Wednesday, June 26, 2013

President's Climate Speech Addresses Keystone XL & Fracking

Jun 25: In yesterday's speech announcing the Climate Action Plan [See WIMS 6/25/13], President Obama briefly addressed the Keystone XL pipeline, and indirectly fracking, even though neither was mentioned directly in the plan itself. Neither the actual Plan or the speech mentioned the controversial subject of natural gas exports.
    The President said, "I put forward in the past an all-of-the-above energy strategy, but our energy strategy must be about more than just producing more oil.  And, by the way, it's certainly got to be about more than just building one pipeline. 

    "Now, I know there's been, for example, a lot of controversy surrounding the proposal to build a pipeline, the Keystone pipeline, that would carry oil from Canadian tar sands down to refineries in the Gulf. And the State Department is going through the final stages of evaluating the proposal. That's how it's always been done. But I do want to be clear: Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation's interest. And our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. The net effects of the pipeline's impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward. It's relevant."

    The President also addressed the increasing production of natural gas much of which is possible through the highly controversial use of hydraulic fracturing or fracking. Although he did not mention fracking directly he said, "Now, even as we're producing more domestic oil, we're also producing more cleaner-burning natural gas than any other country on Earth. And, again, sometimes there are disputes about natural gas, but let me say this: We should strengthen our position as the top natural gas producer because, in the medium term at least, it not only can provide safe, cheap power, but it can also help reduce our carbon emissions. 

    "Federally supported technology has helped our businesses drill more effectively and extract more gas. And now, we'll keep working with the industry to make drilling safer and cleaner, to make sure that we're not seeing methane emissions, and to put people to work modernizing our natural gas infrastructure so that we can power more homes and businesses with cleaner energy. The bottom line is natural gas is creating jobs. It's lowering many families' heat and power bills. And it's the transition fuel that can power our economy with less carbon pollution even as our businesses work to develop and then deploy more of the technology required for the even cleaner energy economy of the future."

    The actual Climate Action Plan addressed the natural gas issue saying, "Burning natural gas is about one-half as carbon-intensive as coal, which can make it a critical "bridge fuel" for many countries as the world transitions to even cleaner sources of energy. Toward that end, the Obama Administration is partnering with states and private companies to exchange lessons learned with our international partners on responsible development of natural gas resources. We have launched the Unconventional Gas Technical Engagement Program to share best practices on issues such as water management, methane emissions, air quality, permitting, contracting, and pricing to help increase global gas supplies and facilitate development of the associated infrastructure that brings them to market. Going forward, we will promote fuel-switching from coal to gas for electricity production and encourage the development of a global market for gas. Since heavy-duty vehicles are expected to account for 40 percent of increased oil use through 2030, we will encourage the adoption of heavy duty natural gas vehicles as well." (page 19)

    Access the full text of President's climate speech  (click here). Access a video of the President's speech (click here). Access the complete 21-page Climate Action Plan (click here). Access the Presidential Memo on Power Sector Carbon Pollution Standards (click here). Access a fact sheet from the White House (click here). Access a visual presentation of the President's Plan (click here). Access the White House climate change website for additional information (click here). [#Climate]

More Comments On The President's Climate Action Plan - Jun 26: The following are some additional comments in reaction to President Obama's Climate Action Plan [See also WIMS 6/25/13]:
    The National Academy of Sciences (NAS), National Research Council (NRC) issued a release indicating that, "President Obama unveiled a plan today that aims to cut carbon pollution, prepare the U.S. for the impacts of climate change, and lead international efforts to combat climate change.  The National Research Council has produced a number of consensus reports on these and related issues that may be of use to policymakers, researchers, business owners, and the public as they consider ways to address climate change and develop innovative solutions." The release provides a listing and direct links to various NAS reports related to climate change.

UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueres said: "President Obama's climate action plan is a necessary next step to meet an immediate, worrying shortfall in action to deal with climate change and can be a critical move forward on the path towards a new, global climate agreement. It remains vital that the United States as the world's largest developed economy is seen to be leading serious action to deal with climate change, both at home and abroad. These new steps will help to meet those goals, if they are implemented to the fullest extent to which they are intended. It is significant that the new plan aims to start up rapidly and covers the full menu of solutions to climate change: clean energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency and the many actions that all countries need to take to adapt to accelerating climate change. This climate action plan should be positive for the US economy and the economies of other countries, as the US shifts faster towards a sustainable, low carbon model, including addressing directly the heaviest sources of emissions from unmodified coal and gas plants.

    "When the United States leads action, it also encourages more rapid international efforts to combat climate change by strengthening political trust, building business momentum and driving new technology solutions. . . I applaud the fact that the US intends to play a leading role by helping to forge a truly global solution to climate change that galvanizes international action to significantly reduce emissions, prepares for climate impacts, and drives progress through the international negotiations. This US climate action plan must also be leveraged into fresh, high-level political consensus among countries that will smooth the way for faster progress in the international climate change negotiations under the United Nations."

    Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen said: "President Obama's plan to address climate change is welcome news that deserves widespread support. Continuing to fill our atmosphere with carbon pollution is immoral. We have a responsibility to current and future generations to hand down a livable planet. We must begin now to fulfill our obligation. . . Two of the actions in the president's plan are likely to be particularly effective. The first is reducing carbon pollution from our dirtiest power plants, which is long overdue. These plants, some of which date all the way back to the 1940's, are responsible for the lion's share of the nation's carbon pollution and currently operate without any carbon pollution controls. Secondly, the president's plan to increase efficiency of the appliances we use every day will reduce our carbon pollution while saving consumers money by lowering operating costs. . ."
    U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue said: "The president's plan runs a serious risk of punishing Americans with higher energy bills, fewer jobs, and a weaker economy, while delivering negligible benefits to the environment. The administration must fully, transparently, and continually evaluate the impact of its proposed rules on jobs and the economy--just as the law requires. American consumers, workers, and businesses simply cannot afford another smothering layer of new regulations whose benefits are unproven and whose true costs are hidden. It is unfortunate that on a matter of such importance to all Americans that the administration has chosen to bypass our elected representatives in favor of unilateral actions and go-it-alone tactics. . ."
    House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) said: "Years after a Democrat-controlled Congress rejected the President's plan to impose a new national energy tax, President Obama is now trying to go at it alone and take unilateral action to push through job-destroying taxes and red tape. This is the latest example of President Obama's long-running war on coal, which a White House advisor now openly admits 'is exactly what's needed.' However, this is not only a war on coal. It's a war on jobs, our economy, affordable energy, American families and small businesses. While the President is calling for new energy taxes and regulations, which will cost jobs and increase energy prices, House Republicans this week will vote to expand American energy production in order to create jobs and lower energy prices. The difference couldn't be starker. The President's plan will cost tens of thousands of American jobs and impede economic growth. The Republican plan will create over a million jobs and generate $1.5 billion in new revenue."
    Charles Drevna, president of the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) said: "We welcome the fact that President Obama seems to be finally acknowledging the value of the Keystone XL pipeline. However, actions speak louder than words. We hope his statement means the State Department will immediately approve the pipeline, since several environmental reviews have concluded that building Keystone XL will lead to fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than if we did not build it. Moving ahead on this project is critical for creating thousands of jobs, as well as maintaining and strengthening America's national and economic security.

    "Unfortunately, the overall plan is poised to once again pick winners and losers among energy producers, but at the end of the day, the biggest loser will be the U.S. economy. If world action is dependent on the 'United States taking the lead,' as advocates of fossil fuel energy rationing have claimed, then why haven't nations with poor environmental standards followed our lead in reducing GHGs and other emissions over the last twelve years?. . . Ironically, the President's proposal ignores his own regulatory contradictions and also makes claims with little basis in fact. He claims to have a goal of reducing GHG emissions, but is moving forward with Tier 3 gasoline and other stationary source regulations that will increase such emissions. He also expresses support for the RFS, despite data from EPA and the National Academy of Sciences showing that the broken ethanol mandate will increase GHG and other criteria pollutant emissions. . ."

    Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee said: "Today the President has shown he is willing to use the powers granted under existing law to accelerate efforts to contain dangerous carbon pollution. By focusing on the remedies under the Clean Air Act, the potential of using government lands to develop clean energy, and continuing efforts on fuel economy and energy efficiency, the President is using all of the tools in his toolbox, and I applaud him for that. The President's commitment today to only approve the tar sands pipeline if there is no net increase in carbon pollution is promising, but tar sands are one of the dirtiest fuels on the planet and the devil is in the details. We also need a price on carbon pollution, and I intend to work with my colleagues on this issue as part of a comprehensive plan to address climate change."

    Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said: "Today, President Obama has shown he is keeping his word to future generations.  His inspiring call to action is a testament to the vibrancy of the grassroots climate movement and the work of millions of activists to make tackling climate disruption a key part of the President's legacy. The Sierra Club's 2.1 million members and supporters issued a collective cheer as they heard the President declare that the most effective defense against climate disruption will be by tackling the biggest single source of carbon pollution: coal plants. . . The President's strong commitment to using climate pollution as the standard by which Keystone XL will be decided means his decision to reject it should now be easy.  Any fair and unbiased analysis of the tar sands pipeline shows that the climate effects of this disastrous project would be significant. . . There is still more work to be done. The President's climate commitment and his speech today gives us great hope that he will finally address some of the remaining, worst abuses of the fossil fuel industry, including dirty and dangerous fracking, ending the devastating practice of mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia, halting destructive oil drilling in the Arctic, and overhauling the sweetheart deal on public lands that pads the bottom line of coal companies at public expense"
    Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ranking Member of the Energy & Natural Resources Committee said: "The central feature of the president's climate agenda is command-and-control regulations that will drive up energy costs for all Americans. This is exactly the opposite of what we should be seeking from our energy and environmental policies. In the past several years, we've already seen substantial decreases in greenhouse gas emissions thanks to low natural gas prices, improved vehicle efficiency and other trends. Unfortunately, economic stagnation contributed to those emission decreases as well, and that is an experience we should avoid repeating. Addressing climate change will require continued American innovation, but the president does not have the power to will technologies into existence through sheer force or scope of regulation. That will require a longer-term commitment to basic, scientific research that enables genuine breakthroughs. Instead, the president is again putting us on a path where government dictates circumvent elected representatives in Congress. . ."

    Access the NAS release (click here). Access the UNFCCC release (click here). Access the Earrthjustice release (click here). Access the U.S. Chamber release (click here). Access a release from Rep. Hastings (click here). Access a release from AFPM (click here). Access a release from Sen. Boxer (click here). Access a release from Sierra Club (click here). Access a release from Sen. Murkowski (click here). [#Climate}
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