Friday, December 14, 2007

Scaled-Down Energy Bill Passes 86-8; House Will Follow

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We wish all of our subscribers & readers the best throughout the Holiday season
and wish you a healthy and prosperous New Year.

Dec 13: After Democrats finally conceded to dropping both the renewable electric standard (RES) and multi-billion tax package on the oil and gas industry; the Senate was finally able to approve the scaled-down version of the comprehensive energy bill (H.R. 6) at about 6:25 PM. Seven Republicans and one Democrat, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), ultimately voted against the measure. Six Senators did not vote, including five presidential candidate that were on the campaign trail: Biden (D-DE); Clinton (D-NY); Dodd (D-CT); Hagel (R-NE); McCain (R-AZ); and Obama (D-IL). An attempt earlier in the day to pass a bill that excluded the RES but retained the tax package failed to gain the necessary 60 votes; and failed to pass by one vote -- 59-40 [See WIMS 12/13/07]. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said the House will pass the bill next week and send it to the President.

U.S. Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), Ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, predicted earlier when the Senate defeated the first attempt to pass the bill that elimination of the RES and tax package would "save the energy bill from a likely veto by President Bush." Speaker Pelosi immediately issued a release following the Senate vote praising its passage and said, "The vote by the Senate to overwhelmingly pass historic and sweeping energy security legislation is great news for American consumers worried about the price of gas at the pump. It sends a message to world leadersmeeting in Bali that the United States is serious about addressing global warming. And it meets our moral obligation to build a better future for our children."

Speaker Pelosi continued, "This legislation includes an historic increase in fuel efficiency standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 -- the first such action in 32 years. It makes a major commitment to homegrown biofuels, sending our energy dollars to the Midwest, not the Middle East. It sets our nation on a new course -- a new direction for energy security. The House will pass this remarkable legislation next week; I am hopeful that President Bush will sign it."

The Speaker also released a brief summary of key provisions, saying the bill would: reduce our dependence on foreign oil; strengthen national security; lower energy costs for consumers; create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and strengthen our economy; and reduce global warming; increase the fuel efficiency of vehicles to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 (CAFE); save American families $700 to $1,000 per year at the pump; produce $22 billion in net annual consumer savings in 2020; reduce greenhouse gas emissions equal to taking 28 million cars and trucks off the road; expand American-grown biofuels (Renewable Fuels Standard) to 36 billion gallons in 2022; slash U.S. oil consumption by more than 4 million barrels per day by 2030 (more than twice our daily imports from the Persian Gulf); produce up to 24 percent of the cut in greenhouse gas emissions needed by 2030; save consumers more than $400 billion through new energy efficiency standards for appliances, lighting and buildings through 2030; creates hundreds of thousands of jobs; promotes massive development of biofuels; spurs cutting-edge energy research; prepare workers for 3 million new "green" jobs over the next 10 years; and promote small businesses as renewable energy leaders.

Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) praised the bill passage which included provisions they wrote to help small businesses increase their energy efficiency and "hold the Bush Administration accountable for failing to help small businesses reduce their dependency on fossil fuels." They said the bill would: require the Small Business Administration (SBA) to implement within 90 days an energy efficiency program that was mandated in the 2005 Energy Policy Act; establish an audit program to increase energy efficiency using Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs); promote financing agreements between small businesses and utility companies to increase energy efficiency; create a telecommuting pilot program at the SBA responsible for educational materials and outreach to small businesses on the benefits of telecommuting; allow small businesses conducting energy efficiency or renewable energy research and development to be given priority consideration in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs; and establish loans for small firms to invest in use of renewable sources of energy in their business.

Many other groups and organizations issued releases on the bills passage. WIMS has included links to a sampling of some of the releases below.

Access the roll-call vote (
click here). Access legislative details for H.R. 6 (click here). Access a release from Speaker Pelosi (click here). Access a release from Senators Kerry and Snowe (click here). Access a supporting release from Securing America's Future Energy's (SAFE's) Energy Security Leadership Council (ESLC, click here); Access a supporting release from Toyota (click here). Access a supporting release from National Wildlife Federation (click here). Access a supporting release from Senator Boxer (D-CA) (click here). [*Energy, *Climate]

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Senate Republicans Reject Dems Energy Bill Compromise

Dec 13: On December 12, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced a revised energy bill and indicated the Senate would vote on the revised bill on Thursday, December 13. He said the substitute bill addresses Republicans’ concerns "by reluctantly eliminating the Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) and modifying the energy tax provisions." The measure was an attempt to compromise on differences expressed following the Senate vote that halted consideration of the House-passed energy bill on December 7 [See WIMS 12/7/07].

Senator Reid said, “Democrats remain committed to passing a bill that lowers gas prices, helps break our addiction to oil, begins to reverse global warming and creates jobs by investing in renewable energy. We are ready to take a first step toward a clean energy revolution in America that ripples throughout the world, and I hope Senators will find the common ground to take that step. Republicans oppose a national standard for utilities to supply clean, renewable electricity that would reduce the cost of our natural gas and electricity bills by as much as $18 billion and create many new jobs.

"We are reluctantly removing that provision, as well as making several changes to the energy tax provisions, in the genuine pursuit of progress. This is an opportunity for Republicans to stand with Americans who are paying more than ever at the pump, instead of with the big oil companies who are raking in record profits. I hope that Republicans will recognize the importance of this legislation to their states and the country, and I am hopeful that we will reach the 60 votes necessary to send this bill to the House and the President before the end of the year.”

On December 13, the Senate voted and the compromise measure failed obtain the 60 votes required in a cloture vote by one vote -- 59-40. Just prior to the defeating vote, Senator Reid again made a plea for support of the compromise and said, "The White House has objected to our provisions requiring the major oil and gas companies to part with $10 billion or $15 billion of the tax breaks that they are scheduled to receive over the next 10 years. But let’s be clear. Our bill eliminates those tax breaks for Big Oil – an industry raking in record profits of half a trillion dollars in the last six years -- so that we can invest more in clean energy. Plus, the tax title will provide money for the Secure Rural Schools program as well as at least one year full funding for the Payments in Lieu of Taxes program. As many of my colleagues in the West know, these are important programs for rural counties that have excessive Federal land ownership.

“Democrats and Republicans alike should agree that even without the Renewable Electricity Standard we have an energy bill that will reduce energy costs, begin to break our addiction to oil, and reverse the threat of global warming. This is still an important and historic bill, and I am happy to support it. I ask that all of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle hear the call of the American people for lower energy costs, less oil consumption and a cleaner environment -- and send this historic energy bill to the President’s desk. This could be the first step toward an energy revolution that starts in America that ripples throughout the world. I hope Senators will find the common ground to take that first step.”

U.S. Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), Ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, issued a statement on the Senate’s defeating vote and said that it would "save the energy bill from a likely veto by President Bush." Senator Domenici said, “Today’s vote was very close, but the outcome will likely save the energy bill for this year. By rejecting the nearly $22 billion in tax increases added to this bill, the Senate will instead go back to work on a package that contains the right priorities and can be signed into law. I have said all along that an energy bill which included stronger CAFE (fuel economy) standards, a Renewable Fuels Standard, and improvements to our energy efficiency could pass Congress and be signed into law. I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to finish our work on the energy bill soon.”

The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) issued a statement saying, “Forty senators today blocked energy bill measures that would have closed a $13 billion tax loophole for the oil industry and invested that money in renewable energy. Forty senators lined up behind big oil companies, instead of American families. Oil companies have contributed $8 million to senators over the past four years.”

Access the two statements from Senator Reid (
click here); and (click here). Access the statement from Senator Domenici (click here). Access a link to the roll call vote (click here). Access the NWF statement (click here). [*Energy, *Climate]

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

UN Head Says World Is Counting On Bali Breakthrough

Dec 12: The world is counting on a breakthrough at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told delegates at the summit, calling the fight against global warming “the moral challenge of our generation.” In a speech delivered on Wednesday morning in the South-East Asian nation, at the opening of the Conference’s "high-level segment," he said that “what the world expects from Bali -- from all of you -- is an agreement to launch negotiations towards a comprehensive climate change agreement.”

Ban underscored the importance of creating a road map to tackle climate change and a timeline to produce a new agreement by 2009 so that it can enter into force after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. He said, “Let us turn the climate crisis into a climate compact." He told the delegates that they have been given a “clear charge” by the world to produce a breakthrough. He said, “Not only are the eyes of the world upon us -- more important, succeeding generations depend on us. We cannot rob our children of their future.”

Climate change affects those least equipped to cope and those least responsible the hardest, the Secretary-General pointed out. He said, “We have an ethical obligation to right this injustice. We have a duty to protect the most vulnerable.” The Secretary-General urged developed countries to continue taking the lead in slashing emissions, while developing nations need incentives to curb their own release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. He said, “Together, we can spur a new era of green economics, an era of truly sustainable development based on clean technology and a low-emission technology. The costs of inaction -- in ecological, human and financial terms -- far exceed the costs of action now. Every UN agency, fund and programme is committed. We are determined to be a part of the answer to climate change.”

According to another UN release, the final details on an innovative fund to help developing countries adapt to climate change were agreed upon by countries attending the Conference, ahead of its high-level portion. The fund is expected to provide $80 million to $300 million annually for adaptation between 2008 and 2012, which is also the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. The fund does not rely on voluntary contributions, but rather on a 2 per cent levy on each Certified Emission Reduction credit issued for Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects in developing countries.

Other issues in Bali that are still unresolved include reducing emissions from deforestation, the implementation of practical adaptation actions and the transfer of clean technologies to developing countries. Countries are also still in discussions over the issue of including emissions reduction targets in a final agreement. Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said the proposed 25-40% range of reductions proposed by 2020 is a "range and not a target." He said, "This range does not represent concrete emission reduction targets for industrialized countries and this conference will not produce an agreement on specific targets per country” Instead, he explained, what the Bali meeting aims to achieve, is to set the wheels in motion for launching a process. The European Union has supported the inclusion of the target while the U.S. has opposed it and countries are still discussing the issue.

Access a release on the Secretary General's speech (
click here). Access the complete speech (click here). Access a UN release on the Fund and the reduction range (click here). Access the UN Climate Change gateway for links to extensive information (click here). Access a speech from Stavros Dimas Member of the European Commission (click here). Access links to the U.S. Department of State briefings and releases at the Conference (click here). Access the UNFCCC COP13/MOP3 website for additional details (click here). Access a December 11 environmental group briefing on the Conference (click here). [*Climate]

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Political Interference With Government Climate Change Science

Dec 10: For the past 16 months, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Chaired by Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA), has been investigating allegations of political interference with government climate change science under the Bush Administration. During the course of this investigation, the Committee obtained over 27,000 pages of documents from the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Commerce Department, held two investigative hearings, and deposed or interviewed key officials. Much of the information made available to the Committee has never been publicly disclosed.

A proposed report, released on December 10, presents the findings of the Committee’s investigation. According to an announcement released by the Committee, "The evidence before the Committee leads to one inescapable conclusion: the Bush Administration has engaged in a systematic effort to manipulate climate change science and mislead policymakers and the public about the dangers of global warming."

According to the announcement, in 1998, the American Petroleum Institute developed an internal “Communications Action Plan” that stated: “Victory will be achieved when … average citizens ‘understand’ uncertainties in climate science … [and] recognition of uncertainties becomes part of the ‘conventional wisdom.’” The announcement says, "The Bush Administration has acted as if the oil industry’s communications plan were its mission statement. White House officials and political appointees in the agencies censored congressional testimony on the causes and impacts of global warming, controlled media access to government climate scientists, and edited federal scientific reports to inject unwarranted uncertainty into discussions of climate change and to minimize the threat to the environment and the economy.

"The White House exerted unusual control over the public statements of federal scientists on climate change issues. It was standard practice for media requests to speak with federal scientists on climate change matters to be sent to CEQ for White House approval. By controlling which government scientists could respond to media inquiries, the White House suppressed dissemination of scientific views that could conflict with Administration policies. The White House also edited congressional testimony regarding the science of climate change."

The announcement highlights the recent climate change testimony of Dr. Julie Gerberding, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Thomas Karl, the Director of National Climatic Data Center, who appeared before the House Oversight Committee a year earlier and says that their testimony was heavily edited by both White House officials and political appointees at the Commerce Department. It says there was a systematic White House effort to minimize the significance of climate change by editing climate change reports. It indicates the White House insisted on edits to EPA’s draft Report on the Environment that were so extreme that the EPA Administrator opted to eliminate the climate change section of the report. In the case of EPA’s Air Trends Report, CEQ went beyond editing and simply vetoed the entire climate change section of the report. And, despite objections from EPA, CEQ insisted on repeating an unsupported assertion that millions of American jobs would be lost if the Kyoto Protocol were ratified.

The White House Press Secretary, Dana Perino, who said she had not seen the report but heard reports of it, responded saying, "I think that it's inescapable that they issued this report on a day when they knew that the United States would be represented at the Bali conference, where we are currently talking about the next step for a framework after 2012, which is when Kyoto would end... I would submit to you, having worked on these issues for a long time, that it's rehashed rhetoric that has come out of the Democrats beforehand, and we just reject it as being untrue." In response to a question stating, Did the White House ever asked employees at agencies like NOAA to suppress climate change information and science?; Perino said, "Not that I'm aware and I do not believe that is true. "

Access the announcement (click here). Access the 37-page proposed report (click here). Access the White House press briefing that contains the Press Secretary's comments (click here). [*Climate]

Monday, December 10, 2007

Power Plant Carbon Capture Will Vastly Increase Water Use

Dec 6: The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has released a 2007 update to its groundbreaking study, Estimating Freshwater Needs to Meet Future Thermoelectric Generation Requirements. The updated analysis increases understanding of regional and national water needs and usage in the power industry, and provides input for research and development aimed at water-use reduction.

It is important to understand the difference in the terminology -- withdrawal v. consumption. The water required for thermoelectric plants is "withdrawn" primarily from large volume sources, such as lakes, rivers, oceans, and underground aquifers. While both freshwater (approximately 70%) and saline water (approximately 30%) are currently used for thermoelectric generation, the report focuses on freshwater because freshwater sources are becoming increasingly strained. Water "consumption" is used to describe the loss of that water, typically through evaporation into the air.

New in this year's report is a response to heightened concerns over atmospheric carbon dioxide. The report examines the possibility that future policies to combat climate change may result in the addition of carbon capture technologies to many coal-fired power plants by 2030. Since these technologies require additional water, the 2007 report includes case study scenarios that predict how much water may be needed by power plants when carbon capture technology is installed.

NETL notes that water has become a pivotal issue in the Nation since economic development hinges on the availability of freshwater. Public water systems, agriculture, power generation, and other industries all compete for limited regional water supplies. Although the power industry is only responsible for around three percent of the freshwater "consumed" in the United States, it accounts for nearly 40 percent of "withdrawals." Recently, construction of new power plants had to be shelved because water-use permits could not be obtained, and insufficient supplies of water due to extended drought and population growth have resulted in a reduction in plant output in several regions of the country.

The new analysis examines five separate future cases using NETL's Water Use Projections Model and projections for regional electricity demand and capacity from the Energy Information Administration's Annual Energy Outlook 2007. Like the 2006 report, the new report predicts freshwater withdrawal and consumption by thermoelectric plants regionally and nationally, by decade, through 2030. Four of the five cases presented in the 2007 report predict that, on a national basis, water withdrawals by the power industry will decrease. On average, water withdrawals by thermoelectric plants are projected to decline more than 3.5 percent. However, water consumption by thermoelectric plants is predicted to grow. By 2030, the average expected increase is 35.7 percent.

On a regional basis, water withdrawal projections for thermoelectric plants range from a 42 percent increase in the Northwest, to a 24 percent decline in the Rocky Mountain and southwest desert region. Freshwater consumption will increase in all regions, showing the largest gains in areas where the population is expected to increase the most - New York: 396 percent, California: 274 percent, and Florida: 250 percent.

According to the report, when carbon capture technologies are added to coal-fired power plants, water withdrawal nationally is projected to increase from 4.1 to 6.0 billion gallons per day, with an average projected increase of water withdrawal of seven percent. Water consumption is expected to rise from 2.2 to 4.3 billion gallons per day. The average increase of water consumption from all cases with carbon capture is 90 percent.

NETL is working to reduce water usage by fossil-fuel-fired power plants through their Innovations for Existing Plants program. The program's goals are to enhance the efficiency and environmental performance of existing coal-fired power plants and to apply novel concepts to advanced power systems. NETL recently joined with Sandia National Laboratories through a memorandum of understanding to advance research, development, demonstration, and, ultimately, the commercialization of technologies to reduce freshwater usage related to thermoelectric power production while minimizing its impact on water quality.

The report indicates, "At the nexus of water and energy lies a wide variety of societal issues, policy and regulatory debate, environmental questions, technological challenges, and economic concerns. Water is emerging as a significant factor in economic development activities. Planning efforts must consider the availability and quality of water resources in a given locality or region to ensure that supplies are available to accommodate existing and future water consumers over the long term. Failure to do so can result in stunted growth, economic flight, inequitable development, and even open conflict. In order for the power industry to be ecologically responsible, technologically ready, and economically stable, advanced research is imperative. Energy-water issues have become increasingly visible in recent years, with a variety of concerns on the mind of industry, regulators, Congress, DOE, and the general public... current trends indicate that demands on the nation’s supplies are growing while the nation’s capacity to store surface-water is increasingly more limited and ground-water is being depleted. Water availability issues are intensified by the fact that population increases are occurring in water-stressed areas..."

Access a release from NETL (click here). Access the 107-page updated report (click here). Access the NETL website on Water-Energy Interface for Power Plant Water Management (click here). [*Energy, *Water, *Climate]

Friday, December 07, 2007

Senate Stops Energy Independence And Security Act 53-42

Dec 7: Vowing to work over the weekend on a compromise to resolve differences in the House-passed energy bill, the Senate brought a quick halt to the momentum to pass comprehensive energy legislation -- the Energy Independence and Security Act .

With harsh criticism from Republicans, and threats of a veto from the White House, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 235-181 to pass the comprehensive House-Senate "compromise" energy bill. The bill is a mix of the Senate passed H.R. 6, which passed on June 21 [See WIMS 6/22/07] and H.R. 3221, that passed the House on August 4 [See WIMS 8/4/07]. The compromise bill, which was negotiated without a Conference Committee, temporarily took the form of H.Res.846, and has now become the new version of H.R. 6. In the end, the bill which is being called bipartisan by Democrats received 221 Democratic votes and 14 Republican votes. Seven Democrats voted against the bill along with 174 Republicans. Sixteen members did not vote on the bill -- 11 Republicans and 5 Democrats.

The Senate began its consideration of H.R. 6 bill for final adoption early on December 7, and quickly voted on a cloture motion which was unable to obtain the necessary 60 votes (53-42) and thus has temporarily suspended Senate floor action on the bill. Democrats voting against the cloture vote included: Bayh (D-IN); Byrd (D-WV); and Landrieu (D-LA). Republicans voting for the cloture motion included: Collins (R-ME); Thune (R-SD). Both Independents, Sanders (I-VT) and Lieberman (ID-CT), voted for the cloture motion. Five Republicans did not vote on the measure.

Following passage in the House, Senator Pete Dominici (R-NM), Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee issued a statement outlining many Senate Republican issues with the bill. Domenici indicated that he spent weeks negotiating with Democrats in the House and Senate to draft a bipartisan energy bill that contained a Renewable Fuel Standard, strengthened CAFE standards, and provided for energy efficiency improvements. However, he said, "after agreement had been reached on most issues, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi backed out of the deal, and inserted several costly and controversial measures into the energy bill."

Domenici said, "...the Senate will be asked to pass a bill that was drafted behind closed doors by a select few House Democrats. The process by which this bill has been drafted is unprecedented. The Senate should not be forced to accept a bill written by Speaker Pelosi behind closed doors with no input from the Senate. For that reason alone, Senators should oppose this legislation and insist to be heard. I will do everything in my power to defeat this measure so we can get to work on a bipartisan bill that will tackle our problems, not add to them.

"Unlike the agreement reached by House and Senate negotiators, the House bill contains a one-size-fits-all Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) which would mandate that 15% of our nation’s electricity supply come from renewable sources. However, many states, particularly those in the Southeast, lack the natural resources to meet the standard. As a result, utilities in those states would be forced to pay billions in fines, leading to higher electricity costs for consumers. Industry estimates put the cost of the House RPS proposal at over $95 billion by 2030.

"The Pelosi energy bill also contains $21 billion in tax increases on domestic oil and natural gas production. Over $13 billion of that total is achieved by repealing provisions in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 which make it easier for American companies to compete in the global oil market, which is dominated by Saudi, Russian, and Chinese state-owned companies. By increasing the cost of doing business for American companies, the House energy bill will lead to higher prices at the pump and could result in an increased reliance on foreign oil.

"The House bill also significantly weakens the Renewable Fuels Standard by allowing for the EPA Administrator to completely cancel the mandate after 2016, which will create uncertainty in the market. The House also seeks to punish ethanol because it is transported in trucks, by including transportation and land-usage as factors in the requirement that biofuels have 20% lower greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum it displaces."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the floor in support for the Energy Independence and Security Act just prior to final passage and said "...this is a very important day for our country." She said, “This vote on this legislation will be a shot heard ‘round the world for energy independence for America." She thanked may Representatives who contributed to the passage with a special thanks to Representative John Dingell (D-MI), Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, who was largely responsible for the deal struck on Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.

She said, “This is about our national security, it’s about jobs and the economic security of our country, it’s about the environment, therefore it’s a health issue, and it’s a moral issue. That’s why we have scientists and evangelicals. We have business and labor. We have the environmental community all strongly supporting this legislation." She indicated that over 20 generals have signed a letter saying that "we have to move in this direction in terms of reversing global warming."

She said that consumers will save $700 to $1,000 as a result of this bill per year resulting in $22 billion by 2020. She said, “It’s an historic day because it’s been so long since we have come to a place where we are, as has been said, over 30 years since we have addressed this issue in this substantial way in the Congress of the United States. The point of this is, ‘Are we about the past or are we about the future?’ I hope that we can have strong bipartisan support for this legislation. We were able to accomplish in this 12-month period, as Mr. Emanuel said, what was not done in 32 years in the Congress of United States."

In her previous letter to Allan Hubbard, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council, responding to White House concerns about the bill [See WIMS 12/6/07], Pelosi had indicated the legislation contains an ambitious national renewable fuel standard that will significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil; it reforms and strengthens the CAFE fuel economy standard for cars and trucks, setting a tight goal of 35 miles per gallon as a fleetwide average by 2020; and increase domestic energy production by promoting homegrown renewable fuels and domestic renewable energy. She said specifically the legislation would not: affect our relations with other countries; not impose price controls; and not significantly expand the application of Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements. She said it includes provisions to "pay for our investments in domestic renewable energy resources by closing tax loopholes given to large oil and gas companies at a time that they are reporting record profits." And, the legislation contains a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) which requires states to derive a percentage of their energy from renewable sources.

With a much different point of view, Republican's were harshly critical of the bill and called the "bipartisan" claims a mystery. Representative Joe Barton (R-TX), Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee said, “The bill before us is a change. It may be historic but it is not positive. We are moving from a market-based energy policy, which has served this economy well for over 150 years to a government-mandated energy policy mandating 36 billion gallons of biofuels which don’t exist and probably won’t exist.

“We are mandating that 15 percent of all investor-owned utilities be generated by renewable means where in some states that is physically impossible. We are mandating that we improve automobile fuel economy to 35 miles per gallon by a date certain, which while technically feasible, is going to be very expensive and probably raise the average price of an automobile several thousands of dollars. We are mandating all of these things in the interests of energy security, which is a noble goal but I think we would be better off developing the domestic resources of our great land, just like it says up there in the quote from Daniel Webster, instead of engaging in government mandates which will raise costs and probably not increase supply.”

Following the failed cloture vote, Senator Dominici issued a second release saying, "Now that we’ve rejected this one-sided bill, I hope that the Senate can now go back to the agreement that we originally reached with the House. Much of the hard work has already been done. An energy bill that contains a CAFE compromise, a strong Renewable Fuels Standard, and energy efficiency improvements is the right approach, and I’m willing to go back to work on such a bill right away.”

Access a release and the letter from Speaker Pelosi (click here). Access legislative details for H.Res.846 (click here). Access links to the full text of House Report 110-474 (click here). Access the summary of House amendments to the Senate amendments to H.R. 6 (click here). Access legislative details for H.R. 6 (click here). Access the House roll call vote on the final passage (click here). Access the statement from Senator Domenici (click here). Access a second release from Senator Domenici (click here). Access the Senate roll call vote on cloture (click here). [*Energy, *Climate]

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Full Senate EPW Committee Approves Climate Security Act

Dec 5: Following a marathon, nearly 10-hour markup session that extended into the evening hours, the full Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), Chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), approved S. 2191, the Lieberman Warner Climate Security Act [See WIMS 12/5/07, & 11/2/07]. The final vote on approval was 11-8, with all eight Democrats voting for the bill, two Independents voting for the bill, and one Republican, sponsor Senator Warner voting for the bill. The bill will now be considered before the full Senate.

Chairman Boxer issued a brief statement saying, "The vote of the Environment and Public Works Committee in favor of the Climate Security Act was a historic moment for our country and for my Committee. For me, it was the greatest legislative accomplishment of my political career of thirty years. Finally, America is taking bold steps to avert the catastrophe that awaits our children and grandchildren if we do nothing.

"Our bill has two fight global warming and to do it in a way that keeps our economy strong. That will be my focus in the coming weeks and months as we move the bill forward to the Senate floor. This bill is the most far reaching global warming bill in the world and I am grateful to Senators Lieberman and Warner for breaching the partisan divide and unleashing a spirit of cooperation that puts the wind at our backs."

Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) also issued a brief statement indicating, “Today, the Senate took a giant and historic step forward toward reversing a clear and present danger to our planet. By adopting America’s Climate Security Act, the Environment and Public Works Committee, sent a powerful message that will be heard across the country and around the world -- America is now truly in the fight to combat global warming. I would like to thank Senator Boxer for her effective leadership on this legislation and Senator Warner for his dedicated partnership in bringing about this significant victory.

“We still have a challenging effort ahead of us on the Senate floor, but the momentum is clearly in favor of taking action on climate change before the end of the 110th Congress. In the coming months, I believe that you will see a wave of support and pressure to pass this legislation when it comes to the Senate floor next year. The message that came out of this Committee is that there will be no more denying, no more waiting, and no more equivocating when it comes to addressing this threat to the future of our planet.”

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and outspoken opponent of global warming legislation issued a more lengthy statement saying, “For the first time in history, a fatally flawed global warming cap-and-trade bill was passed out of committee. Not only is the entire cap-and-trade approach fatally flawed, but the Lieberman-Warner bill failed to improve today, as Democrat amendments were added. Instead of engaging in substantive debate, the Democrats’ chose to simply reject all serious efforts to mitigate the unintended consequences of this bill and ensure adequate future energy supplies for this nation.

“The rejection of key amendments has guaranteed an enormous floor fight as many major issues were side-stepped. While the vote today was never in question, it did provide an opportunity for Republicans to expose the serious deficiencies of this bill. The full Senate now needs to look at a cost-benefit analysis of this bill. It is simply all economic pain for no climate gain. Numerous analyses have placed the costs at trillions of dollars. Even if you accept the dire claims of man-made global warming, this bill would not have a measurable impact on the climate.

“Within seven years, electricity prices are estimated to skyrocket 35 to 65 percent and will have a huge economic hit on households. These costs are far greater than the McCain-Lieberman bill that was voted down by the Senate two years ago. Additionally, the poor will be the hardest hit as they pay about five times more per month, as a percentage of their monthly expenditures, compared to wealthier Americans. By 2015 this bill is estimated to cost up to 2.3 million jobs, and these lost jobs will go to China, India, and other emerging nations without carbon limits..."

Access a release from Senator Boxer (
click here). Access a release from Senator Lieberman (click here). Access a release from Senator Inhofe (click here). Access the hearing website for a links to the complete webcast and opening statements (click here). Access legislative details on S. 2191 (click here). Access a release from the National Wildlife Federation supporting (click here). Access a release from the Natural Resources Defense Council supporting (click here). Access a release from Environmental Defense supporting (click here). Access a release from the National Association of Manufacturers opposing (click here) [*Climate]

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Groups & Governments Petition For Action On Aviation Emissions

Dec 5: A coalition of environmental groups, states and regional governments filed petitions with the U.S. EPA urging the Agency to address the effects of vast amounts of global warming pollution from the world's aircraft fleet. The petitions are the first step in a process that requires the EPA to evaluate the current impacts of aircraft emissions, seek public comment and develop rules to reduce aircraft emissions or explain why it will not act. Earthjustice, the public interest environmental firm, filed the environmental groups' petition on behalf of Friends of the Earth, Oceana and the Center for Biological Diversity. Also filing petitions are the States of California, Connecticut, New Jersey and New Mexico and the District of Columbia through their Attorneys General, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through its Department of Environmental Protection, the City of New York through its Corporation Counsel, and the South Coast Air Quality Management District through its District Counsel.

According to a release from Earthjustice, aircraft emit huge amounts of carbon dioxide. They currently account for 12 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. transportation sources and three percent of the United States' total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The U.S. is responsible for nearly half of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft. Aircraft also emit nitrogen oxides, known as NOx, which contribute to the formation of ozone, another greenhouse gas (GHG). Emissions of NOx at high altitudes result in greater concentrations of ozone than ground-level emissions. Aircraft also emit water vapor at high altitude that forms condensation trails or "contrails." Contrails are visible cloud lines that form in cold, humid atmospheres and contribute to the warming impacts of aircraft emissions. Moreover, the persistent formation of contrails is associated with increased cirrus cloud cover, which also warms the Earth's surface.

The release indicates that together, these high altitude emissions have a greater global warming impact than if the emissions were released at ground-level. A recent report by the UK Royal Commission on Environmental Protection found that the net effects of ozone, contrail and aviation-induced cloud cover is likely to triple the warming effect of aircraft-emitted CO2 alone. The report concludes that if these estimates are correct and the anticipated growth in aviation realized, aviation may be responsible for between six and ten percent of the human impact on climate by the year 2050.

The petition filed asks EPA to respond within 180 days and initiate a formal process to limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from all U.S. certified aircraft and all foreign aircraft arriving in or departing from U.S. airports, which the groups say it could do by: Adopting operational measures to minimize fuel use and reduce emissions from aircraft; Requiring the use of lighter, more aerodynamic, and more energy efficient airplanes, as well as the development of even more efficient designs; and Adopting regulatory measures to create incentives for the use of cleaner jet fuels.

Access a release from Earthjustice with links to additional information including key aviation and global warming resources cited in the petition (click here). Access the petition filed by environmental groups (click here). Access a release from California Attorney General Edmund Brown Jr. and link to the states' petition (click here). [*Climate, *Air]

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Environmental Trust Releases "Taking Responsibility" Climate Report

Dec 3: Many individual states release more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than entire groups of developing countries. Forty-two U.S. states individually emit more carbon dioxide than 50 developing countries combined, and three states individually emit more CO2 than 100 developing countries. Taking Responsibility, a new report by the National Environmental Trust (NET), examines the greenhouse gas emissions of U.S. states as compared to developing countries and underscores the moral necessity for the United States to assume global leadership in ongoing efforts to craft a new post-Kyoto global climate treaty. Featuring a state by state profile of GHG emissions, the report also examines individual and collective efforts by U.S. states to reduce GHG emissions.

The report points out that the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), applying the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities,” specific ed that developed nations should be obligated to make greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions before less-polluting developing nations. Fairness decreed that developed countries -- responsible for the vast majority of historic emissions -- should have the responsibility for developing the technological solutions needed to reduce them.

Developing nations would thus have time to grow their economies, putting them in a better position to more quickly apply the technological solutions devised in the interim. This principle was upheld by the United States Senate, which ratified the 1992 UNFCCC, and has been a cornerstone of subsequent international agreements on climate change. The report says, "Unfortunately, some developed countries have begun arguing that 'differentiated responsibilities' no longer apply due to the rapid emissions increases by developing countries. They contend that binding emissions reduction goals must be undertaken by developed and developing countries alike. This argument may jeopardize efforts to create a framework for a new international agreement to stabilize the climate after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012."

As world leaders begin working on a new treaty for reducing greenhouse gases, the "report aims to provide perspective on who bears first responsibility for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It also examines commitments made by developed and developing nations, and individual U.S. states, to reduce emissions."

Access a brief announcement of the report (
click here). Access the complete 99-page report (click here). [*Climate]

Monday, December 03, 2007

Energy Bill Good News-Bad News: CAFE Compromise; RPS Stalemate

Nov 30: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) released a brief statement on energy legislation pending in Congress and an apparent agreement on the controversial issued of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. The Senate passed H.R. 6 on June 21 [See WIMS 6/22/07] and on August 4, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3221 [See WIMS 8/4/07]. The bills have been stalled by the inability to appoint a Conference Committee [See WIMS 10/22/07]. The new compromise bill is expected to be voted on this week in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Speaker Pelosi said, “CAFE will serve as the cornerstone of the energy legislation that will be on the House floor next week. We will achieve the major goal of increasing vehicle efficiency standards to 35 miles per gallon in 2020, marking an historic advancement in our efforts in the Congress to address our energy security and laying strong groundwork for climate legislation next year. We are confident that this final product will win the support of the environmental, labor and manufacturing communities. This landmark energy legislation will offer the automobile industry the certainty it needs, while offering flexibility to automakers and ensuring we keep American manufacturing jobs and continued domestic production of smaller vehicles. This comprehensive package will also include an increase in the Renewable Fuels Standard [RFS] and a Renewable Electricity Standard [RES], among other key provisions.”

On December 1, 2007, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM) President and CEO Dave McCurdy issued a statement saying, "The Alliance commends Congressional leaders for reaching agreement on an aggressive, nationwide fuel economy program. This agreement reflects much hard work and tough negotiating by many parties. Importantly, this agreement establishes nationwide fuel economy requirements for the next 12 years and beyond. Upon adoption of this legislation, Congress will have established aggressive, nationwide fuel economy requirements, concluding a longstanding debate.

"As we understand the agreement, these tough, national mileage standards merge provisions of both the Senate and House CAFE proposals. The agreement includes a number of necessary measures to help make the overall regulatory program more realistic and reasonable. Automakers are pleased that Congressional negotiators ultimately accepted the need for practical provisions like separate car and light truck standards and incentives for building more autos that run on non-petroleum-based fuels. The bill also provides mechanisms that help automakers balance the natural ups and downs of the product cycle.

"This historic legislation would not have been possible without the efforts of auto workers, dealers, suppliers, user groups and industry allies in the business community -- whose leaders and members participated in this process. One in 10 jobs in the U.S. is dependent on the auto industry. Indeed, no other industry is linked so much [to] U.S. manufacturing or generates more retail business and employment. We believe this tough, national fuel economy bill will be good for both consumers and energy security. We support its passage."

Representative John Dingell (D-MI), Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, who was instrumental in securing the CAFE deal, issued the following statement saying, "I have supported raising CAFE standards in a sensible and effective way, and I believe the agreement reached today prescribes standards that are both aggressive and attainable. After weeks of productive discussion and negotiation, we have achieved consensus on several provisions that provide critical environmental safeguards without jeopardizing American jobs." Dingell thanked Representatives Baron Hill (D-IN) and Lee Terry (R-NE) for their work on the compromise and said the deal would provide incentives to preserve approximately 17,000 domestic assembly plant jobs, and expand incentives for production of vehicles that run on biofuels such as ethanol or biodiesel.

Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), Chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and author of the 35 mile per gallon standard in the House, praised his colleague, John Dingell, for accepting this major step forward, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi for holding firm on the 35 mpg standard. Markey said, "I know this is a difficult step to take for America’s auto companies, but the status quo was helping neither our nation nor the companies themselves. I especially appreciate Chairman Dingell’s willingness to let this reform go forward at this time, with the nation heavily dependent on oil costing $90 a barrel.” Markey said that as the chief House proponent of the 35 mpg standard, he did not force a vote on the measure last summer in hopes that with the help of Speaker Pelosi and the Senate, an agreement could be reached that would unite the Democratic Caucus. He said, "This strategy now appears to be paying off."

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), an original backer of the Senate CAFE standards agreement, announced details of what she called a landmark, bipartisan agreement on CAFE standards reached by key Senate and House negotiators. Senator Feinstein said, “The House and Senate have reached an historic agreement that achieves the first major mileage efficiency increase in two decades. It will increase the mileage of the overall fleet of vehicles by 10 miles per gallon over 10 years. We have been able to reach an agreement with the House that achieves the goal of the 10-in-10 Fuel Economy Act, without affecting the integrity of the bill..."

According to the Feinstein release by 2025, the fuel economy increases for cars and light-duty trucks would: Save 1.1 million barrels of oil saved per year, or nearly half the oil imported by the United States today from the Persian Gulf. (Union of Concerned Scientists); Remove 192 million metric tons of global warming pollution in 2020, a savings that will continue to increase in subsequent years. (Union of Concerned Scientists); and Save American families $700 - $1000 per year at the pump, depending on driving habits, (based on a $3.00 gas price). By 2020, the standards are estimated to save consumers $22 billion in net consumer savings in that year alone, a savings that will continue to increase in subsequent years. The release includes details of the agreement which will require that beginning in 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will annually increase the nationwide average fleet fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks to achieve a standard of 35 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2020.

Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), Ranking Member of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee and outspoken opponent of the issued a statement on the apparent compromise saying, “From the beginning, I have been concerned that the lack of a formal conference committee would make it impossible to complete work on an energy bill that would contain the right priorities and have the votes to pass the Senate. It appears as though my fears have been well founded. For weeks, my staff, along with Senator Bingaman’s [D-NM, Chairman of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee], has been engaged in good faith negotiations with the House under a defined set of parameters laid out at the start of the process. We have made substantial bipartisan progress toward finalizing a bill. The legislation we have been working on contained a robust, much-needed Renewable Fuels Standard, important provisions on energy efficiency and carbon sequestration, and a long overdue increase in fuel economy standards. The parameters agreed to by Speaker Pelosi and communicated to us by Senate Democrats did not include a renewable portfolio standard [RPS or RES].

“It appears, however, that Speaker Pelosi has gone back on her word and chosen to go her own path on the energy bill. The inclusion of a costly, ineffective Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) will make this bill untenable for many in the Senate. RPS may not be the only deviation from the negotiated bill text, as the Speaker appears willing to take advantage of the lack of a formal conference committee process and institute other changes in the bill as she sees fit. The Speaker expects the Senate to discard a negotiated, bipartisan agreement in favor of her bill without amendment. That is no way to pass legislation and is another in a long list of reasons why Congress has lost the faith and trust of the American people...

“At this time, I have instructed my staff to cease their work on the energy bill, since the final bill apparently will not be the product of our bipartisan negotiations. As someone who has been working for 35 years to forge bipartisan, good-faith compromises on tough issues like the federal budget and energy policy, I know that your word means everything. It is particularly disappointing for me to see that such a sentiment seems to be a thing of the past."

Access a release from Speaker Pelosi (
click here). Access a release from AAM (click here). Access a release from Representative Dingell (click here). Access a release from Representative Markey (click here). Access a detailed release from Senator Feinstein (click here). Access a release from Senator Domenici (click here). [*Energy, *Climate]

Friday, November 30, 2007

12 States Sue EPA Over Toxics Release Inventory Regs

Nov 28: New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced that New York and eleven other states are suing the U.S. EPA over new regulations which they say deny the public access to information about toxic chemicals in their communities. The other states include: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Vermont. According to a release the suit seeks to overturn the weakened reporting requirements and provide the public with the access they had in the past. The states indicated that EPA rules will allow thousands of companies to avoid disclosing information to the public about the toxic chemicals they use, store, and release into the environment by rolling back chemical reporting requirements. The suite was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Case No. 07 CV 10632).

Attorney General Cuomo said, "The EPA’s new regulations rob New Yorkers -- and people across the country -- of their right to know about toxic dangers in their own backyards. Along with eleven other states throughout the nation, we will restore the public’s right to information about chemical hazards, despite the Bush administration’s best attempts to hide it.” The changes to the reporting requirements affect the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program. The TRI is the only comprehensive, publicly-available database of toxic chemical use, storage, and release in the United States. Under the TRI, companies are required to provide the EPA and the states in which the company’s facilities are located with information critical to public health and safety, and the environment. The information includes the types and amounts of toxic chemicals stored at the company’s facilities and the quantities they release into the environment.

In December 2006 [See WIMS 1/2/07], EPA issued revised regulations that the states say significantly weakened the TRI by reducing the amount of information companies must report for most of the toxic chemicals covered by the program. They said that for most toxic chemicals, the EPA’s new regulations increased by 10-fold the quantity of chemical waste a facility can generate without providing detailed TRI reports. They also said EPA also weakened TRI reporting requirements for the vast majority of the most dangerous toxic chemicals -- those that are persistent and bioaccumulative -- including chemicals such as lead and mercury. As a result, "thousands of companies can now avoid filing a complete report on harmful chemicals."

According to the release, under the former regulations, TRI information became a powerful tool used by communities to protect public health and safety, and the environment: Citizen groups used TRI data to monitor companies in their communities; State and local government entities used TRI data to track toxic chemicals; Labor organizations used TRI data to ensure the safety of their workers; Companies used the TRI program to learn of the toxic pollution they had created; this resulted in companies voluntarily reducing their toxic chemical releases by billions of pounds nationwide. "The EPA’s rollback of TRI regulations now limits the ability of labor organizations, environmental and public health advocates, community groups, and individuals to effectively monitor and respond to the presence of toxins in their communities. The EPA’s rollback particularly impacts low-income communities and communities of color, many of which are burdened with the siting of industrial facilities."

On February 6, 2007, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) held a hearing on, Oversight of Recent EPA Decisions, which included the weakening the Community’s Right to Know, Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). Witnesses testifying at the hearing included: Stephen Johnson, U.S. EPA Administrator; U.S. Government Accountability Office; Chief Counsel for Advocacy for the U.S. Small Business Association; Natural Resources Defense Council; Baltimore Glassware Decorators; American Library Association; Air Lawyer with Holland and Hart; and Professor of Medicine at University of California, San Francisco. GAO released its testimony entitled, Environmental Information: EPA Actions Could Reduce the Availability of Environmental Information to the Public (GAO-07-464T, February 6, 2007). [See the link to the eNewsUSA Blog posting below to link to the hearing website, GAO report and related information]

Access a lengthy release from Attorney General Cuomo with numerous quotes from various groups and organizations supporting the lawsuit (click here). Access the 99-page complaint filed by the 12 states (click here). Access the eNewsUSA Blog post on the Senate hearing (click here). Access EPA's TRI final "burden reduction rule" website for related background documents (click here). [*Toxics]

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Major Multi-Interest Report On GHG Reduction Options

Nov 29: McKinsey & Company and The Conference Board released a major study on the options for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the United States. Published on the eve of the thirteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-13), December 3-14, 2007, in Bali, Indonesia, the report is based on in-depth analysis of more than 250 abatement options covering the main greenhouse gas emitting sectors of the economy.

McKinsey indicates that for the first time, the report gives business leaders and policy makers a comprehensive framework for assessing the costs and benefits associated with alternate paths towards greenhouse gas abatement. The analysis suggests that the United States can make substantial progress towards lowering emissions at manageable costs to the economy, if early action is taken. The report was produced in association with DTE Energy, Environmental Defense, Honeywell, National Grid, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), PG&E, and Shell.

The Conference Board, the world's preeminent business membership and research organization, best known for the Consumer Confidence Index and the Leading Economic Indicators, said it hopes the report will "stimulate an important national dialogue, one that is based on facts, analysis and quantitative metrics. And we will need to be prepared for an enduring dialogue fueled by continuing research, because the issues and choices we face are complex."

McKinsey & Company notes in the Executive Summary, "the costs and benefits of greenhouse gas abatement will for some period of time be shared unequally among stakeholders, and this will likely cause a great deal of contention." The Conference Board said it does not advocate any particular policy direction, nor does it suggest ways in which these contentious choices can be resolved. But, they said, "we do argue -- forcefully -- that creating a common base of facts and a clear analytical framework will help better inform the business community, policy makers and the public at large to make better choices. We look forward to helping achieve this goal."

McKinsey & Company indicates that over the past 2 years, it has worked with leading institutions and experts to develop a framework and fact base to understand the costs and potentials of different options for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – first at a global level, then through country-specific analyses for major GHG-emitting nations. In February 2007, we launched the U.S. Greenhouse Gas Abatement Mapping Initiative (US GHG AMI) in collaboration with leading U.S.-based companies and environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Our effort examined opportunities to reduce GHG emissions from human activity within U.S. borders using tested approaches and high-potential emerging technologies. This report is the product of that work.

Among the main findings of the report, Reducing US Greenhouse Gas Emissions: How Much at What Cost?, are:

  • Opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are highly fragmented and widely spread across the economy. The largest single option -- carbon capture and storage (CCS) for coal-fired power plants -- offers less than 11 percent of total potential identified. The largest sector, power generation, accounts for less than one third of the total.
  • Reducing emissions by 3 gigatons of CO2e in 2030 would require $1.1 trillion of additional capital spending, or roughly 1.5 percent of the $77 trillion in real investment the U.S. economy is expected to make over this period.
  • Investment would need to be higher in the early years, in order to capture energy efficiency gains at lowest overall costs and accelerate the development of key technologies, and would be highly concentrated in the power and transportation sectors.
  • If pursued, such investment would likely put upward pressure on electricity prices and vehicle costs. Policymakers would need to weigh these added costs against the energy efficiency savings, opportunities for technological advances, and other societal benefits.

The report identifies what it calls the "Central Conclusion Of This Report" as: "The United States could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 by 3.0 to 4.5 gigatons of CO2e using tested approaches and high-potential emerging technologies. These reductions would involve pursuing a wide array of abatement options available at marginal costs less than $50 per ton, with the average net cost to the economy being far lower if the nation can capture sizable gains from energy efficiency. Achieving these reductions at the lowest cost to the economy, however, will require strong, coordinated, economy-wide action that begins in the near future."

NRDC issued a release saying the report offers the most comprehensive assessment to date of the options and opportunities for cutting U.S. global warming emissions to levels that experts say are needed to avert costly and dangerous environmental damages. Using detailed pricing and technological analyses for more than 250 different measures, the study concludes that the needed results are achievable at little or no net cost to the economy, provided we act now. NRDC said the report strongly emphasizes that policy, rather than technology itself, is the key to moving cleaner, more efficient solutions off the shelves, out of the labs, and into the marketplace.

Environmental Defense issued a statement saying, "The independent analysis drew on actual industrial experience, assumed that consumer behavior and preferences would remain in line with current trends, and did not assume major technological breakthroughs... [and] found that emissions reductions along the lines of climate change legislation pending in Congress can be achieved by 2030 with proven and emerging technologies, and that nearly 40 percent of 250 potential emissions reductions opportunities would more than pay for themselves and create net savings for the economy."

National Grid, the company that delivers electricity to approximately 3.3 million customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island, and manages the electricity network on Long Island under an agreement with the Long Island Power Authority issued a release saying, "We are pleased to have sponsored this important and thorough analysis. It is vital that corporations and policymakers immediately start working together to tackle the challenge of global warming. Doing nothing is no longer an option - greenhouse gas emissions will continue to rise, resulting in more damage to the environment and even greater costs when we inevitably come to address the problem. We believe energy efficiency programs are the best way to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions. The report gives business leaders and policy makers the first comprehensive framework for prioritizing the most cost effective options to cut greenhouse gas emissions. By covering the main GHG emitting sectors, this report gives decision makers the information they need to craft cost effective policy initiatives. The analysis suggests that the U.S. can substantially cut emissions at a manageable cost to the economy and that energy efficiency has an important part to play. Many efficiency options will pay for themselves, significantly reducing CO2 emissions at no cost to the economy."

Access an announcement from The Conference Board (
click here). Access a link to the complete 107-page report (click here), registration requested). Access a release from NRDC (click here). Access a release from Environmental Defense (click here). Access the release from the National Grid (click here). Access The Conference Board Center for Corporate Citizenship & Sustainability for additional information (click here). [Note: Other companies including: DTE Energy, Honeywell, PG&E, and Shell has not issued press statements or releases at press time.] [*Climate]

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Representatives Object To EPA Proposed Comparable Fuel Exclusion

Nov 26: Twenty-five members of Congress, led by Representatives Mark Kirk (R-IL), Hilda L. Solis (D-CA), have sent a letter to U.S. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson expressing "serious concerns" over EPA's proposed rule of June 15, 2007, that would expand the RCRA "Comparable Fuel Exclusion [72 FR 33284, 6/15/07]. The Members said, "This rule seeks to expand by more than eight times the current amount of hazardous waste reclassified as Comparable Fuel and excluded from all hazardous waste regulations. With an expansion of this magnitude, it is imperative that all relevant information be made available to the public so that potentially affected communities are afforded the right to comment on such a serious proposal..."

The Members indicate that in issuing the proposed rule, EPA never made available the exact facilities expected to handle and dispose of the deregulated waste. They said, "This information was released only after the comment period ended. The communities surrounding these eighty-six facilities were unaware that the rule would directly affect them and should be allowed to comment in light of this new information."

A release by the public interest law firm, Earthjustice states that EPA plan would "reclassify over 100,000 tons of hazardous waste, allowing many companies to use this waste as fuel rather than handle it as dangerous hazardous waste. The result is that many companies will burn this waste onsite, instead of sending it to a strictly controlled hazardous waste incinerator." They said that 90% of the companies that would be able to burn this hazardous waste onsite have been identified by EPA as needing "corrective action" for not fully complying with existing federal hazardous waste management regulations.

Congressman Kirk said, "The communities that would see increases in toxic pollutants were not notified until after the EPA comment period ended. This is particularly alarming, given that the EPA's own best-case estimates indicate the waste could release more pollutants than the combustion of fossil fuels. The 86 communities affected nationwide have a right to voice their concerns to this plan." Congresswoman Solis said, "By failing to reveal information about the location of facilities likely to burn hazardous waste, the EPA knowingly denied communities the chance to comment. Communities such as those in Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley deserve an opportunity to participate in the process, particularly when their health and their environment are at risk. I urge the EPA to re-open this comment period and hope they will listen closely to the concerns of environmental justice communities across this country."

Earthjustice attorneys filed a Freedom of Information Act request that ultimately forced EPA to finally divulged the data. Earthjustice attorney Lisa Evans said, "The gamble that EPA is taking with people's lives to make it easier for companies to burn more hazardous waste is simply wrong. EPA itself freely admits that they cannot guarantee burning this waste will have little or no adverse impact." Earthjustice said the so-called "emission-comparable fuels" rule is another EPA discretionary rulemaking in a "long line of free passes for polluters." They cite a 2006, the U.S. District Court of Appeals decision finding saying that EPA routinely neglects its duty to protect public health and the environment, and instead, "devotes substantial resources to discretionary rulemakings, many of which make existing regulations more congenial to industry." Earthjustice said, "In 2005, the Office of Management and Budget gave EPA its marching orders by publishing a list of regulatory rollbacks sought by industry. The Association of Manufacturers and the American Chemistry Council had put this relaxed hazardous waste burning regulation at the top of their wish list."

Earthjustice identifies some of the major facilities and notes: the Clean Harbors Baltimore facility in Baltimore, MD, will store and transport 2,077 tons of hazardous waste; the Systech Environmental Corporation in Paulding, OH, will store and transport 10,450 tons of hazardous waste; and the Safety Kleen Systems facility in Dolton, IL, just south of Chicago, will burn 1,786 tons of additional hazardous waste annually in boilers not permitted to burn hazardous waste. Information on the other facilities is available from the link below.

Access a release from Earthjustice (click here). Access the letter from Congressional members and the list of members (click here). Access more information about the other 83 facilities (click here). Access a map of the United States indicating the where the facilities are located and additional information (click here). Access the FR announcement (click here). Access the EPA Docket for this proposed rulemaking (click here). [*Haz]

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pelosi Says Energy Package Deal May Be Next Week

Nov 26: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) issued the statement following a White House ceremony honoring former Vice President Al Gore and other American winners of the Nobel Prize. Pelosi said, “Vice President Al Gore, along with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has awakened the world, and particularly young people, to the enormous and looming threat of the climate crisis and the need for immediate action." With only a couple of weeks left in this year's legislative session, the Speaker made a major prediction.

She said, “Congress is now moving forward with historic energy legislation that will reduce our dependence on foreign fuels and promote energy efficiency. We have made significant progress toward completing this package and hope to have a final agreement next week. This energy package will lay the groundwork for the Congress to move forward next year with comprehensive action to address climate change. It is also incumbent on the Bush Administration, after years of resistance, to become a leader in the global effort to reduce climate change. We owe it to our children and to the future to act now.

“I again congratulate Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on their winning the Nobel Peace Prize, which is a culmination of decades of dedication and perseverance. Just as Al Gore tirelessly fought to change the global warming debate, Congress must now act to change America’s energy policy and begin to halt climate change.”

Just prior to the Thanksgiving Day break, Chairman John Dingell (D-MI) of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi indicating possible compromises on Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards; as well as Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) [See WIMS 11/21/07]. The Senate passed H.R. 6 on June 21 [See WIMS 6/22/07] and on August 4, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3221 [See WIMS 8/4/07]. The bills have been stalled by the inability to appoint a Conference Committee [See WIMS 10/22/07].

Access a statement from Speaker Pelosi (click here). Access Chairman Dingell's 3-page letter (click here). Access links to various media reports on the latest activity including a lengthy article in the Detroit Free Press (click here). [*Energy]

Monday, November 26, 2007

European Commission Outlines Bali Roadmap Building Blocks

Nov 26: Stavros Dimas, the European Commissioner for the Environment, delivered a speech to the Lisbon Council on November 26, entitled, The Road to Bali. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be holding the 13th Conference of the Parties (COP), third Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (formerly known as MOP3, now CMP3), in Bali, Indonesia from December 3-13, 2007.

Dimas said, "Three years ago climate change was still seen as a 'green issue'. It was important -- but nowhere near the top of the political agenda. Corporate interest in cutting emissions was limited to a few sectors such as renewable energy. Many companies worried about a potential loss of competitiveness. And a number of influential companies were actively lobbying against legislation to reduce emissions. Some were even funding campaigns to discredit the scientific evidence. We are now on the final miles of the Road to Bali and it seems that the world has been turned upside down. Prime ministers who oppose Kyoto are being voted out of office -- and I would like to publicly congratulate Kevin Rudd on his decision to sign and ratify the Kyoto protocol.

"Business is now realizing that there are huge competitive opportunities from being at the head of the inevitable shift to the low carbon economy. Instead of skepticism, company leaders are now competing to demonstrate their green credentials. It is against this context that I would like to thank you for giving me this opportunity to set out the EU's position in view of the crucial UN conference on climate change opening in Bali on 3 December...

"The end of 2012 is just five years away, so time is not on our side. That is why it is essential that the Bali conference reach a consensus to launch negotiations on this future agreement. Bali must also set a clear deadline for completing the negotiations by the end of 2009 so there will be enough time to ratify the new agreement and bring it into force by the end of 2012. To guide the negotiations there needs to be a 'shared vision' of what the new agreement is seeking to achieve. For the EU it is clear the objective must be to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Centigrade above the pre-industrial temperature. This goal is fully supported by the IPCC's projections of far more dangerous impacts beyond this level. Keeping within the 2 degrees limit means that global emissions must peak within the next 10 to 15 years and then be cut by at least 50% of 1990 levels by 2050...

"...we need consensus at Bali on what a post-2012 agreement should cover. The EU is proposing seven key building blocks that should constitute the main elements of the agreement and which should therefore be reflected in the ‘Bali Roadmap’ that will set the agenda for the negotiations."

The seven "building blocks" outlined included: (1) binding and absolute emissions reduction commitments by the developed countries, who are responsible for the bulk of today's emissions. Developed countries must reduce their collective emissions by 30% below 1990 levels by 2020. (2) fair and effective contributions by developing countries, in particular the emerging economies. (3) extend the use of carbon markets as a key tool to foster development and deployment of low carbon investments and technologies. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) will also help to finance action in developing countries. (4) cooperation on research, development and deployment of clean technologies must be scaled up. (5) emissions from international aviation and maritime transport have to be addressed. (6) find performance-based incentives and other tools that can halt deforestation as soon as possible. (7) step up action on adaptation to climate change, in particular, increase assistance to the poorest developing countries.

Dimas’ remarks served as a keynote for the Lisbon Council’s Climate Change Action Group, which convened in Brussels. The Lisbon Council for Economic Competitiveness and Social Renewal is a think tank and policy network committed to defining and articulating a mature strategy for managing current and future challenges.

Access the European Commission Bali position speech (
click here). Access further information on the upcoming COP13 meeting in Bali (click here). Access the Lisbon Council website for additional information (click here). [*Climate]