Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Boxer-Kerry Clean Energy Jobs & American Power Act

Sep 30: Following preliminary releases of two different versions of a Senate Climate Change bill, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, and Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, hosted an event to introduce the official Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act. They were joined by a broad coalition which they said showed "support for action in the U.S. Senate to address global warming." They were joined by Democratic Members of the EPW committee and other senators, as well as leaders from the business, faith, national security, energy and environmental community, and local and state officials.

According to a release from Senators Kerry and Boxer, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act will cut carbon pollution and stimulate the economy by creating millions of jobs in the clean energy sector. Senator Kerry said, "This is a security bill that puts Americans back in charge of our energy future and makes it clear that we will combat global climate change with American ingenuity. It is our country’s defense against the harms of pollution and the security risks of global climate change. Our health, our security, our economy, our environment, all demand we reinvent the way America uses energy. Our addiction to foreign oil hurts our economy, helps our enemies and risks our security. By taking decisive action, we can and will stop climate change from becoming a ‘threat multiplier’ that makes an already dangerous world staggeringly more so. I want to thank my partner in this important legislative mission, Senator Barbara Boxer, for helping to craft a bill that can put millions of Americans back to work, invest in homegrown innovation, and safeguard our children’s health and our environment.”

Senator Boxer said, “We know clean energy is the ticket to strong, stable economic growth -- it's right here in front of us, in the ingenuity of our workers and the vision of our entrepreneurs. We must seize this opportunity, or others will move ahead. This is our time. Global warming is our challenge. Economic recovery is our challenge. American leadership is our challenge. Let's step up right now. Let's not quit until we have fulfilled our responsibility to our children and our grandchildren. It is an honor to work side by side on this important legislation with Senator Kerry, who recognized very early that this issue is about America’s national and economic security.”

In advance of the Democrats release of the bill, Republicans on the EPW Committee, lead by Ranking Member Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), outspoken critic of climate change science and legislation, sent a letter to Chairman Boxer urging the introduction of "a complete cap-and-trade bill with no placeholders." Senator Inhofe said in a statement, “My hope is that Chairman Boxer avoids repeating the process of pushing climate change legislation in the House, in which key portions of the bill were inserted at the last minute, and the American people were left guessing as to how it would impact their energy costs, their jobs, and America’s energy security. We must have a fair, open, and transparent process so we can have a debate on the facts and the substance of legislation with all its provisions, no matter how politically sensitive they may be.”

In their letter, the Republican Senators indicate in their letter, "We understand that your bill, as currently drafted, is incomplete in several important respects -- most notably, it lacks a formula to determine the allocation of emission allowances. Leaving out these and other key provisions makes it impossible to get an objective estimate of the economic impacts of your bill on consumers, especially those in energy-intensive regions that rely on coal for electricity and manufacturing for jobs. Moreover, farmers, families and workers have no way of gauging how acutely they will be affected from job losses, higher electricity, food, and gasoline prices. . ."

Several documents are available including: a Bill Overview; a Bill Summary; a summary of the Pollution Reduction and Investment (PRI) is a mechanism; and a Section By Section Summary (See links below).

Some early reactions to the Senate legislation were available from : The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC); Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS); Greenpeace; Center for Biological Diversity (CBD); Friends of the Earth (FOI); and the American Petroleum Institute (API).

NRDC said, “This bill will help curb climate change, strengthen our economy, and make our country more secure. It will help generate jobs, reduce our reliance on foreign oil and create a healthier future for all of us. . . This is the right step at the right time. It confronts the growing problem of global warming head-on – before it’s too late to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. It calls for a 20-percent cut in carbon emissions by 2020. That’s a strong and achievable goal. It will reduce the carbon pollution that causes global warming, while accelerating the move to a clean energy future for our country. A new analysis from UC Berkeley confirms that clean energy and climate legislation can strengthen our economy and create jobs. According to the report, comprehensive energy legislation with strong efficiency measures can create as many as 1.9 million jobs between 2010 and 2020.”

UCS said, "A stronger short-term target makes scientific sense. U.S. emissions levels are now lower than expected, so we're already well on our way to meeting these goals. Additionally, more of the carbon dioxide we're emitting today is staying in the atmosphere because the ocean is absorbing less carbon from the air. That means early cuts in emissions are even more critical to keep temperatures down and prevent the worst consequences of climate change."

Greenpeace said, "While the language the Senate unveiled today contains some improvements over the House bill, it fails to commit the US to meaningful, science-based greenhouse gas emissions reductions needed to protect us from runaway climate change. This proposal meets neither the needs of science nor those of the international community, which is currently negotiating the landmark climate treaty. . . the legislation only proposes to cut emissions by 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 while the Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicates that developed countries must cut emissions at least 25% – 40% under 1990 levels by 2020."

CBD said, "The Kerry-Boxer climate bill marks a baby step forward in the ever more urgent fight against climate catastrophe, but much bolder action is needed. . . While the Senate bill recognizes the absolute necessity of stronger emissions reduction targets, the targets in the Senate bill -- like those in the House bill -- are woefully inadequate. This legislation would not save the polar bear and numerous other species and ecosystems because it simply does not go far enough quickly enough. The scientific consensus is clear: We must reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide to no more than 350 parts per million. Leading climate scientists have called for reductions of approximately 40 percent below 1990 levels to avoid climate catastrophe, and yet this bill aims to deliver only a 20-percent reduction from 2005 levels.”

FOI said, "We commend Senators Boxer and Kerry for their dedication to combating the important problem of climate change but we cannot support a bill that fails to solve the problem. Overall the draft is riddled with loopholes and does not go far enough to protect the planet."

API said, "Boxer-Kerry leaves unaddressed key elements of how it intends to constrain carbon emissions. Unfortunately, it appears to be following the pattern the House followed, which resulted in a political bidding process that picked winners and losers. The losers would be millions of Americans and American companies who rely on gasoline, diesel fuel and other petroleum products to get to work and to school and to run their businesses. . . We strongly urge the Senate not to follow the same pattern. It should craft a bill that provides equal treatment across the U.S. economy, recognizes and encourages more use of clean-burning natural gas, preempts EPA climate regulation under the Clean Air Act, and avoids the severest consequences of Waxman-Markey."

Access a release from Senators Boxer & Kerry and links to the additional documents (
click here). Access a separate release from Senator Boxer with more summary information (click here). Access the 821-page bill (click here). Access a release from Senator Inhofe and link to the letter (click here). Access a release from NRDC (click here). Access a release from UCS (click here). Access a release from Greenpeace (click here). Access a release from CBD (click here). Access a release from FOI (click here). Access a release from API (click here).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Exelon Joins Others In Dropping U.S. Chamber Membership

Sep 28: Exelon Chairman and CEO John W. Rowe urged utility industry leaders, regulators and policymakers at the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE) national conference to continue pushing for sensible climate change legislation that puts a price on carbon. Rowe said, “The carbon-based free lunch is over. But while we can’t fix our climate problems for free, the price signal sent through a cap-and-trade system will drive low-carbon investments in the most inexpensive and efficient way possible. Putting a price on carbon is essential, because it will force us to do the cheapest things, like energy efficiency, first.”

In his speech, Rowe recognized the need to balance our nation’s fragile economic recovery with the need to address climate change, and pointed to energy efficiency as a lower-cost way to meet those goals. Rowe discussed how Exelon utilities ComEd and PECO plan to spend $290 million per year over the next five years on energy-efficiency and demand response programs. The plan aims to help customers reduce their energy use by more than 3.7 million megawatt hours and cut peak load by 388 megawatts. Exelon’s energy-efficiency programs place the company third among the nation’s utilities in terms of customer energy savings.

Rowe announced that Exelon will not be renewing its membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of their stance on climate change legislation. The company joins other recent similar announcements from Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), PG&E Chairman and CEO Peter Darbee; New Mexico power company PNM; and Duke Energy and Alstom who publicly gave up their membership in the American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy. Also, Nike has said it fundamentally disagrees with the US Chamber of Commerce's position on climate change [
See WIMS 9/24/09].

In making his announcement Rowe said, "Some see carbon legislation as just another issue they can use as a cudgel against President Obama. In the short term they may be right. But the EPA has received license from the Supreme Court to regulate CO2 as a pollutant. If Congress doesn’t act, the EPA will. The result will be more arbitrary, more expensive and more uncertain for investors and the industry than a reasonable legislative solution. I am disappointed that Congressional Republicans and business groups can’t recognize this reality. Because of their stridency against carbon legislation, Exelon has decided not to renew its membership in the US Chamber this year."

Chicago-based Exelon Corporation is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities with approximately $19 billion in annual revenues. The company distribute electricity to approximately 5.4 million customers in Illinois (ComEd) and Pennsylvania (PECO), and gas to 485,000 customers in the Philadelphia area (PECO). Exelon has one of the industry’s largest portfolios of electricity generation capacity, with a nationwide reach and strong positions in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. Exelon operates what it says is the largest and most efficient nuclear fleet in the United States and the third largest commercial nuclear fleet in the world.

Access a release from Exelon (click here). Access the full text of Rowe's speech (click here). Access the Exelon website for more information (click here). Access ACEEE's website on the 5th annual conference on energy efficiency (click here). Access an E&ETV interview with PG&E's Peter Darbee (click here). Access various media reports from NYT, WSJ, WP and others (click here).

Monday, September 28, 2009

G-20: "Will Spare No Effort To Reach Agreement In Copenhagen"

Sep 25: Among many other broad, general commitments, the G-20 members meeting in Pittsburgh September 24-25, agreed that they "will spare no effort to reach agreement in Copenhagen," at the UNFCCC COP15 meeting in Denmark scheduled for December 7-18. The G-20 includes the 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the U.K. and the U.S., and a representative of the European Union. Some of the commitments related to energy, climate and sustainability are summarized as follows:

- Our Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth is a compact that commits us to work together to assess how our policies fit together, to evaluate whether they are collectively consistent with more sustainable and balanced growth, and to act as necessary to meet our common objectives.

- Over four billion people remain undereducated, ill-equipped with capital and technology, and insufficiently integrated into the global economy. We need to work together to make the policy and institutional changes needed to accelerate the convergence of living standards and productivity in developing and emerging economies to the levels of the advanced economies. To start, we call on the World Bank to develop a new trust fund to support the new Food Security Initiative for low-income countries announced last summer. We will increase, on a voluntary basis, funding for programs to bring clean affordable energy to the poorest, such as the Scaling Up Renewable Energy Program.

- To phase out and rationalize over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies while providing targeted support for the poorest. Inefficient fossil fuel subsidies encourage wasteful consumption, reduce our energy security, impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to deal with the threat of climate change.

- We call on our Energy and Finance Ministers to report to us their implementation strategies and timeline for acting to meet this critical commitment at our next meeting.

- We will promote energy market transparency and market stability as part of our broader effort to avoid excessive volatility. - To maintain our openness and move toward greener, more sustainable growth.

- We will spare no effort to reach agreement in Copenhagen through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations.

In further details the G-20 members said, "Enhancing our energy efficiency can play an important, positive role in promoting energy security and fighting climate change. Inefficient fossil fuel subsidies encourage wasteful consumption, distort markets, impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to deal with climate change. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the IEA have found that eliminating fossil fuel subsidies by 2020 would reduce global greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 by ten percent. Many countries are reducing fossil fuel subsidies while preventing adverse impact on the poorest. Building on these efforts and recognizing the challenges of populations suffering from energy poverty, we commit to:

"Rationalize and phase out over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption. As we do that, we recognize the importance of providing those in need with essential energy services, including through the use of targeted cash transfers and other appropriate mechanisms. This reform will not apply to our support for clean energy, renewables, and technologies that dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We will have our Energy and Finance Ministers, based on their national circumstances, develop implementation strategies and timeframes, and report back to Leaders at the next Summit. We ask the international financial institutions to offer support to countries in this process. We call on all nations to adopt policies that will phase out such subsidies worldwide."

And, on the climate change issue they said, " Increasing clean and renewable energy supplies, improving energy efficiency, and promoting conservation are critical steps to protect our environment, promote sustainable growth and address the threat of climate change. Accelerated adoption of economically sound clean and renewable energy technology and energy efficiency measures diversifies our energy supplies and strengthens our energy security. We commit to:

(1) Stimulate investment in clean energy, renewables, and energy efficiency and provide financial and technical support for such projects in developing countries. (2) Take steps to facilitate the diffusion or transfer of clean energy technology including by conducting joint research and building capacity. The reduction or elimination of barriers to trade and investment in this area are being discussed and should be pursued on a voluntary basis and in appropriate fora.

"As leaders of the world’s major economies, we are working for a resilient, sustainable, and green recovery. We underscore anew our resolve to take strong action to address the threat of dangerous climate change. We reaffirm the objective, provisions, and principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including common but differentiated responsibilities. We note the principles endorsed by Leaders at the Major Economies Forum in L’Aquila, Italy. We will intensify our efforts, in cooperation with other parties, to reach agreement in Copenhagen through the UNFCCC negotiation. An agreement must include mitigation, adaptation, technology, and financing.

"We welcome the work of the Finance Ministers and direct them to report back at their next meeting with a range of possible options for climate change financing to be provided as a resource to be considered in the UNFCCC negotiations at Copenhagen."

One of the most controversial issues included in the G-20 statement was the stance on eliminating "fossil fuel subsidies." The American Petroleum Institute (API) President Jack Gerard issued a statement saying, "The Obama administration and Congress now face many difficult choices if they choose to comply with the G-20 commitment to phase-out 'fossil fuel subsidies.' Above all else, the president and Congress should not use this commitment as an excuse to raise energy taxes on American consumers and businesses. Does the president really think it wise to eliminate tax provisions that encourage investment in technology and exploration and development and would likely constrict future energy supplies, raise energy costs and kill jobs?

"The pledge made to the G-20 also raises questions about the administration's commitments to vitally important energy programs. Will the White House ultimately cut the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and deny our most vulnerable citizens winter heat? Will they eliminate the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and undermine America's energy security? And what about the Highway Trust Fund? What America really needs is energy from all sources. . ."

In an earlier September 23, release from API in advance of the G-20 meeting, Gerard said, "As President Obama prepares to meet with the leaders of the G-20 nations Thursday, he should be commended for noting that climate change is a challenge for both developed and developing nations. But his call to 'phase out fossil fuel subsidies' is a wrong-headed approach that should be seen for what it really is: A giant tax hike on American consumers. . ."

Access the G-20 complete Leaders Statement (
click here). Access the G-20 Pittsburgh Summit website for more information (click here). Access a series links to White House fact sheets on the G-20 Summit (click here). Access a release from API (click here). Access the 9/23 release from API (click here).

Friday, September 25, 2009

U.S. Chamber Concerned With 2nd Circuit Public Nuisance Ruling

Sep 23: Calling it an "alarming reversal of established precedent, the U.S. Chamber of commerce is expressing real concern over the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit decision in Connecticut v. American Electric Power which upheld public nuisance claims in climate change litigation [See WIMS 9/22/09].

The major 139-page decision regarding citizen and government enforcement of greenhouse gas emissions is being hailed as a "landmark ruling" by environmental organizations. Interestingly, the case was finally decided by a two judge panel that noted, "The Honorable Sonia Sotomayor, originally a member of the panel, was elevated to the Supreme Court on August 8, 2009. The two remaining members of the panel, who are in agreement, have determined the matter."

The ruling justices said in their opinion, "With regard to air pollution, particularly greenhouse gases, this case occupies a niche similar to the one Milwaukee I occupied with respect to water pollution. With that in mind, the concluding words of Milwaukee I have an eerie resonance almost forty years later. To paraphrase: 'It may happen that new federal laws and new federal regulations may in time pre-empt the field of federal common law of nuisance. But until that comes to pass, federal courts will be empowered to appraise the equities of the suits alleging creation of a public nuisance' by greenhouse gases. . ."

Commenting on the ruling, Lisa Rickard, President of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform said, “We are deeply troubled that the Second Circuit has chosen to ignore well-settled law and allowed the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ novel public nuisance claims to proceed. For the better part of the decade, key players within the plaintiffs’ bar have been aggressively advancing a twisted use of the public nuisance legal theory -- an 800-year-old legal concept historically applied to unreasonable interference with public rights -- as an avenue for new mass tort litigation to address issues not designed for judicial resolution. While courts have rightly repudiated this flawed legal scheme, America’s lawsuit industry needs only one precedent-setting victory to open up a public nuisance can of worms.

"Unfortunately, the Second Circuit’s decision to allow public nuisance claims to proceed against businesses for their contributions to global warming may be just the break the trial lawyers need to press ahead with their liability expanding crusade. If this decision is allowed to reverse the judicial trend, it will help further line the pockets of trial lawyers, but it will come at the expense of virtually every U.S. consumer and employer.”

Plaintiffs in thee case involved the states of CT, NY, CA, IA, NJ, RI, VT, and WI plus New York City, Open Space Institute, Inc., Open Space Conservancy and the Audubon Society of New Hampshire. Defendants included: American Electric Power Company, Inc., American Electric Power Service Corporation, Southern Company, Tennessee Valley Authority, Xcel Energy, Inc., and Cinergy Corporation.

Access the statement from the U.S. Chamber (
click here). Access the complete opinion (click here).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Summing Up The UN Climate Change Summit In NYC

Sep 23: A release from the United Nations (UN) indicates that the Climate Change Summit convened by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon succeeded in mobilizing political will ahead of a major conference later this year by focusing the attention of world leaders on the urgent need for action on global warming [See WIMS 9/22/09]. The UN said the summit was the "largest-ever high-level gathering on the issue" -- attended by over 100 world leaders -- and was part of Ban’s efforts to mobilize momentum as governments work to "seal the deal" on an ambitious new agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions at the UN climate change conference to be held in December in Copenhagen, Denmark, December 7-18.

According to a release, the summit also succeeded in accomplishing another major goal, in that “there was a serious and sustained dialogue between the most vulnerable and the major economies. A UN official said, “It was very striking how much the leaders agreed that they need to agree and can agree in Copenhagen. This was an important recognition by all the leaders present that a deal was possible and that they are going to work very hard to achieve it.”

In addition, a number of important announcements were made, including by Japan, which pledged to slash their emissions by 25 per cent by 2020, and Maldives, which said it intends to become climate-neutral by 2020. One of the biggest outcomes of the day highlighted by the official was that financing finally took centre stage. He said financing is the sine qua non [essential prerequisite condition] of getting a successful deal in Copenhagen. He drew attention to a proposal put on the table for supporting "a minimum of $100 billion per annum over the next decade, which many leaders rallied around. " Leaders also apparently said they were prepared to come together again before Copenhagen, depending on how negotiations go. The Secretary-General said he is prepared to convene such a meeting, if desired.

In a key statement at the Summit, H.E.Hu Jintao, President of the People's Republic of China said his country has adopted and is implementing the National Climate Change Program which includes "mandatory national targets for reducing energy intensity and the discharge of major pollutants, and increasing forest coverage and the share of renewable energy for the period of 2005 through 2010."

China said further that, in the years ahead it will take the following measures: (1) intensify effort to conserve energy and improve energy efficiency and cut CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by a "notable margin by 2020 from the 2005 level." (2) "vigorously develop renewable and nuclear energy" seeking 15% non-fossil fuels by 2020. (3) increase forest carbon sinks by increasing forest coverage by 40 million hectares and forest stock volume by 1.3 billion cubic meters by 2020 from 2005 levels. (4) "step up effort to develop" a green, low-carbon, circular economy and enhance R&D and "climate-friendly technologies."

In a related development, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) announced that a number of groups -- from cities and railways to postal services, industry and civil society organizations -- have pledged to significantly reduce their carbon footprint and promote greener living by joining the UN Climate Neutral Network. UNEP Executive Director-General Achim Steiner said, “The growth of the climate neutral movement around the world is a clear sign that people from all walks of life are committed to solving the climate crisis and bringing about low-carbon economies and societies." Launched in 2008, the UNEP-led Network has close to 100 participants worldwide, including several countries, cities, major international companies, UN agencies and leading non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Among the new groups joining forces with the Network are the University of California, Berkeley, and the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) located in Bangkok, Thailand, as well as the Universal Postal Union, the International Union of Railways and Japan Airlines.

In a related matter, at a High-level Event on Deforestation in Developing Countries, Ban called for increased funding for the UN Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD) initiative. UN-REDD, launched last September by Ban, compensates developing countries for reducing carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. The initiative approved $18 million in funding in March, with roughly a third going to anti-deforestation initiatives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania and Viet Nam. Ban said, “We now need to mobilize further funding for REDD and establish transparent systems to distribute payments and measure results.”

In addition to storing over one trillion tons of the world’s carbon, forests purify water, protect soils, prevent floods and droughts and are home to the majority of the world’s land-based species. At the same time, some 1.6 billion people depend on forests for sustenance and income. Almost 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions – more than all the world’s cars, trucks, ships and planes combined -- result from deforestation and degradation of forests.

Access a release from the UN (click here). Access a summary of the UN press conference (click here). Access the statement from China's President (click here). Access a release on the REDD initiative and links to related information (click here). Access the climate Change Summit website for extensive information including all statements and program information (click here). Access links to videos of key speeches, events, statements, etc. for the September 22 and 23 meetings and more from the UN webcast archives (click here).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

DOI Offshore Energy Strategy Receives 450,000+ Comments

Sep 22: Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary Ken Salazar announced that the Federal government has received more than 450,000 comments from the public regarding the development of a comprehensive offshore energy strategy for the Outer Continental Shelf. DOI's Minerals Management Service (MMS) received the comments during an extended public comment period that Salazar established for the Draft Proposed Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program in February [See WIMS 2/11/09].

The public comment period, which ended on September 21st, provided the public additional opportunity to provide input on a plan released by the previous administration on January 16, 2009, its last business day in office. Many of the comments came from four regional meetings that Secretary Salazar hosted in New Jersey, Louisiana, Alaska, and California. Salazar said, “In the meetings I hosted -- from New Orleans to Anchorage -- I was proud to see Americans play an active role in the development of a comprehensive offshore energy strategy for our nation. I heard broad agreement that we must confront our dangerous dependence on foreign oil, build a clean energy future, and make wise use of the limited resources we have while protecting our land, water, and wildlife.”

DOI indicated in a release that MMS is carefully reviewing all of the comments submitted. Following the review and analysis of the comments, which is expected to take several weeks due to the large number of comments, the next step in the process is to initiate environmental analysis and public scoping opportunities associated with the five year plan, required by law, for oil and gas development in the OCS.

Salazar said, “I look forward to reviewing MMS’s analysis of the public comments. The offshore energy program we are developing must address our nation’s energy security challenges, deliver a fair return to the taxpayers who own the resources, and account for the views of local communities, states, and tribal nations. In addition, it must take into account several key considerations, including areas of the ocean that are critical to military training and the nation’s defenses; other economic benefits of the oceans, including fisheries, tourism, and subsistence uses; environmental considerations; existing oil and gas infrastructure; interest from industry; and the availability of scientific and seismic data. I am confident that we will be able to expand our nation’s offshore energy portfolio by focusing on development in the right way in the right places.”

DOI oversees more than 1.7 billion acres on the Outer Continental Shelf -- an area roughly three-fourths of the size of the entire United States. In addition to overseeing oil and gas development in the OCS, the MMS has established the first-ever framework for offshore renewable energy development in order to guide environmentally responsible renewable energy development and to broaden the nation’s energy supplies.

Access a release from DOI with links to additional information (
click here). Access the docket for this action (click here).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

President Obama Addresses UN Climate Summit In NYC

Sep 22: Nearly 100 heads of State and Government converged on United Nations Headquarters in New York City for a Climate Change Summit convened by un Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Just 75 days before the start of the climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, where nations are set to wrap up negotiations on an ambitious new international agreement on curbing the emission of harmful greenhouse gases, the Summit was designed to mobilize the political momentum to accelerate the pace of negotiations and emphasize the importance of the pending agreement. The event is also a part of the first-ever Climate Week NY°C.

In a plea to the delegates present, Secretary-General opened the Summit saying, "Climate change is the pre-eminent geopolitical and economic issue of the 21st century. It rewrites the global equation for development, peace and security.” He countered claims that addressing global warming comes at too high a price tag and said, “They are wrong. The opposite is true. We will pay an unacceptable price if we do not act now.” He urged developed nations to take the first steps forward, with developing nations also needing to make strides. He said, “All countries must do more -- now.”

President Obama said, ". . .the threat from climate change is serious, it is urgent, and it is growing. Our generation's response to this challenge will be judged by history, for if we fail to meet it -- boldly, swiftly, and together -- we risk consigning future generations to an irreversible catastrophe. . . No nation, however large or small, wealthy or poor, can escape the impact of climate change. . . The security and stability of each nation and all peoples -- our prosperity, our health, and our safety -- are in jeopardy. And the time we have to reverse this tide is running out. . .

"I am proud to say that the United States has done more to promote clean energy and reduce carbon pollution in the last eight months than at any other time in our history. We are making our government's largest ever investment in renewable energy -- an investment aimed at doubling the generating capacity from wind and other renewable resources in three years. . . Later this week, I will work with my colleagues at the G20 to phase out fossil fuel subsidies so that we can better address our climate challenge. . .

"Most importantly, the House of Representatives passed an energy and climate bill in June that would finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy for American businesses and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One committee has already acted on this bill in the Senate and I look forward to engaging with others as we move forward. . . We understand the gravity of the climate threat. We are determined to act. And we will meet our responsibility to future generations. But though many of our nations have taken bold action and share in this determination, we did not come here to celebrate progress today. We came because there's so much more progress to be made. We came because there's so much more work to be done. . .

"As we head towards Copenhagen, there should be no illusions that the hardest part of our journey is in front of us. We seek sweeping but necessary change in the midst of a global recession, where every nation's most immediate priority is reviving their economy and putting their people back to work. And so all of us will face doubts and difficulties in our own capitals as we try to reach a lasting solution to the climate challenge. But I'm here today to say that difficulty is no excuse for complacency. Unease is no excuse for inaction. And we must not allow the perfect to become the enemy of progress. Each of us must do what we can when we can to grow our economies without endangering our planet -- and we must all do it together. We must seize the opportunity to make Copenhagen a significant step forward in the global fight against climate change.

"We also cannot allow the old divisions that have characterized the climate debate for so many years to block our progress. Yes, the developed nations that caused much of the damage to our climate over the last century still have a responsibility to lead -- and that includes the United States. And we will continue to do so -- by investing in renewable energy and promoting greater efficiency and slashing our emissions to reach the targets we set for 2020 and our long-term goal for 2050.

"But those rapidly growing developing nations that will produce nearly all the growth in global carbon emissions in the decades ahead must do their part, as well. Some of these nations have already made great strides with the development and deployment of clean energy. Still, they need to commit to strong measures at home and agree to stand behind those commitments just as the developed nations must stand behind their own. We cannot meet this challenge unless all the largest emitters of greenhouse gas pollution act together. There's no other way.

"We must also energize our efforts to put other developing nations -- especially the poorest and most vulnerable -- on a path to sustained growth. . . And that is why we have a responsibility to provide the financial and technical assistance needed to help these nations adapt to the impacts of climate change and pursue low-carbon development. What we are seeking, after all, is not simply an agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions. We seek an agreement that will allow all nations to grow and raise living standards without endangering the planet. . .

"Mr. Secretary, as we meet here today, the good news is that after too many years of inaction and denial, there's finally widespread recognition of the urgency of the challenge before us. We know what needs to be done. We know that our planet's future depends on a global commitment to permanently reduce greenhouse gas pollution. We know that if we put the right rules and incentives in place, we will unleash the creative power of our best scientists and engineers and entrepreneurs to build a better world. . ."

Access a lengthy release from the UN with links to the Secretary-General's comments and more (click here). Access the full text of the President's address (click here). Access the Summit website for complete information including the background, the program, text and video statements from delegates, and much more (click here). Access the Climate Week NYC website for extensive information (click here).

Monday, September 21, 2009

Climate Legislation Debate Confused Over Cost Estimates

Sep 21: As the Senate begins debate over climate change legislation, conflicting reports on the overall costs are giving both sides of the issue reason to tout their claims. The following provides and overview of a recent report from CBO; the release of FOIA information on a 2008 Treasury Department memo; and a recent detailed report by the Congressional Research Service. The Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, Chaired by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) is currently conducting hearings on the cost associated with cap and trade, climate change legislation.

CBO Report On Economic Effects of GHG Legislation

Sep 18: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report -- The Economic Effects of Legislation to Reduce Greenhouse-Gas Emissions -- that summarizes its analyses of the economic effects of proposed policy changes aimed at reducing emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG). In its report CBO makes several points regarding the economic implications of policies that might be chosen to address climate change:
  • "The economic impact would depend importantly on the design of the policy. Decisions about whether to reduce greenhouse gases primarily through market-based systems (such as taxes or a cap-and-trade program) or primarily through traditional regulatory approaches that specify performance or technology standards would influence the total costs of reducing emissions and the distribution of those costs. The costs would also depend on the stringency of the policy; whether other countries imposed similar policies; the amount of flexibility about when, where, and how emissions would be reduced; and the allocation of allowances if a cap-and-trade system was used.
  • "Reducing the risk of climate change would come at some cost to the economy. A cap-and-trade system, for example, would lead to higher prices for energy from fossil fuels and for energy-intensive goods, which would in turn provide incentives for households and businesses to use less carbon-based energy and to develop energy sources that emit smaller amounts of carbon dioxide. Changes in the relative prices for energy and energy-intensive goods would also shift income among households at different points in the income distribution and across industries and regions of the country. Policymakers could counteract some of those income losses and shifts by having the government sell emission allowances and use the revenues to compensate certain households or businesses, or by having the government give allowances away to some households or businesses. Even so, some income losses and shifts would occur.
  • "For example, CBO concludes that the cap-and-trade provisions of H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, would reduce GDP below what it would otherwise have been—by roughly ¼ to ¾ percent in 2020 and by between 1 and 3½ percent in 2050. By way of comparison, CBO projects that real (that is, inflation-adjusted) GDP will be roughly two and a half times as large in 2050 as it is today, so those changes would be comparatively modest. In the models that CBO reviewed, the long-run cost to households would be smaller than the changes in GDP because consumption falls by less than GDP and because households benefit from more time spent in nonmarket activities. Moreover, these measures of potential costs do not include any benefits of averting climate change.
  • "Climate legislation would cause permanent shifts in production and employment away from industries that produce carbon-based energy and energy-intensive goods and services and toward industries that produce alternative energy sources and less-energy-intensive goods and services. While those shifts were occurring, total employment would probably be reduced a little compared with what it would have been without such a policy, because labor markets would most likely not adjust as quickly as would the composition of demand for different outputs.
  • "CBO has estimated the loss in purchasing power that would result from the primary cap-and-trade program in H.R. 2454. CBO’s measure reflects the higher prices that households would face and the compensation they would receive, primarily through the allocation of allowances or the proceeds from their sale. However, the measure omits some channels of influence on households’ well-being that cannot be readily quantified. It appears that CBO’s measure probably understates the true burden to a small degree. As estimated, the loss in purchasing power would be modest and would rise over time as the cap became more stringent, accounting for 0.2 percent of after-tax income in 2020 and 1.2 percent in 2050.
  • "The distribution of the loss in purchasing power across households depends importantly on policymakers’ decisions about how to allocate the allowances. According to CBO’s calculation, households in the lowest fifth of households when arrayed by income would see gains in purchasing power in both 2020 and 2050, because the compensation they would receive would exceed the costs they would bear. However, households in the middle fifth would see net losses in purchasing power amounting to 0.6 percent of after-tax income in 2020 and 1.1 percent in 2050."

    Republicans React To Cap & Trade Costs Estimates

    Sep 16: U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ranking Member of the Energy & Natural Resources Committee released a statement in response to the U.S. Treasury Department’s estimate that cap and trade legislation would cost American taxpayers up to $200 billion annually. Senator Murkowski was reacting to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) information released a from a ... (FOIA) request to the Department of Treasury. The redacted November 8 memo from Treasury indicates it expects that the sort of plan that the president is calling for -- a plan that either immediately auctions off carbon dioxide emission permits or sells nearly all after a few years of giving industry most of its permits for free – would bring from $100-200 billion per year in revenue for the government. CEI indicated that "At the upper end of the administration's estimate, the cost per American household would be $1,761 a year, on top of what they already pay in taxes to the government."

    Senator Murkowski said, “It’s becoming apparent that the administration knew all along how much their cap and trade program would cost, yet they continue to claim it will cost no more than a postage stamp a day. I believe we need to do something about climate change, but I’m equally concerned about the health of the economy. We must focus on legislation that will effectively limit costs, establish a realistic compliance curve, and encourage the rest of the world to join the effort. Some have dismissed the costs of climate legislation as minimal, or surmountable, but we lawmakers must remember that we will be affected far less than many others. Those who will really feel its effects are trying to find jobs right now. They are trying to find a way to pay their bills and mortgages. We shouldn’t pass legislation that makes it harder for Americans to get back on their feet.”

    CEI issued a release saying, “The cost of a cap-and-trade plan to businesses and consumers will be huge, which the Treasury Department internally acknowledges. The documents represent what the administration expects ‘cap and trade’ to cost, and raise. It's a candid perspective that must be told with as much openness to the American public as administration staff discuss with each other. Therefore, we call on the Administration to immediately release complete, un-redacted copies of these documents for all to see. No more hiding.”

The Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, Chaired by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) is currently conducting hearings on the cost associated with cap and trade, climate change legislation. The Committee held a hearing on September 15 [See WIMS 9/16/09]. A second hearing, scheduled for September 17, was postponed until further notice.

A 100-page report -- Climate Change: Costs and Benefits of the Cap-and-Trade Provisions of H.R. 2454 -- by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), released at the first Senate hearing and dated September 14, 2009 indicates, "Attempts to estimate household effects (or other fine-grained analyses) are fraught with numerous difficulties that reflect more on the philosophies and assumptions of the cases reviewed than on any credible future effect." The report, concludes with a range of cost per household based on various assumptions and estimates that are much lower than the cost indicated in the 2008 treasury memo.

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Pubic Works Committee, also issued a statement on the CEI release. Senator Inhofe said, During the campaign, President Obama promised tax relief for the middle class. That was then, this is now: the President’s own economic team said his cap-and-trade proposal would cost each family $1,761 per year. To keep his promise with the middle class, the President should have changed course. Instead, he eagerly supported cap-and-trade in the House. And he continues to support it now. And if President Obama gets his way, middle class families, indeed all families, will pay more for gasoline, food, electricity, and much more. This revelation also raises fundamental issues of trust and transparency. . ."

Access a blog posting from CBO summarizing the report (
click here). Access the complete CBO report (click here). Access a release from Senator Murkowski (click here). Access a release from CEI and link to the FOIA documents (click here). Access the CRS report on costs and benefits (click here). Access a release from Senator Inhofe (click here). Access the first Senate hearing website for links to all testimony and a webcast (click here). Access previous WIMS eNewsUSA postings on the cost of climate change legislation (click here).

Friday, September 18, 2009

DOE Finalized $5.9 Billion Loan For Ford Motor Company

Sep 17: Secretary Steven Chu announced that the Department of Energy (DOE) has closed on its loan offer of $5.9 billion to Ford Motor Company to transform factories across Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio to produce more fuel efficient models. The loan is part of the Department’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program, which supports the development of innovative, advanced vehicle technologies to create thousands of clean energy jobs while helping reduce the nation’s dangerous dependence on foreign oil. The loan for Ford Motor Company is the first to be finalized since the program was appropriated in the fall of 2008.

DOE indicated in a release that the announcement builds on steps taken by the Obama Administration earlier in the week to require an average fuel economy of 35.5 miles per gallon in the year 2016 [See WIMS 9/15/09]. That standard will reduce oil consumption by an estimated 1.8 billion barrels, prevent greenhouse gas emissions of approximately 950 million metric tons, and save consumers more than $3,000 in fuel costs. The funding announced will help Ford meet those targets.

On June 23, 2009, DOE issued a conditional loan commitment to Ford to finance up to 80 percent of qualified expenditures to improve the efficiency of light vehicles by using technologies that improve internal combustion engines and transmissions, reduce vehicle weight, reduce vehicle drag with more aerodynamic designs, and improve vehicle efficiency through the development of hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles [See WIMS 6/24/09]. The loan proceeds will enable Ford to raise the fuel efficiency of more than a dozen popular models, representing close to two million new vehicles annually, and save more than 200 million gallons of gas a year.

The Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program is designed to help domestic manufacturers apply the best available technologies to improve the efficiency of the vehicles they produce. In June of this year, DOE announced conditional loan offers to Ford Motor Company, Tesla Motors, and Nissan Motors for a total of $8 billion. The program was appropriated $7.5 billion by Congress to support up to $25 billion in loans to companies making cars and components in US factories that increase fuel economy at least 25 percent above 2005 fuel economy levels. The Department plans to make additional loans under this program over the next several months to large and small auto manufacturers and parts suppliers up and down the production chain.

Applications for the loan program have included vehicles running on electricity, biofuels, and advanced combustion engines, and were submitted by both car and component makers, US automakers, US manufacturing subsidiaries of non-US-based companies, major US auto parts suppliers, and innovative startups. The intense technical and financial review process is focused not on choosing a single technology over others, but is aimed at promoting multiple approaches for achieving a fuel efficient economy.

Access a release from DOE (
click here).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Global Investors Call For Strong Climate Change Action This Year

Sep 16: The world’s largest global investors have issued a joint call for strong action this year from U.S. and international policy makers in the fight against global warming. Their call comes a day after a similar call from more than 600 conservation, outdoor, sportsmen, recreation and faith groups who urged the U.S. Senate to act quickly on climate change legislation [See WIMS 9/16/09]. Amid growing focus on upcoming international climate treaty talks and Congressional debate of climate and energy legislation, global investors meeting at an all-day International Investor Forum on Climate Change in New York City, issued a major policy statement calling for a strong and binding international treaty that will reduce pollution and catalyze massive global investments in low-carbon technologies. Signed by 181 investors collectively managing more than $13 trillion in assets, the investor statement is the largest of its kind on climate change in world history.

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, head of the $116.5 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund said, “We must chart a new course toward long-term, sustainable business practices. We cannot drag our feet on the issue of global climate change. I am deeply concerned about the investor risks climate change presents, and the human cost of inaction is unthinkable. As investors in the global economy, we can lead the way toward a future of lasting prosperity.” Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres and director of the Investor Network on Climate Risk, which co-convened the forum said, “Investors have a crucial role to play in building a low-carbon, energy efficient global economy. But without strong policies that encourage clean technologies and discourage high-polluting technologies, their hands are tied.”

The forum comes in advance of key negotiations in Copenhagen this December to ratify a new international climate change treaty after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. The outcome of those climate talks depends heavily on the course of debates in the U.S. Congress on climate and energy legislation. The House passed a comprehensive bill in June and Senate consideration of a similar climate bill is expected to begin within weeks. However, there is a certain amount of skepticism as to whether the Senate will act on the legislation this year. Senate Majority Leader Harry has hinted that the Senate could delay action until next year due to multiple competing priorities. Additionally, Department of Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, has indicated that the Copenhagen meeting may not be the end-all opportunity and that “We can come back in two to four years’ time.” [See WIMS 9/16/09].

Among other items, the investor's statement calls for a global climate change treaty to include a global target for emissions reductions of 50-85% by 2050 (1990 baseline); developed country emissions reduction targets of 80-95% by 2050 with interim targets of 25-40% by 2020 backed up by effective national action plans; and public financing mechanisms that leverage private sector finance for investment in developing countries.

The Investor Forum was sponsored by the New York State Comptroller, Ceres, the European Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), the Investors Group on Climate Change (IGCC) Australia/New Zealand, the P8 Group, and UNEP Financial Initiative.

Access a release from the investors (
click here). Access the call for action statement and list of signers (click here).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

600 Groups Urge Senators To Pass Climate Bill This Year

Sep 15: As it now seems that the Senate leadership is leaning toward a possible delay in attempting to pass climate change legislation this year; a release from National Wildlife Federation (NWF) says a collection of more than 600 conservation, outdoor, sportsmen, recreation and faith groups representing tens of millions of individuals all across the country are calling on the Senate to pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation that not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but also dedicates a significant portion of funding towards helping wildlife and natural resources that are currently threatened by global warming.

Derek Brockbank, National Wildlife Federation conservation funding campaign manager said, "Time is running out for many of America’s most treasured wildlife and landscapes. New and dedicated resources are needed to safeguard wildlife and natural resources from climate change impacts today so future generations of Americans can enjoy a thriving natural heritage tomorrow." According to the release, all the groups agree that in order to realistically tackle the existing and forecasted impacts facing our treasured wild places and animals, the Senate will need to dedicate approximately five percent of the total allowances from a climate bill towards safeguarding our natural resources from the negative impacts of climate change.

Yet as the groups mount their campaign to urge Senate passage in advance of the UN COP15 climate change meeting in Copenhagen, media reports indicate that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid warned yesterday that climate legislation might have to wait until next year because of the intensive effort necessary on health care and financial system reform legislation. The New York Times reported that although a Reid spokesman, insisted that "no decisions have been made" on floor timing for a comprehensive climate and energy bill and "We still intend to deal with health care, [Wall Street regulatory] reform and cap and trade this year;" a few hours earlier, "Reid had suggested that the global warming legislation could be tossed to the sidelines because of a packed legislative agenda that includes equally bruising battles over health care and Wall Street reform."

In a letter to Senators signed by the groups, they indicate, "As the Senate develops comprehensive climate and energy legislation, your leadership is needed to get the whole job done this year. Please ensure climate legislation both reduces the greenhouse gas emissions triggering climate change and safeguards natural resources, wildlife and our own communities threatened by the changes already set in motion."

Noah Matson, vice president for climate change with Defenders of Wildlife said, “This funding would provide crucial support for job-creating conservation initiatives to protect the natural resources which are the backbone of public health and the American economy. Without funding for efforts such as these, much of the natural resources all Americans depend on for water, food, medicine, flood protection and recreation will be seriously compromised in the near future.” The groups reminded that outdoor recreation accounts for eight percent of all consumer spending, which drives an overall annual contribution of $730 billion to the economy and supports 6.5 million jobs.

Specifically, the groups have urged the Senate to develop climate legislation that will establish a national policy framework to begin addressing the impacts of climate change on our natural resources; provide increased scientific capacity, coordination and information sharing; and dedicate five percent of the total allowance value to federal, state and tribal agencies.

In the meantime a key Administration official has suggested that the what has been termed the "critical" Copenhagen meeting may not be the end-all opportunity and that “We can come back in two to four years’ time.” is reporting that U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu who is in Vienna, Austria addressing the 53rd International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference, told reporters on September 15, that it is more important that nations make actual commitments to fight global warming. Bloomberg reported that Chu said, “Let’s not make that one particular time the be-all, end- all and say if it doesn’t happen that we’re doomed. We can come back in two to four years’ time. . . "

Access a release from NWF and link to a copy of a campaign ad (click here). Access the letter and list of groups (click here). Access a NYT article on the timing of the climate legislation (click here). Access the Bloomberg's article (click here).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

National Vehicle Fuel Efficiency & GHG Emissions Standards Proposed

Sep 15: U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood and U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson jointly proposed a rule establishing an "historic national program" that would improve vehicle fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gases. They said their proposal builds upon core principles President Obama announced with automakers, the United Auto Workers, leaders in the environmental community, governors and state officials in May [See WIMS 5/19/09], and would provide coordinated national vehicle fuel efficiency and emissions standards. The proposed program would also conserve billions of barrels of oil, save consumers money at the pump, increase fuel economy, and reduce millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

EPA Administrator Jackson said, “American drivers will keep more money in their pockets, put less pollution into the air, and help reduce a dependence on oil that sends billions of dollars out of our economy every year. By bringing together a broad coalition of stakeholders -- including an unprecedented partnership with American automakers -- we have crafted a path forward that is win-win for our health, our environment, and our economy. Through that partnership, we’ve taken the historic step of proposing the nation’s first ever greenhouse gas emissions standards for vehicles, and moved substantially closer to an efficient, clean energy future.”

Transportation Secretary LaHood said, “The increases in fuel economy and the reductions in greenhouse gases we are proposing today would bring about a new era in automotive history. These proposed standards would help consumers save money at the gas pump, help the environment, and decrease our dependence on oil -- all while ensuring that consumers still have a full range of vehicle choices.”

Under the proposed program, which covers model years 2012 through 2016, automobile manufacturers would be able to build a single, light-duty national fleet that satisfies all Federal requirements as well as the standards of California and other states. The proposed program includes miles per gallon requirements under NHTSA’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards (CAFE) program and the first-ever national emissions standards under EPA’s greenhouse gas program. The collaboration of Federal agencies for this proposal also allows for clearer rules for all automakers, instead of three standards (DOT, EPA, and a state standard).

Specifically, the Agencies said the program would: Increase fuel economy by approximately five percent every year; Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 950 million metric tons; Save the average car buyer more than $3,000 in fuel costs; and Conserve 1.8 billion barrels of oil.

EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have worked closely to develop the coordinated joint proposal and have met with many stakeholders including automakers to insure the standards proposed today are both aggressive and achievable given the current financial state of the auto industry. NHTSA and EPA expect automobile manufacturers would meet these proposed standards by improving engine efficiency, transmissions and tires, as well as increasing the use of start-stop technology and improvements in air conditioning systems. EPA and NHTSA also anticipate that these standards would promote the more widespread use of advanced fuel-saving technologies like hybrid vehicles and clean diesel engines.

NHTSA and EPA are providing a 60-day comment period that begins with publication of the proposal in the Federal Register. NHTSA has prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed CAFE standards. The Draft EIS compares the environmental impacts of the Agency’s proposal and reasonable alternatives. NHTSA is providing a 45-day comment period on the Draft EIS.

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) issued a release saying passenger vehicles account for about 40 percent of all U.S. oil consumption and nearly 20 percent of all U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. EDF President Fred Krupp said, "This is a critical step to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and curb pollution that threatens our health. It will deliver immediate benefits for the country as Congress crafts comprehensive climate legislation." EDF indicated in their release that under the proposed new standards from EPA and NHTSA, vehicles would meet an estimated combined average emissions level of 250 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per mile in model year 2016, comparable to 35.5 miles per gallon. The proposed new standards would apply to model year 2012 to 2016 vehicles.

Access a release from DOT and EPA (click here). Access EPA's website on the proposal (click here). Access the NHTSA website on the proposal (click here). Access a release from EDF (click here).

Monday, September 14, 2009

EU Proposal For Climate Financing For Developing Countries

Sep 10: The European Commission proposed a blueprint for scaling up international finance to help developing countries combat climate change. According to a release, the initiative aims to maximize the chances of concluding an ambitious global climate change agreement at the December U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen. By 2020 developing countries are likely to face annual costs of around €100 (US$146) billion to mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Much of the finance needed will have to come from domestic sources and an expanded international carbon market, but international public financing of some €22-50 (US32-73) billion a year is also likely to be necessary. The Commission proposes that "industrialized nations and economically more advanced developing countries should provide this public financing in line with their responsibility for emissions and ability to pay." The Commission said this could mean a European Union (EU) contribution of some €2-15 (US$3-22) billion a year by 2020, assuming an ambitious agreement is reached in Copenhagen.

President Barroso said, "With less than 90 days before Copenhagen we need to make serious progress in these negotiations. That is why the Commission is putting the first meaningful proposal on the table on how we might finance the battle against climate change. The sums involved are potentially significant, both ambitious and fair. I am determined that Europe will continue to provide a lead but developed and economically advanced developing countries must also make a contribution."

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said, "The European Union has led the way in committing to ambitious emission reductions and agreeing the measures to achieve them. We are well on track to achieve our Kyoto reduction target. Now we must break the impasse in the Copenhagen negotiations. That is why the Commission is putting forward a balanced blueprint for financing the necessary action by developing countries to limit their emissions growth as well as their adaptation to climate change. Our initiative reflects the strategic priority we attach to a strong Copenhagen agreement."

Negotiations to draw up a global climate change agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol are due to be concluded at the Copenhagen climate conference on December 7-18. In addition a major UN Climate Summit, with all countries invited is set for September 22. President Obama is scheduled to speak at the event [
See WIMS 9/11/09]. The EU is pushing for an ambitious and comprehensive deal that will prevent global warming from reaching the dangerous levels – more than 2°C above the pre-industrial temperature - projected by the scientific community.

The Commission said there are three main sources of finance to pay for the roughly €100 billion a year needed by developing countries by 2020 to mitigate their emissions and adapt to climate change -- Domestic public and private finance in developing countries could cover 20-40%; the international carbon market would provide around 40%; and international public finance could contribute to the remainder. The Commission said the more ambitious the carbon market is, the less need there will be for international finance from public sources. They indicated, "International public finance should be provided not only by industrialized countries but also by economically more advanced developing nations. Each country's contribution should be based on an agreed scale reflecting its responsibility for emissions and its ability to pay. Depending on the relative weighting given to these criteria, the EU’s contribution would be between 10 and 30% of the global total."

Access a release from the Commission with links to additional information (
click here). Access a speech by Commissioner Dimas (click here). Access a Q&A document on the proposal (click here). Access various Commission documents on the post-2012 global climate regime including several documents on the latest financing proposal (click here). Access a 21-page Commission staff working document with more details (click here).

Friday, September 11, 2009

Climate Envoy Says Administration Is Committed To Action

Sep 10: The House Select Committee on Energy Independence & Global Warming, Chaired by Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) held a hearing entitled, Roadmap to Copenhagen – Driving towards Success. The hearing focused on progress made thus far and challenges remaining as the December 7-18, UN climate negotiations approach in just 86 days. It featured testimony from the Obama Administration’s top climate negotiator, Todd Stern, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change, U.S. Department of State.

Stern testified that, "since I started at State in February, the negotiations we are engaged in revolve primarily around the following issues: mitigation undertakings for both developed and the more advanced developing countries; a regime for measuring, reporting, and verifying all actions taken; the provision of appropriate financial and technology assistance by major economies; and adaptation and forestry issues. We are concentrating our efforts on three related fronts: the formal negotiating track under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Major Economies Forum for Energy and Climate, and bilateral discussions. In addition, we have also worked closely with our colleagues at the Treasury Department who have recently engaged in a new G-20 process on issues related to climate finance. Let me say bluntly that the tenor of negotiations in the formal UN track has been difficult. . .

"The good news – and it is good – is that the major developing countries have started recognizing the seriousness of the problem, their own vulnerability to it, and the need for global action. In some cases, they are taking action at the federal level that outstrips our own. . . the adoption of appropriate financing provisions is pivotal to getting a deal, and I hope that the Senate takes this into account as it develops its own version of a bill. This is not charity. It is squarely in our national interest to help ensure that all countries -- not simply the ones that already have the necessary infrastructure and resources at their disposal –pursue a clean development pathway. As has been often said, this is not at all like local environmental problems. The CO2 emitted in the Middle East hurts us as much as the CO2 emitted in the Mid-West. . ."

"President Obama and the Secretary of State, along with our entire Administration, are committed to action on this issue. We are approaching this issue with the sense of urgency that it demands and are determined to do all we can to make the progress that is necessary to have a successful outcome in Copenhagen. Mr. Chairman, the world is going to make history over the course of the next months and years. We will either make it for the right reasons – because we found common ground and set ourselves on a path toward a new, sustainable, low-carbon model; or for the wrong reasons - because we blinked at the moment of truth and left our children and grandchildren to face the consequences. We have to get this right."

Also, in a related matter, it is now being widely reported that President Obama will be speaking at the special UN Climate Summit with all countries invited on September 22, in New York City [
See WIMS 9/9/09; and WIMS 6/24/09].

Access the Committee announcement and links to a video webcast of Stern's testimony and links to the testimony and opening statement from Chairman Markey (
click here). Access links to media reports of the President's commitment to speak at the Summit (click here).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Senate Ag Appointment Raises New Climate Bill Questions

Sep 9: Arkansas’s senior U.S. Democratic Senator, Blanche Lincoln, has been tapped as the next Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. In the committee’s 184-year history, Lincoln will be the first Arkansan and first female ever to serve as Chairman. She replaces Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) who will fill the Chairmanship of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, as a result of the death of Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA).

Lincoln said, “As a seventh-generation Arkansan and farmer’s daughter, I know my father is smiling down on me today. I am fortunate to have served on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry since I was first elected to the Senate in 1998. It has been a committee of significant importance to my constituents and our state’s economy. The Committee’s responsibilities encompass a number of issues that are critical to Americans, particularly those living in rural areas. With such priorities as child nutrition reauthorization, farm bill implementation, and regulation of commodities, the Committee has a full plate. I thank Senator Harkin for his tremendous leadership. As Chairman, I will work with my colleagues to build upon the Committee’s strong record and devote my full energy to producing forward-looking, balanced priorities on behalf of all families and communities. I will continue to fight for the hardworking farm families and rural communities who provide the safest, most abundant and affordable supply of food and fiber in the world.”

The appointment raises new questions about the Senate passage of a climate and energy bill. Senator Lincoln has already expressed her strong opposition to the House-passed cap-and-trade legislation (HR 2454, ACES, Waxman-Markey) saying it is "deeply flawed." She said any prospective Senate bill must not place a disproportionate share of the economic burden on families and businesses in rural America. The Senate Agriculture Committee is one of six major committees with jurisdiction over climate legislation. Others include: Commerce, Science, and Transportation; Energy and Natural Resources; Environment and Public Works (primary responsibility); Finance; and Foreign Relations.

Agriculture issue and concerns in climate legislation are highly contentious as demonstrated by concerns raised by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) during the debate over passage of the Waxman Markey bill [
See WIMS 5/7/09]. Chairman Peterson vowed not to support the bill until several changes were made. Similarly, as WIMS reported yesterday, the National Wheat Growers Association (NWGA), joined many other agriculture organizations, and approved a new resolution indicating its opposition "to greenhouse gas legislation or regulation that has a negative impact on production agriculture," and saying, "We believe neither greenhouse gas regulation nor legislation should take effect until the major carbon emitting countries of the world have agreed to regulate their own greenhouse gases in a like manner to ours." [See WIMS 9/9/09].

In an August 4, 2009, Senate Finance Committee hearing on climate change, Senator Lincoln said, “In the current economic environment, the average Arkansas family sits down at their kitchen table, where they talk through their worries about retirement plans losing money, college savings accounts losing value, and their neighbors being laid off. Quite simply, they are scared. In addition, our businesses are making tough choices about whether to cut benefits, hours, or workers, or close their doors altogether.

“The majority of Arkansans believe efforts need to be made to reverse the detrimental effects of climate change. However, they are apprehensive, and rightly so, about what a massive policy change such as a cap-and-trade plan would mean for them at a time of tremendous economic uncertainty. The legislation recently passed by the House of Representatives has done nothing to ease these Arkansans’ apprehensions. The House’s Waxman-Markey bill picks winners and losers and places a disproportionate share of the economic burden on families and businesses in rural America. It is a deeply flawed bill. I will not support similar legislation in the Senate.

“Here in the Senate, and in this committee [then speaking of the Senate Finance Committee], we must craft a proposal that works for all of America. Last year, I joined several of my colleagues in laying out a set of principles that must be addressed before I would consider supporting any climate change legislation. I stand by those principles today and look forward to working to craft responsible legislation to curb carbon emissions. There are many options to deal with the issue of climate change and all should be up for discussion in order to meet our environmental and economic goals. I am very proud of the work already completed in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where we passed bipartisan legislation that will implement a national renewable electricity standard, increase our investments in energy research and technology, and put in place a plan to combat our energy challenges of the future.

“I hope that the Finance Committee will have the opportunity to create companion legislation to the Energy Committee’s bill, which will focus on investments in new renewable technologies and clean-energy technologies that, combined with the Energy Committee’s bill, will lay the foundation of a new national energy policy that will curb carbon output, create new jobs, and reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy.”

In a list of numerous persons commenting on the Lincoln appointment, Gary McChesney, Chief Technology Officer, FutureFuel Chemical Company said his company is "extremely pleased with Senator Lincoln's appointment as the Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. The Senator's personnel association with agriculture, coupled with her passion for energy security and climate issues make her an excellent choice to lead the expansion of U.S. agriculture into the production biomass-derived (renewable) energy, the generation of carbon offsets, and the reduction of greenhouse gases. FutureFuel congratulates Senator Lincoln on her appointment and looks forward to supporting the Senator in her new responsibilities.”

Access Senator Lincoln's statement on the appointment (click here). Access an 8/4/09 release on the Senator's opposition to ACES (click here). Access the Senator's supporting comments on her appointment (click here).

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Wheat Growers Oppose ACES; UN Touts NYC Summit

Sep 8: As Congress returns and prepares to take on climate change legislation, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee and staunch opponent of such legislation, applauded the board of the National Wheat Growers Association (NWGA), which, on September 4, by a vote of 26 to 2, approved a new resolution on climate legislation and regulation. The new resolution puts the group on record as "opposed to greenhouse gas legislation or regulation that has a negative impact on production agriculture."

According to a release from Senator Inhofe, the new resolution marks a "stunning shift from the group's recent endorsement of the Waxman-Markey" (ACES) legislation passed by the House of Representatives in June [
See WIMS 6/29/09]. The Wheat Growers Association resolution states, "NWGA is opposed to greenhouse gas legislation or regulation that has a negative impact on production agriculture. NWGA will strive for a net economic benefit to farmers, agriculture and food production. We believe neither greenhouse gas regulation nor legislation should take effect until the major carbon emitting countries of the world have agreed to regulate their own greenhouse gases in a like manner to ours. NWGA urges USDA to do a detailed economic analysis of any legislation or regulation before it becomes law. Furthermore, NWGA will oppose EPA regulation and will work to overturn the Supreme Court ruling.” The board also voted 24 to 0 to "remove existing resolutions relating to greenhouse gas regulation and an agriculture cap-and-trade program."

Senator Inhofe said, "I'm pleased that the organization representing the interests of wheat growers nationwide has reached the right conclusion: cap-and-trade legislation and potential EPA greenhouse gas regulation pose serious harm to farmers and rural America. In times of great hardship in rural communities across America, both of these approaches to addressing climate change will only bring further job cuts and economic decline. This new resolution marks an important step in the effort to defeat a cap-and-trade energy tax and EPA's misguided regulations."

The original plan for a September 8 rollout of a draft Senate climate bill has been delayed until later this fall. On August 31, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator John Kerry (D-MA) announced a delay due to intensive work necessary of health care reform and Senator Kerry's hip surgery. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had originally called for markup of the Senate bill to be completed by six Senate Committees by September 28. Senator Reid issued a brief statement on the delay and said he "appreciates the leadership of Senators Boxer and Kerry as they shepherd this important legislation through their respective committees. They are working diligently to craft a well-balanced bill and Senator Reid fully expects the Senate to have ample time to consider this comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation before the end of the year.”

In a related matter, at a press conference, Janos Pasztor, Director of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Climate Change Support Team said the high-level United Nations climate change summit on September 22 in New York [
See WIMS 6/24/09] seeks to allow leaders to hold candid discussions on how to resolve obstacles in talks with fewer than 90 days left before the start of December’s conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. He said the New York summit “is intended to provide political momentum at the highest level to accelerate progress toward a deal in Copenhagen.” He said only 15 official days of negotiations remain before conference in the Danish capital, where countries are expected to wrap up negotiations on a new agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

To date, the pace of progress of climate talks has been “much too slow,” Pasztor underscored, with Ban continually urging leaders to take more urgent measures to reach a “fair, equitable, comprehensive and effective” global pact. All countries are invited to the special New York summit. Pasztor said, “This is not just for eight countries or 20, but for 192,” including highly vulnerable States, large emitters and fast-emerging developing nations. We need a global solution for a global problem.”

The day-long event will comprise round-table discussions chaired by heads of State and government on “how we can move toward a lower emissions, climate resilient global economy.” A release from the UN indicates that the Secretary-General has just returned from a visit to the Arctic ice rim where he saw the devastation wrought by climate change first hand, voicing hope that all leaders could see the effects of global warming for themselves [See WIMS 9/2/09]. Pasztor said his trip “reminds us that addressing climate change is not optional or something that could be postponed indefinitely. A failure to take action will have serious consequences, not just for polar bears in the Arctic, but for people on every continent and every country.” A 9-page background paper to help frame discussions at the Summit, focusing on the core political issues that need to be resolved to catalyze strengthened cooperative action on climate change is available.

Access a release from Senator Inhofe (
click here). Access a release from NWGA (click here). Access a statement from Senator Reid (click here). Access a release from the UN (click here). Access further details on the press conference (click here). Access the Background paper (click here). Access the Summit website for additional information (click here).