Friday, October 30, 2009

Kerry-Boxer (S. 1733) Hearing & Testimony Guide

Oct 30: Following three days of extensive testimony in the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), on the Chairman's Mark of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S. 1733, i.e. Kerry-Boxer bill), the mark up by the full Committee is scheduled to begin on November 3, 2009. The following is a listing and links to all testimony and videos of each day's hearing.

Day 1:
Senator John Kerry (D-MA); Department of Energy; Department of Transportation; Department of the Interior; U.S. EPA; Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; and Department of Agriculture. Webcast, October 27.

Day 2:
Infinia Corporation; Google; Blue Green Alliance; City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Apollo Alliance; Valero Energy Corp; Virginia Manufacturers Association; former Senator John Warner; United States Department of Defense; Center for Naval Analyses; Major General Robert H. Scales (Ret.); Truman National Security Project; The Heritage Foundation; NRG Energy, Inc.; Public Service Enterprise Group Incorporated (PSEG); Long Island Power Authority; Environmental Defense Fund; ICF International; Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives; South Dakota Public Utilities Commission; Maryland Department of the Environment; California Association of Sanitation Agencies; Union of Concerned Scientists; National Wildlife Federation; Quinault Indian Nation; Western Business Roundtable; and American Enterprise Institute. Webcast, October 28.

Day 3:
Rio Tinto; Exelon Corporation; University of Delaware; International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Local 11; Environmental Defense Fund; Ohio Coal Association; American Farm Bureau Federation; Former Representative Sherwood Boehlert, Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Transportation Policy Project; American Public Transportation Association; Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG); Hahn Transportation, Inc.; Center for American Progress Action Fund; Center for Clean Air Policy; World Resources Institute; Competitive Enterprise Institute; California Environmental Protection Agency; Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA); VantagePoint Venture Partners; Natural Resources Defense Council; United Mine Workers of America; CountryMark; and Industrial Energy Consumers of America. Webcast, October 29.

Access a release from Senator Boxer (
click here). Access a 4-page Summary of Allowance Allocations for S. 1733 (click here). Access a 2-page summary of Key Changes in the Chairman’s Mark (click here). Access the 925-page complete Chairman's Mark of S. 1733 (click here). Access EPA's 38-page economic analysis of S. 1733 (click here). Access legislative details for S. 1733 (click here).

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Deutsche Bank Global Climate Change Policy Tracker

Oct 26: Deutsche Bank has released a report it calls, Global Climate Change Policy Tracker: An Investor's Assessment (Climate Tracker), that provides investors with an analysis of climate change policies and assigns a risk rating to 109 countries, states and regions based on key government mandates and supporting policy frameworks. The report was produced by DBCCA [Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisors], working with the Columbia Climate Center at the Earth Institute, Columbia University.

The "Climate Tracker" is the first publicly-available analysis of its kind. It incorporates results of a model prepared by Columbia Climate Center researchers that estimates the impacts on carbon emissions of each of 270 major climate policies, and aggregates them at country, regional and global levels. The "Climate Tracker" provides a risk rating of countries and regions based on their relative attractiveness to investors. It is designed to help investors identify the best risk-adjusted returns in climate change investment opportunities around the world.

Highlights of the research include the following: (1) Even if current and select proposed policies were to make their maximum possible impact, emissions in 2020 would still exceed the amount needed to limit the average world temperature increase to 2 degrees C. To meet such a goal, emissions would need to be reduced further, by an amount equivalent to the current annual emissions of the U.S. economy. (2) More capital is required to mobilize climate change industries, and more action by government is required to attract capital. Investors are most attracted to countries and regions with comprehensive, integrated government plans that are supported by strong incentives, such as feed-in tariffs. (3) Governments must create transparent, long-term, and certain policies to attract capital. While the carbon markets may offer long term solutions, at present investors are driven by on-the-ground mandates and incentives. (4) Energy efficiency could help deliver significant reductions in emissions. Since efficiency provides savings in the long-term, it is essential that governments tackle market failures to encourage capital deployment in this area.

An opening editorial by two DB executives indicates, "This quantitative picture of what is currently being done or proposed provides a reference for policies to be discussed in the upcoming negotiations in Copenhagen. We believe that as a comprehensive exercise at both a policy and country level, this is the only publicly available study of its kind."

The editorial continues, "What investors want is Transparency, Longevity and Certainty – “TLC” – in policy regimes to mobilize capital. As a starting point, we have made what we believe is a unique aggregate risk rating of countries based on key mandates and supporting policy frameworks. While actual capital flows do not follow our rating for every country over the past few years, we believe that investors will become increasingly concerned about regulatory risk and thus countries that deploy a
transparent, long-lived, comprehensive and consistent set of policies will attract global capital. We find that the Major Economies Forum [MEF] on Energy and Climate countries with a lower-risk rating include: Australia, Brazil, China, France,
Germany and Japan.

"A lower-risk rating relies on a comprehensive and integrated government plan, supported by strong incentives, among them feed-in tariffs. We believe that appropriately-designed and budgeted feed-in tariffs have demonstrated their ability to deliver renewable energy at scale. Many major emitters such as the US do not have enough “TLC” in their policy frameworks. Importantly, recent studies have shown that energy efficiency can deliver significant emissions reductions. Since efficiency provides economic savings in the long-term, it is essential that governments incentivize deployment of capital in this area."

DB reports that, "Among the MEF countries, China, Germany, France and Australia all have lower risk profiles for climate change investments. This is because they have strong incentives in place, along with a consistent approach, demonstrated through well-considered plans. All other countries in the MEF are moderate risk, with the exception of Italy, which has struggled to develop a coherent set of policies that would enable it to achieve its targets.

"Notably, the US, UK and Canada are moderate risk as they rely on a more volatile market incentive approach and in the case of the US, have suffered from a stop-start approach in some areas, such as the production tax credit (PTC). However,
when we correlate our ratings against actual capital flows over the past decade, these countries have been strong in absolute dollar terms. This reflects in the large size of their capital and energy markets overall, and in the US and Canada the existence of encouraging state level opportunities."

DB indicates, "The results for the world overall in the context of the forthcoming Copenhagen negotiations provide indeed a sobering picture. The Columbia Climate Center of the Earth Institute, Columbia University has derived a measure of the Business-as-Usual trajectory, which is based on the energy mix and policy regime as of 2007, and shows emissions rising from 47 Gt in 2007 to 59 Gt CO2 equivalents in 2020. Even with the recent economic downturn and a projected slowdown from 2014 – 2020 in emerging market growth, there is still enough growth in Business-as-Usual (BAU) from 2007 – 2020 to leave a 13 to 15 gigaton (Gt) overshoot in emissions over and above the 44 to 46 Gt needed to hit the 450 ppm pathway chosen for this analysis, as outlined by the OECD World Environment Outlook, which scientists hope would limit temperature increases to 2 degrees C. Then the key question was: How far would current announced mandates and emissions targets reduce this excess? We found that even the maximum combination of the most aggressive current mandates and emissions targets, including some proposals such as the American Clean Energy Security Act (ACES), still leaves a 5 to 73 Gt emissions overshoot from a 450 ppm pathway by 2020. If growth does not slow down after 2014, as the IEA assumes and as we have used in our modeling, then this could add another 7 Gt to the task.

"But all is not lost. The world can still get on the right pathway. The IEA has conducted a study of energy technology deployment needed to get from their reference scenario to the 450 ppm pathway in the energy sector. Their analysis indicates that up to 60% of the solution in 2020 can come from energy efficiency – both at power plants, and in end use. Adding this to action on land-use through avoided deforestation creates the possibility of getting close to the 450 ppm scenario. This represents an opportunity to invest to create jobs and growth, and not just a cost. However, it requires a strong deal at Copenhagen, but most importantly, strong follow-through at a sector and industry policy level to create Transparency, Longevity and Certainty."

Access links to an Executive Summary [36-pages], a Detailed Summary of Targets by Region & Country [38-pages], and Detailed Analysis of Targets by Region & Country [378-pages, with extensive links and references] (
click here).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

House Hearing On IT Procurement And E-Waste Disposal

Oct 27: The House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, Subcommittee on Government Management, Organization and Procurement, Chaired by Representative Diane Watson (D-CA) held a hearing entitled, IT Procurement and Disposal: Application of the Federal Government’s Green Policies in the Life Cycle Management of IT Assets. Witnesses testifying included: Rep. Gene Green (D-TX); Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA); Government Accountability Office (GAO); General Services Administration; U.S. EPA; MBA Polymers; Dell, Inc.; Information Technology Industry Council;; and the Green Electronics Council.

In her opening remarks, Chairman Watson indicated that the U.S. Government spends in excess of $70 billion annually on IT investments and disposes of more than 500,000 computers annually, or approximately 10,000 units each week. She said, "While the government’s recycling and disposal programs have strong attributes, I am concerned that many of the programs are voluntary and not sufficiently integrated into the agencies’ core mission. The absence of a clear set of standards and policies is perhaps most evident with the ad hoc treatment of electronic waste, or e-waste, and the fact that national standards for the disposal of electronic products are lacking."

GAO released testimony entitled, Federal Electronics Management: Federal Agencies Could Improve Participation in EPA's Initiatives for Environmentally Preferable Electronic Products (GAO-10-196T, October 27, 2009). GAO indicated that advancing technology has led to increasing sales of new electronic devices. With this increase comes the dilemma of managing them at the end of their useful lives. If discarded with common trash, a number of environmental impacts may result, ranging from the loss of valuable resources to the potential release of toxic substances, such as lead. If recycled, they may be exported to countries with waste management systems that are less protective of human health and the environment that those of the United States.

The Federal government is the world’s largest purchaser of electronics, spending nearly $75 billion on electronic products and services in 2009. U.S. EPA has helped implement several product stewardship initiatives to encourage responsible management of electronic products in all three phases of a product’s lifecycle -- procurement, operation, and end-of-life disposal. In response to a request to provide information on Federal procurement and management of electronic products, GAO’s testimony described (1) EPA’s electronic product stewardship initiatives, (2) Federal agency participation in them, and (3) opportunities for strengthening participation. GAO’s testimony was based on its prior work and updated with data from EPA.

GAO discusses two major programs. The first initiative, the electronic product environmental assessment tool (EPEAT®), was developed along the lines of EPA’s and the Department of Energy’s Energy Star program and assists federal procurement officials in comparing and selecting computers and monitors with environmental attributes that also routinely save money through reduced energy usage over the products’ lives. The second initiative -- the federal electronics challenge (FEC -- helps federal agencies realize the benefits of EPEAT-rated electronics by providing resources to help agencies extend these products’ life spans, operate them in an energy efficient way, and expand markets for recovered materials by recycling them at end of life.

GAO found that the EPEAT and FEC accomplishments are steps in the right direction, but opportunities exist to increase the breadth and depth of federal participation. First, agencies and facilities representing about two-thirds of the federal workforce are not participating in these promising initiatives, despite instructions to do so in implementing Executive Order 13423. Second, few participating agencies and facilities maximize these programs’ resources and their potential benefits.

Rep. Gene Green testified on his efforts in developing H.R. 2595, which amends the Solid Waste Disposal Act, and generally only allows exports for products that can be tracked through the refurbishment process and back to the marketplace to prevent abuse. The bill attempts to address the current problem where much of the e-waste collected in the U.S. and exported for alleged “recycling” or “reuse” is actually exported to developing nations such as China, Ghana, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Thailand for unsafe salvage and metals recovery.

Access the hearing website for links to all testimony and a webcast (
click here).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

President Announces $3.4 Billion In Smart Grid Investments

Oct 27: Speaking at Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, President Barack Obama announced the largest single energy grid modernization investment in U.S. history, funding a broad range of technologies that will spur the nation’s transition to a smarter, stronger, more efficient and reliable electric system. The end result will promote energy-saving choices for consumers, increase efficiency, and foster the growth of renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

The $3.4 billion in grant awards announced are part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, and will be matched by industry funding for a total public-private investment worth over $8 billion. Applicants state that the projects will create tens of thousands of jobs, and consumers in 49 states will benefit from these investments in a stronger, more reliable grid. DOE indicates in a release that an analysis by the Electric Power Research Institute estimates that the implementation of smart grid technologies could reduce electricity use by more than 4 percent by 2030. That would mean a savings of $20.4 billion for businesses and consumers around the country.

One-hundred private companies, utilities, manufacturers, cities and other partners received the Smart Grid Investment Grant awards. In the coming days, Cabinet Members and Administration officials will fan out to awardee sites across the country to discuss how this investment will create jobs, improve the reliability and efficiency of the electrical grid, and help bring clean energy sources from high-production states to those with less renewable generating capacity. The awards announced represent the largest group of Recovery Act awards ever made in a single day and the largest batch of Recovery Act clean energy grant awards to-date.

According to DOE, the announcements include: Empowering Consumers to Save Energy and Cut Utility Bills -- $1 billion; Making Electricity Distribution and Transmission More Efficient -- $400 million; Integrating and Crosscutting Across Different “Smart” Components of a Smart Grid -- $2 billion; and Building a Smart Grid Manufacturing Industry -- $25 million.

Among other improvements from the investments the funding will: Install more than 850 sensors - called ‘Phasor Measurement Units’ - that will cover 100 percent of the U.S. electric grid and make it possible for grid operators to better monitor grid conditions and prevent minor disturbances in the electrical system from cascading into local or regional power outages or blackouts; Install more than 200,000 smart transformers that will make it possible for power companies to replace units before they fail thus saving money and reducing power outages; Install almost 700 automated substations, representing about 5 percent of the nation’s total that will make it possible for power companies to respond faster and more effectively to restore service when bad weather knocks down power lines or causes electricity disruptions; Install more than 1 million in-home displays, 170,000 smart thermostats, and 175,000 other load control devices to enable consumers to reduce their energy use.

Additionally, DOE indicates the investments will reduce peak electricity demand by more than 1400 MW, which is the equivalent of several larger power plants and can save ratepayers more than $1.5 billion in capital costs and help lower utility bills. Since peak electricity is the most expensive energy -- and requires the use of standby power generation plants – the economic and environmental savings for even a small reduction are significant. In fact, some of the power plants for meeting peak demand operate for only a few hundred hours a year, which means the power they generate can be 5-10 times more expensive than the average price per kilowatt hour paid by most consumers.

Access a release from DOE (
click here). Access the full text of the President's remarks (click here). Access the full listings of the grant awards by category and state (click here); and (click here). Access a map of the awards (click here).

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chairman's Mark & Economic Analysis For Kerry-Boxer (S. 1733) Bill

Oct 23: Late Friday, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, released the text of the Chairman's Mark of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S. 1733, i.e. Kerry-Boxer bill). Senator Boxer said, "We've reached another milestone as we move to a clean energy future, creating millions of jobs and protecting our children from dangerous pollution. I look forward to the hearings and the markup as we move ahead to the next step."

According to a release from Senator Boxer, new and revised language in the Chairman's Mark include: • Specifies distribution of emissions allowances; • Ensures that the majority of investments in the bill are for consumer protection; • Includes new provisions to address clean coal technology; • Increases investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy; • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions and increases investments in the transportation sector; • Enhances agriculture and forestry provisions; • Directs assistance to rural communities; • Includes greater assistance for small and medium refineries; • Enhances the role of tribes;• Increases the size of the market stability reserve; and • Promotes advanced renewable fuels.

U.S. EPA also released a detailed economic analysis of The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act that found no significant change in the estimated cost to American families, compared with H.R. 2454, the Waxman-Markey legislation approved by the House this past summer. EPA's analysis of the House bill found that "average household consumption would be reduced by less than 1% in all years" compared with a business-as-usual scenario, and estimated the overall impact on the average household would be 22 to 30 cents per day ($80 to $111 per year).

On Tuesday, October 27, the Senator Boxer reminded that the Environment and Public Works Committee will start comprehensive legislative hearings on the bill. Senators will hear testimony from nine panels totaling 54 witnesses over the course of three days. Senator Boxer has indicated that the EPW Committee will mark up the legislation as soon as possible following the completion of legislative hearings (See links below for hearing and witness information).

Of interest in the allowance allocations for S. 1733, customers of electric utilities will receive approximately 35% of distributed allowances, representing a significant portion of current utility emissions. Local electric distribution companies (LDCs), whose rates are regulated by the States, will receive 30% of the allowances, which are required to be used to protect consumers from electricity price increases. Merchant coal and long-term power purchase agreements will receive 5% of the allowances. The allowances will phase out over a five-year period from 2026 through 2030.

Additionally, 15% of distributed allowances will be auctioned each year with the proceeds distributed to low- and moderate-income families to protect against any energy cost increases. The allocation increases to 18.5% after 2029. Also, from 2012 through 2029, 10% of allowances annually will be auctioned with the proceeds used to reduce the Federal deficit, increasing to 22% in 2030 through 2039 and 25% from 2040 through 2050.

Regarding investments in "clean coal" the Chairman's Mark includes new provisions to stimulate development of commercial-scale carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies; The bonus allowance program is modified to allow for advanced payments of bonus allowances for early actors with a requirement that funded projects will achieve at least a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions; Provisions that require coal fired power plants to meet emissions performance standards once sufficient commercial-scale CCS technology has been deployed, while also ensuring timely reductions in global warming pollution from coal plants.

Also, regarding agriculture impacts the summary indicates, "A more robust supplemental agriculture and forestry program is included with allocations throughout the life of the bill. The Supplemental Agriculture and Forestry Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Renewable Energy Program is strengthened to ensure measurable reductions in global warming pollution."

In its economic analysis, U.S. EPA indicates, ". . . it is important to recognize that some minor differences between the policy designs in H.R. 2454 and S. 1733 are made irrelevant by the set-up of the models. . . EPA’s assessment of the two bills indicates that the full suite of EPA models would likely show that the impacts of S. 1733 would be similar to those estimated for H.R. 2454."

EPA notes that the 2020 cap level in S. 1733 requires a 20% reduction from 2005 emissions levels instead of the 17% reduction required in H.R. 2454. Moving from a 17% to 20% target would raise costs slightly in the models. Also, EPA indicates that S. 1733 allows landfill and coal mine CH4 as offset sources, whereas H.R. 2454 instead subjected them to performance
standards. This will lower costs slightly and result in a small increase in overall emissions.

Outspoken critic of climate change science and legislation, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, issued a statement late Friday night after receiving what he called "incomplete analysis of the Kerry-Boxer cap-and-trade bill from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)," along with the latest version of the Kerry-Boxer bill from Chairman Boxer.

Senator Inhofe said, “It's not unreasonable to demand that a committee, prior to legislative hearings, would actually have the bill in question with adequate time for review and analysis. On top of that, one would think that, prior to legislative hearings, the committee would have a thorough, comprehensive economic analysis to understand how a 900-plus page bill, designed to fundamentally reshape the American economy, affects consumers, small businesses, farmers, and American families. But this is clearly not the case. Instead, the majority prefers to keep this bill under wraps for the very straightforward reason that it will destroy jobs, stifle economic growth, and tax the energy Americans use every day.”

Access a release from Senator Boxer (
click here). Access a 4-page Summary of Allowance Allocations for S. 1733 (click here). Access a 2-page summary of Key Changes in the Chairman’s Mark (click here). Access the 925-page complete Chairman's Mark of S. 1733 (click here). Access EPA's 38-page economic analysis of S. 1733 (click here). Access additional climate legislation economic analyses from EPA (click here). Access the hearing websites for Oct. 27 (click here); Oct. 28 (click here); and Oct. 29 (click here), for webcasts and links to testimony.

Friday, October 23, 2009

House Hearing On Climate Change Adaptation Strategies

Oct 22: The House Select Committee on Energy Independence & Global Warming, Chaired by Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) held a hearing entitled, "Building U.S. Resilience to Global Warming Impacts." The hearing focused on the consequences of global warming in the United States which the Committee indicated "will be significant even in the case of deep reductions in future heat-trapping emissions." According to a hearing announcement, "The current and anticipated impacts -- including sea level rise, more frequent heat waves, regional drought and flooding, and more intense tropical storms -- pose a serious threat to our health, environment, economic well-being, and national security. While Congress works to curb carbon pollution to avoid the worst effects of global warming, America must look at adaptation measures that will protect communities from harm caused by global warming that is already set to occur."

Major testimony and reports delivered to the Committee were from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Additional testimony was provided by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). In an opening statement, Chairman Markey said, "Government leadership failed the people of New Orleans when they needed help most. Katrina foreshadows the consequences of climate change if we do not make the necessary preparations. . .

"We face not only an increasing number of strong storms, but also many permanent alterations that will affect people throughout the country. Coastal cities like Boston will be at risk of inundation from sea level rise, which is accelerating as our oceans warm and our polar ice caps melt. Alaskan villages are finding the land they call home literally melting out from underneath them as the permafrost thaws. In the West, our shrinking mountain snowpack strains our water resource systems. Throughout this country, our farms are threatened by rising temperatures, water scarcity, and pests. . .

"In a new report that I requested, the Government Accountability Office assesses the current steps our country is taking to address the impacts of global warming. They find that federal efforts thus far have been largely ad hoc. To effectively address the impacts, we need a strategic plan that sets our priorities, improves the information available to decision-makers, and clarifies the roles and responsibilities of federal, state, and local governments.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a letter report entitled, Climate Change Adaptation: Strategic Federal Planning Could Help Government Officials Make More Informed Decisions, (GAO-10-113, October 7, 2009, 86-pages). GAO also delivered a supplemental report entitled, Climate Change Adaptation: Information on Selected Federal Efforts To Adapt To a Changing Climate (GAO-10-114SP, October 7, 2009, 101-pages). And finally, GAO's testimony was titled the same as the main report, Climate Change Adaptation: Strategic Federal Planning Could Help Officials Make More Informed Decisions (GAO-10-175T, October 22, 2009, 9-pages).

In its main report, GAO indicated that, "Changes in the climate attributable to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases may have significant impacts in the United States and the world. For example, climate change could threaten coastal areas with rising sea levels. Greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere will continue altering the climate system into the future, regardless of emissions control efforts. Therefore, adaptation -- defined as adjustments to natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climate change -- is an important part of the response to climate change."

GAO was asked to examine (1) what actions federal, state, local, and international authorities are taking to adapt to a changing climate; (2) the challenges that federal, state, and local officials face in their efforts to adapt; and (3) actions that Congress and federal agencies could take to help address these challenges. We also discuss our prior work on similarly complex, interdisciplinary issues. This report is based on analysis of studies, site visits to areas pursuing adaptation efforts, and responses to a web-based questionnaire sent to federal, state, and local officials.

GAO found that while available information indicates that many governments have not yet begun to adapt to climate change, some federal, state, local, and international authorities have started to act. GAO said the challenges faced by federal, state, and local officials in their efforts to adapt fell into three categories, based on GAO's analysis of questionnaire results, site visits, and available studies. (1) competing priorities make it difficult to pursue adaptation efforts when there may be more immediate needs for attention and resources. (2) a lack of site-specific data, such as local projections of expected changes, can reduce the ability of officials to manage the effects of climate change. (3) adaptation efforts are constrained by a lack of clear roles and responsibilities among federal, state, and local agencies.

GAO's analysis also found that potential federal actions for addressing challenges to adaptation efforts fell into three areas. (1) training and education efforts could increase awareness among government officials and the public about the impacts of climate change and available adaptation strategies. (2) actions to provide and interpret site-specific information would help officials understand the impacts of climate change at a scale that would enable them to respond. (3) Congress and federal agencies could encourage adaptation by clarifying roles and responsibilities.

In its testimony, GAO summed up the recommendations in its reports saying, "Given the complexity and potential magnitude of climate change and the lead time needed to adapt, preparing for these impacts now may reduce the need for far more costly steps in the decades to come. . . our report released today recommends that the appropriate entities within the Executive Office of the President, such as CEQ and the Office of Science and Technology Policy, in consultation with relevant federal agencies, state and local governments, and key congressional committees of jurisdiction, develop a national strategic plan that will guide the nation’s efforts to adapt to a changing climate.

"The plan should, among other things, (1) define federal priorities related to adaptation; (2) clarify roles, responsibilities, and working relationships among federal, state, and local governments; (3) identify mechanisms to increase the capacity of federal, state, and local agencies to incorporate information about current and potential climate change impacts into government decision making; (4) address how resources will be made available to implement the plan; and (5) build on and integrate ongoing federal planning efforts related to adaptation."

The Pew Center testified that, "To ensure that adaptation is considered in all major federal actions, we recommend issuing clarifying regulations under NEPA. These regulations would make it clear that climate change needs to be considered in the planning stage of any major federal action. CEQ is responsible for NEPA’s implementation, while EPA’s Office of Federal Activities reviews environmental impact statements. We suggest establishing an interagency working group to prepare the proposed regulatory changes and to develop guidance for agencies in preparing EISs."

AEI testified, "First, I believe that we should shift our focus from mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions toward an adaptation agenda. We do not, at present, have the technologies needed to significantly curb greenhouse gas emissions without causing massive economic disruption. . . Second, I believe that we should stop making things worse. That is, we should remove the misguided incentives that lead people to live in climatically fragile areas such as the water’s edge, drought-prone locations, flood-prone locations, and so on. . . Third, we must look to our infrastructure. Another government action that leads people to live in harm's way is the failure to build and price infrastructure so that it is both sustainable, and resilient to change. . . Establishing market pricing of infrastructure would quickly steer people away from climatically fragile areas, dramatically reducing the costs of dealing with climate variability. . . "

Access the hearing website for links to testimony (including GAO's, 9-pages) and opening statements (
click here). Access the main GAO 86-page report (click here). Access the supplemental GAO 101-page report (click here).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

India & China Sign Climate Pact In Advance Of Copenhagen

Oct 21: The Republic of China and the Government of the Republic of India have signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on Cooperation on Addressing Climate Change. The MOA was signed in India by the Minister of State for Environment and Forests Shri Jairam Ramesh and Xie Zhenhua, Vice Chairman, Minister, National Development and Reform Commission, China. According to a release, the Agreement would strengthen the cooperative activities between China and India on mitigation, programmes, projects, technology development and demonstration relating to greenhouse gas emission reduction including energy conservation efficiency, renewable energies, clean coal, methane recovery and utilization, afforestation and sustainable management of forests and ecosystems, transportation and sustainable habitat.

According to the MOA the two nations are, "Desirous of further promoting friendship between India and China, Acknowledging that climate change and its adverse effects are the common concern of humankind, which need to be addressed through international co-operation, Emphasizing that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol are the most appropriate framework for addressing climate change, Reaffirming the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, in particular that developed countries should take the lead in and continue to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and providing financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building support to developing countries, Noting that India and China have announced their National Action Plans on Climate Change to achieve a sustainable development path which provides, inter alia, for international cooperation for research, development, sharing and transfer of technologies in relation to climate change, Determined to enhance dialogue, communication and pragmatic bilateral cooperation between the Two Sides in addressing climate change . . ."

The agreement indicates that the Two Sides agree to establish the India-China Partnership on Combating Climate Change; agree to establish an India- China Working Group on Climate Change; agree to strengthen their exchange of views and cooperation, inter alia, on mitigation policies, programmes, projects, technology development and demonstration relating to greenhouse gas emission reduction; and agree to strengthen their cooperation in basic capacity building.

According to a report in China View, "China and India shared extensive common interests in tackling the climate change [and] the two countries are newly emerged major developing countries, which are seeking their own development while promoting international cooperation to deal with climate change. . . both countries are important participants of Copenhagen climate change negotiations. Their decisions on enhancing climate change cooperation are not only in their own interests, but also helpful to global efforts in combating climate change."

An article in China Daily, quotes India's Ramesh as saying, "There is no difference between the Indian and Chinese negotiating positions and we are discussing further what the two countries should be doing for a successful outcome at Copenhagen." China's Xie said that the "climate change is the result of unrestricted emission of greenhouse gases by developed countries in two centuries of industrialization. . . both China and India are developing countries and most vulnerable to climate change's adverse effects. Both countries are also in the accelerating stage of industrialization and urbanization and are faced with the multiple tasks of developing economy, wiping out poverty, improving people' s life standard and protecting environment. . .

"As long as China and India further coordinate and cooperation over climate change, they can surely help bring about a solution in negotiations by the international community, which would take into account both environment protection and development of all countries." Xie also said that "while all countries expect UN Copenhagen Climate Summit to be a milestone, the talks are being stalled because some developed countries are trying to minimize their duties on reducing emission and capital and technology transfer."

Bloomberg posted a lengthy article on the India-China deal quoting Olav Roenningen, senior analyst at the carbon markets advisory firm Markedskraft in Arendal, Norway who said, “They’re trying to gain leverage going into Copenhagen and show the world they have other options if the global talks break down." Bloomberg reported, "The New Delhi accord shows how support may be eroding for a global treaty that United Nations negotiators aim to conclude this December in Copenhagen. Led by China and India, developing nations are devising similar regional agreements after failing to convince wealthier countries including the U.S. to share clean-energy technology or to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions by 40 percent in 2020 from 1990 levels."

Access a release and the complete agreement (
click here). Access the China View article (click here). Access the China Daily article (click here). Access the Bloomberg article (click here).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

UNFCCC Releases Latest Industrialized Countries GHG Data

Oct 21: The UN Climate Change Secretariat in Bonn, Germany has released the latest data on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from industrialized countries increased in 2007, which continued the upward trend of the previous six years. According to a release, data submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) show that greenhouse gas emissions of the 40 industrialized countries that have reporting obligations under the Convention rose by 1% from 2006 to 2007. The 2007 emissions of this group of countries are about 4% below 1990 levels. But there was overall a 3% growth in emissions in the period from 2000 to 2007.

For the smaller group of 37 industrialized countries that have targets under the Kyoto Protocol, emissions in 2007 were almost the same as in 2006 (+0.1%). The figure is around 16% below the 1990 Kyoto baseline for industrialized countries with targets. However, UNFCCC notes that much of the reduction comes from the economic decline of economies in transition (countries in eastern and central Europe) in the 1990s and since 2000, the emissions have also been growing for this group (+3%).

Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC said, “The continuing growth of emissions from industrialized countries remains worrying, despite the expectation of a momentary dip brought about by the global recession. So the numbers for 2007 underscore, once again, the urgent need to seal a comprehensive, fair and effective climate change deal in Copenhagen in December.

The UNFCCC secretariat has also released a report with summary data on transactions conducted in 2008 by industrialized countries in the course of implementing the market mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol. According to the data, industrialized countries have 55 billion tonnes of Kyoto Protocol units in their accounts. Some of these units were already traded among countries in 2008, and trading is expected to increase significantly in the coming years.

De Boer said, “It is exciting to see how the carbon market evolved in 2008. I am sure that such data will become more conclusive as we move closer to 2012, the final year of the first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, and will show how policies and measures of the countries that have ratified the Protocol bear fruit. However, the ultimate size of the carbon market and its effectiveness to reduce global emissions will depend critically on the level of ambition shown by industrialized countries in Copenhagen."

Access a release from UNFCCC (
click here). Access the Annual compilation and accounting report for 37 Annex B Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (click here). Access the Addendum to the Annual compilation and accounting report for 37 Annex B Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (click here). Access the National greenhouse gas inventory data for the period 1990 - 2007, Annex I Parties (click here). Access a Q&A document on relating to the GHG data interface and data availability on the UNFCCC (click here).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NAS Report Estimates $120+ Billion/Yr. In Hidden Costs Of Energy

Oct 19: A report from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), National Research Council (NRC) -- Hidden Costs Of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production And Use -- examines and, when possible, estimates "hidden" costs of energy production and use -- such as the damage air pollution imposes on human health -- that are not reflected in market prices of coal, oil, other energy sources, or the electricity and gasoline produced from them. The report estimates dollar values for several major components of the costs. The damages the committee was able to quantify were an estimated $120 billion in the U.S. in 2005, a number that reflects primarily health damages from air pollution associated with electricity generation and motor vehicle transportation. The figure does not include damages from climate change, harm to ecosystems, effects of some air pollutants such as mercury, and risks to national security, which the report examines but does not monetize.

Requested by Congress, the report assesses what economists call external effects caused by various energy sources over their entire life cycle -- for example, not only the pollution generated when gasoline is used to run a car but also the pollution created by extracting and refining oil and transporting fuel to gas stations. Because these effects are not reflected in energy prices, government, businesses and consumers may not realize the full impact of their choices. When such market failures occur, a case can be made for government interventions -- such as regulations, taxes or tradable permits -- to address these external costs, the report says.

The committee that wrote the report focused on monetizing the damage of major air pollutants -- sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone, and particulate matter -- on human health, grain crops and timber yields, buildings, and recreation. When possible, it estimated both what the damages were in 2005 (the latest year for which data were available) and what they are likely to be in 2030, assuming current policies continue and new policies already slated for implementation are put in place.

The committee also separately derived a range of values for damages from climate change; the wide range of possibilities for these damages made it impossible to develop precise estimates of cost. However, all model results available to the committee indicate that climate-related damages caused by each ton of CO2 emissions will be far worse in 2030 than now; even if the total amount of annual emissions remains steady, the damages caused by each ton would increase 50 percent to 80 percent.

Coal accounts for about half the electricity produced in the U.S. In 2005 the total annual external damages from sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter created by burning coal at 406 coal-fired power plants, which produce 95 percent of the nation's coal-generated electricity, were about $62 billion; these nonclimate damages average about 3.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour (kwh) of energy produced. A relatively small number of plants -- 10 percent of the total number -- accounted for 43 percent of the damages. By 2030, nonclimate damages are estimated to fall to 1.7 cents per kwh. Coal-fired power plants are the single largest source of greenhouse gases in the U.S., emitting on average about a ton of CO2 per megawatt-hour of electricity produced. Climate-related monetary damages range from 0.1 cents to 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, based on previous modeling studies.

Burning natural gas generated far less damage than coal, both overall and per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated. A sample of 498 natural gas fueled plants, which accounted for 71 percent of gas-generated electricity, produced $740 million in total nonclimate damages in 2005, an average of 0.16 cents per kwh. As with coal, there was a vast difference among plants; half the plants account for only 4 percent of the total nonclimate damages from air pollution, while 10 percent produce 65 percent of the damages. By 2030, nonclimate damages are estimated to fall to 0.11 cents per kwh. Estimated climate damages from natural gas were half that of coal, ranging from 0.05 cents to 5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The life-cycle damages of wind power, which produces just over 1 percent of U.S. electricity but has large growth potential, are small compared with those from coal and natural gas. So are the damages associated with normal operation of the nation's 104 nuclear reactors, which provide almost 20 percent of the country’s electricity. The report indicates, however, that the life cycle of nuclear power does pose some risks; if uranium mining activities contaminate ground or surface water, for example, people could potentially be exposed to radon or other radionuclides; this risk is borne mostly by other nations, the report says, because the U.S. mines only 5 percent of the world’s uranium. The potential risks from a proposed long-term facility for storing high-level radioactive waste need further evaluation before they can be quantified. Life-cycle CO2 emissions from nuclear, wind, biomass, and solar power appear to be negligible when compared with fossil fuels.

The report also looks at the "damages from heating" and the "damages from motor vehicles and fuels." It is estimated that the median damages in residential and commercial buildings were about 11 cents per thousand cubic feet. The committee evaluated damages for a variety of types of vehicles and fuels over their full life cycles, from extracting and transporting the fuel to manufacturing and operating the vehicle. In most cases, operating the vehicle accounted for less than one-third of the quantifiable nonclimate damages.

The report indicates that both for 2005 and 2030, vehicles using gasoline made from oil extracted from tar sands and those using diesel derived from the Fischer-Tropsch process -- which converts coal, methane, or biomass to liquid fuel -- had the highest life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions. Vehicles using ethanol made from corn stover or herbaceous feedstock such as switchgrass had some of the lowest greenhouse gas emissions, as did those powered by compressed natural gas.

Access a lengthy release from NAS (click here). Access links to the full text and an expanded executive summary (click here).

Monday, October 19, 2009

Major Economies Forum Meets In London

Oct 19: UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF) meeting in London on October 18-19, "In every era there are only one or two moments when nations come together and reach agreements that make history -- because they change the course of history. Copenhagen must be such a time. There are now fewer than fifty days to set the course of the next fifty years and more. So, as we convene here, we carry great responsibilities, and the world is watching. If we do not reach a deal at this time, let us be in no doubt: once the damage from unchecked emissions growth is done, no retrospective global agreement, in some future period, can undo that choice. By then it will be irretrievably too late."

The MEF consists of the 17 economies that emit the most carbon dioxide waste -- Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, the U.K. and the U.S. The London MEF meeting follows two-weeks of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) tension-filled climate negotiations in Bangkok that concluded on October 9 [See WIMS 10/9/09] and precedes an upcoming continuing session in Barcelona on November 2-6 -- all preceding the major meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark December 7-18, just 48 days from now.

Brown continued in his MEF address that, "Only last week we saw new evidence of the rapid loss of Arctic sea ice. And in just 25 years the glaciers in the Himalayas which provide water for three-quarters of a billion people could disappear entirely." He said, "This is the great injustice of climate change: those being hit first and hardest by climate change are those who have done the least to cause it."

Brown indicated, "In just the last few weeks new commitments and announcements have spurred new progress. . . So I believe agreement at Copenhagen is possible. But we must frankly face the plain fact that our negotiators are not getting to agreement quickly enough. Before Copenhagen, there is just one more negotiating week: in Barcelona." Brown outlined what he considers the issues were negotiators "urgently need convergence" on 4 principal issues for any agreement: (1) binding economy-wide caps in the mid-term for developed countries and nationally appropriate mitigation actions for developing ones; (2) finance, including for adaptation, forestry, technology and capacity building; (3) technology co-operation, including specific action plans in areas such as solar power and carbon capture and storage; and (4) and national communications and monitoring, reporting and verification.

Access links to the MEF concluding press conference, PM Brown's statement and related information on the meeting from the official UK government website for activities in the lead up to global climate change negotiations (
click here). Access a transcript of an interview with Ed Miliband , UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (click here). Access a Bloomberg article on Todd Stern comments (click here). Access a second Bloomberg article on the possible Obama attendance in Copenhagen (click here). Access the UNFCCC website for links to information on the Barcelona meetings (click here).

Friday, October 16, 2009

Recommitting To The Clean Water Act After 37 Years

Oct 15: The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, Chaired by Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) held a hearing entitled, The Clean Water Act after 37 Years: Recommitting to the Protection of the Nation's Waters. Witnesses testifying at the hearing included: U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson; and representatives from the: Sandy Hook Waterman’s Alliance; American Nurses Association; Government Accountability Office (GAO); EPA Office of the Inspector General (OIG); Environmental Council of the States; Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators; Environment America; Tulane University and Erb Institute, University of Michigan; Environmental Integrity Project; and a resident of the Town of Luxemburg in Kewaunee County Wisconsin. Full Committee Chair Representative James Oberstar (D-MN) and Representative Johnson both issued opening statements.

Chairman Oberstar opened the hearing stating, "Our charge today is to examine the implementation and effectiveness of the Clean Water Act as it stands in 2009. In doing so, we must distinguish between those goals met and unmet – and explore the reasons why. Nearly two years ago, we gathered in this room to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act. That was a hearing of great personal significance to me. As many of you know, I was a staffer on the Committee on Public Works and Transportation when Congress overrode President Nixon’s veto to pass the Clean Water Act into law in 1972."

He continued, "Regrettably, we are faced today with a situation where these elements are incomplete and eroding, and as one might expect, it appears that we are losing ground with respect to the water quality goals of the Clean Water Act. . . I assure you, without an effective enforcement program, run by both the states and EPA, we will not fulfill the central goals of the Clean Water Act."

Representative Oberstar outlined three major questions which he said he would like to have answered: (1) Are we effectively using the tools given to us by the Clean Water Act to achieve our water quality goals? (2) Do we currently have a credible state and federal enforcement program that will help us protect the environment and public health? And, (3) is there a level playing field for environmental compliance – both to ensure fair treatment of facilities covered under the Clean Water Act, as well as to ensure consistent protection of the nation’s waters and public health.

EPA Administrator Jackson used the hearing to announce that the agency is stepping up its efforts on Clean Water Act enforcement. She indicated that the "Clean Water Action Enforcement Plan" is a first step in revamping the compliance and enforcement program. It seeks to improve the protection of the nation’s water quality, raise the bar in Federal and state performance and enhance public transparency. She said, “The safety of the water that we use in our homes -- the water we drink and give to our children -- is of paramount importance to our health and our environment. Having clean and safe water in our communities is a right that should be guaranteed for all Americans. Updating our efforts under the Clean Water Act will promote innovative solutions for 21st century water challenges, build stronger ties between EPA, state, and local actions, and provide the transparency the public rightfully expects.”

EPA's plan outlines how the Agency will strengthen the way it addresses the water pollution challenges of this century. EPA said the challenges include pollution caused by numerous, dispersed sources, such as concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), sewer overflows, contaminated water that flows from industrial facilities, construction sites, and runoff from urban streets. The goals of the plan are to target enforcement to the most significant pollution problems, improve transparency and accountability by providing the public with access to better data on the water quality in their communities, and strengthen enforcement performance at the state and federal levels.

Elements of the plan include the following: (1) Develop more comprehensive approaches to ensure enforcement is targeted to the most serious violations and the most significant sources of pollution. (2) Work with states to ensure greater consistency throughout the country with respect to compliance and water quality. Ensure that states are issuing protective permits and taking enforcement to achieve compliance and remove economic incentives to violate the law. (3) Use 21st century information technology to collect, analyze and use information in new, more efficient ways and to make that information readily accessible to the public. Better tools will help federal and state regulators identify serious compliance problems quickly and take prompt actions to correct them.

Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP (Honigman), one of the WIMS Corporate Sponsors, has issued an Environmental Alert providing further details on EPA's Clean Water Action Enforcement Plan. Honigman said, "U.S. EPA’s proposed actions have the potential to change the relationship between state regulators and U.S. EPA, change how permits are written and enforced, and make additional information publicly available." [See link below]

GAO released testimony entitled, Longstanding Issues Impact EPA's and States' Enforcement Efforts (GAO-10-165T, October 15, 2009). GAO said that over the last 9 years it has undertaken a number of reviews of EPA’s environmental enforcement activities, including for the Clean Water Act. GAO said it was asked to summarize the results of five prior reports on the effectiveness of EPA’s enforcement program. Specifically, GAO statement includes information on the (1) factors that cause variations in enforcement activities and lead to inconsistencies across regions, (2) impact that inadequate resources and work force planning has had on enforcement, (3) efforts EPA has taken to improve priority planning, and (4) accuracy and transparency of measures of program effectiveness. GAO said its "prior recommendations have included the need for EPA to collect more complete and reliable data, develop improved guidance, and better performance measures. Although EPA has generally agreed with these recommendations, its implementation has been uneven."

Access the hearing website for an 8-page background document, a webcast and links to all testimony and opening statements (
click here). Access a release from EPA and link to the details of the Clean Water Action Enforcement Plan (click here). Access the Honigman Environmental Law Department website for more information (click here). Access information on becoming a WIMS Corporate Sponsor (click here).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Senate Hearings Explore Climate Change Cost & Compromise

Oct 14: While the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) has announced its schedule for considering climate change legislation including critical testimony during the week of October 27, and a Committee markup in early November [See WIMS 10/14/09], the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee (ENR), Chaired by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) is also conducting a series of climate change hearings.

On October 14, ENR held a hearing on the economic effects of global climate change legislation which included testimony from experts from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and U.S. EPA on energy and related economic effects of global climate change legislation [See details below]. On October 21, ENR has scheduled another in its series of hearings on energy and climate change. The focal point will be on costs and benefits for energy consumers and energy prices associated with the allocation of greenhouse gas emission allowances.

On September 15, ENR examined potential costs and price volatility in the energy sector as a result of a greenhouse gas trading program, plus ways to reduce/contain those costs [
See WIMS 9/16/09]. Also, on June 17, 2009, the ENR approved on a voted 15 to 8 to a bipartisan energy bill that was several months in the making. The bill, the American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009 (S.1462) was based on six major bills -- all with bipartisan sponsorship -- and five other bills with either Republican or Democratic sponsorship that were introduced in this session of Congress [See WIMS 6/17/09].

The October 14, ENR hearing included testimony from CBO, EIA, CRS and U.S. EPA. Chairman Bingaman indicated in an opening comment, “As the Senate continues to consider ways to deal with the global environmental problem of climate change, much of the discussion centers around the overall costs and benefits of such a program, and how the costs and benefits will be distributed throughout our economy. Addressing the issue of climate change will require a radical transformation of our energy sector, so this Committee will continue to take a great interest in this topic in the months ahead. . . in today’s hearing we will receive testimony on the various economic models and analyses of the American Clean Energy Security Act, or ACES, that was passed by the House of Representatives this past June.

“While no one can say for certain what the future holds, scientific and economic models can be used as tools to approximate reality and help us understand how the environment, or the economy, may react to policies we enact. Models can be very useful tools for estimating what a particular program may cost, showing how particular goals may be best achieved, and revealing where the economy may be most sensitive to the choices we make. They are imperfect tools, however, and models have often been used or manipulated to make a pre-determined point and show favorable or unfavorable results for any given policy. . .

“In the case of cap-and-trade programs and climate legislation, we can use real-world experiences alongside model analysis to keep us grounded in reality. For example, the cap-and-trade system for sulfur dioxide set up by the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments was an unprecedented environmental success in combating acid rain, and cost only about a quarter of the price that economic models were projecting. The greenhouse gas emissions trading program in Europe has shown that emissions trading can be successful at reducing emissions without having a disastrous effect on the economy. While it is true that the European Emissions Trading program experienced significant volatility in its initial, experimental phase, they have learned from their trial period and made important improvements to their system. We should keep these experiences in mind as we consider projections for the future under cap-and-trade. Today the witnesses will explain the strengths and weaknesses of the different models that have been used to analyze the ACES legislation . . .”

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), ENR Ranking Member issued a statement saying, “We must ensure that climate change does not endanger our recovery, and we must seek to reduce energy prices, not drive them up. . . Economic assessments of climate change bills vary greatly. However, every analyses projects two things in common: higher energy prices and lower economic growth. The proposals before us will affect not only climate change, but every facet of our economy for decades to come. It’s incredibly difficult to conduct a sensitive and comprehensive analysis of climate change bills, but it’s equally important to know how those bills might work and what they may cost.”

Senator Murkowski also noted that she hoped the framework for climate policy laid out by Senators John Kerry (D-MA), and Lindsay Graham (R-SC), would mark a turning point in the climate debate. Referring to an October 11, op-ed published in the New York Times entitled, "Yes We Can (Pass Climate Change Legislation)," by Senators Kerry and Graham; Murkowski said, “They wrote a column, not a bill, and I do believe it could be improved. But in my opinion, the framework they laid out in those 1,000 words is already better than the policies it took the House 1,400 pages to impose. Instead of cutting emissions at any cost, we should be working on policy that incorporates the best ideas of both parties -- a policy that accounts for our near-term energy needs, limits costs, and is flexible enough to work under different economic circumstances." In closing, Murkowski indicated she "supports addressing climate change in an economically safe and environmentally meaningful way."

The "Yes We Can. . ." column by Senators Kerry and Graham, indicated in part, ". . .we refuse to accept the argument that the United States cannot lead the world in addressing global climate change. . . Our partnership represents a fresh attempt to find consensus that adheres to our core principles and leads to both a climate change solution and energy independence. It begins now, not months from now -- with a road to 60 votes in the Senate. . ." In should be noted that Senator Graham was severely criticized by conservatives at a townhall meeting following the op-ed for "jumping in bed with" Senator Kerry.

The op-ed indicates that the two Senators are agreeing on the following: (1) that climate change is real and threatens our economy and national security; (2) while we invest in renewable energy sources like wind and solar, we must also take advantage of nuclear power; (3) climate change legislation is an opportunity to get serious about breaking our dependence on foreign oil; (4) recognize that for the foreseeable future we will continue to burn fossil fuels; (5) committed to seeking compromise on additional onshore and offshore oil and gas exploration; (6) cannot sacrifice another job to competitors overseas and should consider a border tax on items produced in countries that avoid environmental standards; and (7) developing a mechanism to protect businesses -- and ultimately consumers -- from increases in energy prices.

The Senators conclude, "The message to those who have stalled for years is clear: killing a Senate bill is not success; indeed, given the threat of agency regulation, those who have been content to make the legislative process grind to a halt would later come running to Congress in a panic to secure the kinds of incentives and investments we can pass today. Industry needs the certainty that comes with Congressional action. We are confident that a legitimate bipartisan effort can put America back in the lead again and can empower our negotiators to sit down at the table in Copenhagen in December and insist that the rest of the world join us in producing a new international agreement on global warming. . ."

Access the ENR October 14 hearing website for links to all testimony and a webcast (click here). Access a release from Sen. Bingaman (click here). Access a release from Sen. Murkowski (click here). Access the compete op-ed from Sens. Kerry & Graham (click here). Access legislative details for S. 1462 (click here).

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sen. Boxer Sets Stage For Climate & Energy Bill Consideration

Oct 13: U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, held a press conference and issued a statement regarding further legislative actions on the Boxer-Kerry Clean Energy Jobs & American Power Act (S. 1733) [See WIMS 9/30/09]. Boxer said, "I am here today to bring you up to date on our effort to report a strong clean energy jobs bill to the full Senate as soon as possible." The Committee will hear testimony during the week of October 27, and a Committee markup could be held the week of November 2 or November 9.

Senator Boxer continued, "Members of the Committee and their staff, along with the EPW Committee staff, have been working day and night since the bill was introduced, and we have made great progress on the Chairman's Mark for the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act. Draft provisions of the Chairman's Mark have been sent to the Environmental Protection Agency for analysis. We expect the EPA's analysis to be completed in time for legislative hearings later this month.

"We will begin a week of intensive legislative hearings on S. 1733 and the Chairman's Mark on Tuesday, October 27. We will hold hearings on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday that week. At our first hearing, on Tuesday, October 27th at 9:30 AM, we will hear testimony from Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, and Jon Wellinghoff, Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, before our full Committee. The complete schedule for Wednesday's and Thursday's legislative hearings will be announced shortly.

"We will schedule a full Committee markup of the bill as soon as possible after our hearings. I am pleased to report we are continuing to expand support for our bill. Momentum for this effort is growing every day, and we are broadening and deepening our coalition with each step in the process. At the September 30 press conference where we introduced the bill, we were joined by a powerful and diverse coalition of organizations and constituencies united in their strong support for action to create clean energy jobs, increase our energy independence, strengthen our national and economic security, and protect our children and our planet from dangerous pollution.

"Standing with us on that stage were business leaders, national security experts and veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Governors, mayors and other state and local officials were represented, as well as energy companies, labor unions, environmental organizations, entrepreneurs, and more. Since then, I can report that Evangelical groups and other religious communities have expressed their commitment to help us move the bill quickly. All of this adds up to growing momentum toward a successful vote in the Environment and Public Works Committee."

Access a release and link to an audio of the press conference (
click here). Access legislative details for S. 1733 (click here).

Friday, October 09, 2009

Bangkok Climate Negotiations End In Tensions & Turmoil

Oct 9: The two-week climate negotiations in Bangkok concluded with the US climate negotiator saying it will be "extraordinarily difficult for the U.S. to commit to a specific number"; some developing countries walking out of the negotiations and accusing the EU of attempting to kill the Kyoto Protocol; and no clarity on finance and mid-term emission reduction targets. UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer attempted to put a positive spin on the meetings saying, “A will has emerged in Bangkok to build the architecture to rapidly implement climate action; but, significant differences remain. In December, citizens everywhere in the world will have a right to know exactly what their governments will do to prevent dangerous climate change. It is time now to step back from self interest and let the common interest prevail.”

Tensions were already running high at the end of week one of the meetings as 180 countries met in Bangkok, Thailand at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meetings of two working groups -- the first part of the ninth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP); and the first part of the seventh session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA) [See WIMS 10/5/09]. Now, it appears that with just 58 days to go until the major meeting in Copenhagen, frustration levels are rising.

Despite the frustrations, Secretary de Boer reported in a final press briefing that parties made progress on the issues of adaptation, technology transfer and capacity building. He said they also reached agreement on technical issues such as forests and land use, how to assess the global warming potentials of new greenhouse gases and the number of options for strengthening the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism.

However, he emphasized that little progress was made on the issue of mid-term emission reduction targets for industrialized countries [
See WIMS 10/07/09]. And clarity is lacking on the issue of finance that developing countries need to undertake additional actions to limit their emissions growth and adapt to the inevitable effects of climate change. De Boer said, “A good example with regard to what industrialized countries can do to increase the level of their ambition in the context of an international agreement at Copenhagen is the minus 40% emissions reduction target announced by Norway today.”

The negotiations in Thailand will be followed by five days of pre-Copenhagen negotiations in Barcelona, Spain (November 2-6) before the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (December 7-18). De Boer said, “Negotiators have three weeks back in their capitals to receive guidance from their political leaders to complete their work. Bold leadership must open the roadblocks around the essentials of targets and finance that the negotiators can complete their journey.

UNFCCC points out that one of the beacons to guide discussions identified by heads of state and government meeting in New York in September is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s finding that an aggregate emission reduction by industrialized countries of between minus 25% and 40% over 1990 levels would be required by 2020, and that global emissions would need to be reduced by at least 50% by 2050, in order to stave off the worst effects of climate change.

Access a release from UNFCCC (
click here). Access a video of the closing press briefing (click here). Access a report on the negotiations from BNA (click here). Access a report from Bloomberg (click here). Access complete details on the Bangkok meetings including on-demand webcasts and links to all documents for both meetings (click here). Access day-by-day reporting from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) (click here). Access additional links to various media reports on the meetings (click here).