold hearings on Lieberman-McCain and it did not.”

Democratic senators Sanders, Cardin, Lautenberg, and Carper criticized the free allocation of permits to polluters, calling for 100% auction or greater allocation to clean and renewable energy producers.

Sen. Whitehouse (D-R.I.) focused on the lack of jurisdiction and oversight over the market entities created by the bill as a problem area.

Sen. Lieberman favorably noted that entities like electricity company PG&E get both free allocations and proceeds from the auctions.

The witnesses from WRI and the Environmental Resources Trust noted that the basic economic arguments for greater auction of permits: greater economic efficiency and a lower likelihood of market distortion in the form of windfall profits for polluters. They also noted that some degree of free allocation is likely a political necessity. The PG&E witness said he would probably not support the bill without free allocations to his company, and proposed several schemes that would increase subsidies and lower risk for his company at the expense of coal-intensive energy providers. The PG&E witness also made the observation, under questioning from Sen. Sanders, that concentrated solar plants are already competitive with new nuclear plants without government support and would be competitive with current coal/hydro plants if the kinds of subsidies the bill is planning for advanced coal technology were put instead into the renewable sector.

The minority witnesses argued for greater efforts to protect against foreign competition and argued that the short-term caps were too strict. Boxer noted their strong connections to the fossil fuel lobby.

Much more in the live-blog digest transcript.

ASES: One in Four U.S. Jobs Could Be in Green Sector by 2030

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 08 Nov 2007 19:54:00 GMT

The American Solar Energy Society unveiled a new report today in a briefing with Sen. Ken Salazar that says that 40 million U.S. jobs by 2030 in renewable energy and energy-efficiency (RE&EE) could be created if policymakers commit to growing the sector.

If U.S. policymakers aggressively commit to programs that support the sustained orderly development of RE&EE, the news gets even better. According to research conducted by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) and Management Information Services, Inc. (MISI), the renewable energy and energy efficiency industry could—in a crash effort—generate up to $4.5 trillion in revenue in the United States and create 40 million new jobs by the year 2030. These 40 million jobs would represent nearly one out of every four jobs in 2030, and many would be jobs that could not easily be outsourced.

Continue reading for more excerpts.

Kerry Pushes Carbon Sequestration Development

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 07 Nov 2007 22:56:00 GMT

Today Sen. Kerry chaired a hearing on geological carbon sequestration and introduced legislation to establish CCS demonstration projects.

The legislation provisions:
  • Establish 3-5 commercial-scale sequestration facilities
  • Establish 3-5 “first-of-a-kind” coal-fired demonstration plants with carbon capture
  • Establish an interagency process to determine a regulatory framework for CCS
  • Direct USGS to perform a capacity assessment of sequestration potential; establish an aggressive CCS R&D program at DOE
  • Authorize technology sharing agreements with China, India and other coal-intensive developing countries.

At the hearing the consensus was that the federal government should invest not only in a few large-scale projects, but also a greater number of small-scale pilot tests, and in use-directed fundamental research. The EPRI representative emphasized the advantages of starting R&D investment before carbon emissions pricing kicks in, and promoted the work EPRI has done to study advanced coal technologies and CO2 capture and sequestration.

NWF at Power Shift on Cap-and-Auction

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 07 Nov 2007 22:44:00 GMT

At the National Wildlife Federation table at Power Shift Youth Summit:

Q: Does the National Wildlife Federation support the idea of a cap and auction system?

A: Yeah, we’ve been working for a number of years on supporting the best cap-and-trade system possible. We support 100% auction of credits, or if there is distribution, there should only be distribution for public benefit, and want to see good legislation come out of Congress. Our time for strong action is rapidly dwindling and want to see the best legislation we can possibly pass as soon as we can possibly pass it.

Power Shift Coverage

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 07 Nov 2007 16:21:00 GMT

There was essentially no national news coverage of Power Shift, though Power Shift organizer Jessy Tolkan did some media pieces: Andrew Revkin at the New York Times interviewed her his blog and she debated Pat Buchanan on Hardball.

Politico: Students demand environmental power shift
Like so many of the students in attendance, the group of UVM freshmen demonstrated an impressive knowledge of the policy issues at hand, easily launching into disquisitions on the need for dense, mixed-use urban planning and investments in mass transit to combat suburban sprawl and reduce auto dependence.

MTVNews did this piece: Youth Leaders Shift Attention To Environment At Power Shift Summit In D.C.

Student newspaper coverage from Cornell (NY), University of Massachusetts, Simon’s Rock College (Mass.), Trinity College (Conn.), Virginia Tech, Duke University (N.C.) Howard University (D.C.), University of Maryland (more, more, more), Ithaca College (NY), University of Tennessee, Knoxville, University of Connecticut, Georgetown University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Central Florida, Carnegie Mellon University (Penn.).

Senate GOP Blocking Farm Bill Debate; Bush Threatens Veto

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 07 Nov 2007 15:46:00 GMT

Senate debate on the farm bill (HR 2419/S 2302/SA 3500) stalled yesterday when Republicans objected to a unanimous consent resolution that only germane amendments could be proposed. Reid responded by filling the amendment tree with germane amendments, including the Grassley-Dorgan amendment to limit farm payments (SA 3508) and the Lugar-Lautenberg FRESH Act (S 2228) as a substitute bill.

Also yesterday the White House announced its intentions to veto the Senate version of the farm bill (Harkin, S 2302/SA 3500), stating its opposition for budget accounting reasons, though its opposition to the kinds of subsidy reforms in the Harkin bill is also known.

If the farm bill is stalled through the Thanksgiving recess beginning at the end of next week, Reid said subjects the Senate may consider include:
  • a repeal of the estate tax
  • S-CHIP
  • Iraq war amendments
  • labor issues

Climate Youth Invade Capitol

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 05 Nov 2007 22:29:00 GMT

© 2007 Ben Wikler
Today saw thousands of Power Shift participants coming to Capitol Hill for a day of testimony before the House Global Warming Committee, a large rally on the Capitol steps, and perhaps most importantly, hundreds of meetings with staff and legislators.

The youth activists introduced the 1Sky platform and asked for a commitment to the goals of making green jobs, strong emissions cuts, and no new coal top climate legislation priorities. They also called for 100% auction of pollution permits, and for an energy bill with the Senate 35 MPG standard, the House renewable energy standard, the Green Jobs Act, and no coal or nuclear subsidies.

Kansas Coal Lobby Attacks Natural Gas Industry 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 05 Nov 2007 21:49:00 GMT

In response to the Kansas state’s decision to deny permits for two new Sunflower Electric coal plants, a group funded by Sunflower Electric placed a newspaper ad arguing that
without new, next-generation coal-fueled plants, Kansans will be captive to high-priced natural gas, allowing hostile foreign countries to control the energy policy of Kansas and America. We are already held hostage to some of these same countries for oil.

The text of the ad runs below full-color photographs of Vladimir Putin, Hugo Chavez, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The Natural Gas Supply Association and Kansas Gas Service have not yet responded.

Water Resources Development Act Veto Override On Tap

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 05 Nov 2007 18:12:00 GMT

In late September Congress sent the Water Resources Development Act (HR 1495) with veto-proof majorities in both chambers to the President’s desk. On Friday he vetoed the bill, which would authorizing funding for Army Corps of Engineers projects, including major projects for coastal Louisiana, the Mississippi River, and the Florida Everglades. This is Bush’s fifth veto of his presidency.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote tomorrow to override the veto, and the Senate will follow suit this week. Top Republicans, such as Rep. John L. Mica (Fla.), ranking member of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee (T&I), and Sen. James Inhofe (Ok.), ranking member of the Environment & Public Works Committee, have vowed to help override the veto.

Rep. James L. Oberstar (Minn.) and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Tex.) issued this T&I statement:
It is simply irresponsible for President Bush to veto the only WRDA legislation that has made it to his desk since he took office. Our country cannot afford more setbacks on water resources issues and projects that are critical to our Nation’s economy, as well as to our communities.

As the experiences of the last few months have demonstrated, America’s infrastructure is in dire need. Whether the issue is bridges that collapse in Minnesota or levees that fail in New Orleans, our nation’s infrastructure has reached a critical juncture and may be on the verge of failure. How many more failures do we need before this administration understands the importance of investing in the repair, replacement, and sustainability of our nation’s infrastructure? The American people’s lives and livelihoods depend on safe, reliable, and dependable roads, bridges, levees, and navigation corridors.

Continue reading for a review of HR 1495.

Mayors Climate Summit

Posted by Brad Johnson Sat, 03 Nov 2007 20:08:00 GMT

On Thursday and Friday, the U.S. Conference of Mayors met at the 2007 Mayors Climate Summit, the flowering of the Mayors Climate Potection Agreement, the initiative Seattle mayor Greg Nickels began in 2005 to commit to reduce his city’s emissions. More than 700 mayors have since joined the agreement. Al Gore (by satellite), Bill Clinton, and Michael Bloomberg addressed the summit. As reported by The New York Times:
Part pep rally, part policy discussion, the conference presented two main themes: the federal government must do more than the Bush administration has done to fight global warming; and in the meantime, cities must take up the slack.

Spurred by Mayor Greg Nickels of Seattle, more than 700 mayors have signed a pledge to reduce their cities’ emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases to levels laid out in the Kyoto Protocol. That treaty, signed by the United States but never ratified by the Senate, called for reducing such emissions 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

Mr. Nickels issued a report this week showing that Seattle had already exceeded that goal. On Friday, he listed city initiatives like promoting locally produced foods, distributing 300,000 high-efficiency shower heads and encouraging residents to trade in their gasoline-powered mowers for electric or nonmotorized versions. But it helps that Seattle gets its power from hydroelectric dams, not coal or natural gas.

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