In Upstate Ad, Pro-Fracking Clinton Promises To 'Stand Firm With New Yorkers Opposing Fracking'

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 19 Apr 2016 01:30:00 GMT

In an unannounced climate-change ad running in upstate New York, the Hillary Clinton campaign declares allegiance with the anti-fracking movement, despite the candidate’s support for fracking. With images of dirty rigs and anti-fracking protest signs, the narrator promises that a President Clinton will “stand firm with New Yorkers opposing fracking, giving communities the right to say no.”

Watch:

The ad’s characterization of Clinton’s stance on fracking is technically accurate, though misleading, as Clinton will cede localities control over fracking, while supporting natural gas as a ‘bridge fuel’. One could say that Clinton will “stand firm” with other states supporting fracking, such as Wyoming, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. Clinton has not taken a position on the Constitution Pipeline, a controversial fracked-gas pipeline being constructed through upstate New York from Pennsylvania. Clinton is on record supporting “new natural gas pipeline investment.”

Her opponent, Bernie Sanders, unequivocally opposes fracking nationally.

The television ad also credits Clinton’s work at the failed Copenhagen climate talks for “laying the groundwork” for the Paris climate agreement. The ad confusingly displays a photo of Clinton at Copenhagen under a Washington Post headline about the Paris talks six years later.

The ad began running in upstate New York communities on Wednesday, April 13, six days before the April 19th primary. It has aired over 200 times cumulatively on Albany, Rochester, Syracuse, Watertown, Elmira, Binghamton, and Utica stations.

The ad was not announced to the press by the campaign, allowing it to avoid scrutiny by fact-checkers or the public. Following New York, the election heads to Pennsylvania, where fracking is allowed.

Transcript:

NARRATOR: China. India. Some of the world’s worst polluters. As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton forced them to the table, making real change by laying the groundwork for the historic global agreement to combat climate change.

As president, she’ll invest in a clean energy future, and the jobs that go with it. And stand firm with New Yorkers opposing fracking, giving communities the right to say no. Because our future depends on getting this right.

CLINTON: I’m Hillary Clinton, and I approve this message.

Hillary Clinton: "We're going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business."

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 14 Mar 2016 16:06:00 GMT

Clinton at town hallAt last night’s Democratic town hall in Columbus, Ohio, Hillary Clinton bluntly declared her intention to shut down the American coal industry in order to fight global warming pollution. Clinton went on to say that “we’ve got to move away from coal, and all the other fossil fuels.” Her declaration of war on the fossil-fuel industry was in the context of her plan to support job transitions into renewable energy and other sectors for the coal miners:

“I’m the only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity — using clean, renewable energy as the key — into coal country. Because we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business. And we’re going to make it clear that we don’t want to forget those people. Those people labored in those mines for generations, losing their health, often losing their lives, to turn our lights and power our factories. Now we’ve got to move away from coal, and all the other fossil fuels. But I don’t want to move away from the people who did their best to produce the energy we rely on.”

By stating that “we’ve got to move away” from all fossil fuels, Clinton recognized the first law of climate policy: global warming won’t end until we stop burning fossil fuels.

However, in this campaign she is promoting a long glide path towards that goal, which involves increased domestic and international fracking as a “bridge” to a zero-carbon pollution future. She has not set a date for such a transition; like her Democratic opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, she has set a goal of an 80 percent reduction in domestic greenhouse pollution by 2050. Unlike Sanders she supports continued domestic production of fossil fuels for domestic use and for export, which threatens the climate goals set by President Barack Obama and her successor at the State Department, John Kerry.

Clinton misspoke when she claimed to be the “only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity — using clean, renewable energy as the key — into coal country.” In fact, in December Sanders introduced legislation with that specific aim, the Clean Energy Worker Just Transition Act (S. 2398). The 2007 climate legislation introduced by Sanders and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and 2013 Boxer-Sanders climate legislation had similar provisions.

In fact, in 2007 Clinton co-sponsored a Sanders amendment which successfully allocated $100 million for green-collar job training and resources, including for displaced energy-industry workers.

Fracking-Fund Billionaire Marc Lasry is a Top Clinton Advisor and Fundraiser

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 01 Mar 2016 16:39:00 GMT

Marc Lasry and Hillary Clinton
Marc Lasry and Hillary Clinton
Wall Street hedge-fund billionaire Marc Lasry is one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest financial supporters, and has built deep family and financial ties between himself, Obama, and Clinton. Now he is betting on a Hillary Clinton presidency, while betting the retirements of public-school teachers on a fracking renaissance.

In 2014, Lasry, founder and chair of Avenue Capital Group, raised $1.3 billion for a fund that bought loans of distressed energy companies, only to watch the debt become even more worthless. $200 million raised for the Avenue Energy Opportunities Fund came from the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System. Lasry has shrugged off the losses, confident the good times will come again for the frackers.

“There’s going to be a huge turnaround on energy,” Lasry told reporters this January. The oil and gas slump has hurt exploration and production companies, but prices “will always come back. The question is, does it take six months or does it take three years?”

Meanwhile, Marc Lasry—a co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks—has become a top contributor and bundler for the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign. When Clinton announced her campaign, Lasry emailed his friends looking to quickly raise $270,000 with ten maxed-out contributions of $2700 each.

“It’s been a long time coming, and now there’s a huge amount of excitement behind her,” Lasry told Bloomberg News. “You will start seeing it in the numbers as people start donating.”

The exact amount of money bundled by Lasry has not been publicly disclosed; the Clinton campaign only discloses which bundlers have raised over $100,000.

She’s moving a little bit to the left, and I think that’s fine,” Lasry told Bloomberg in May 2015, after hosting one her first campaign fundraisers at his townhouse. “People who are giving money to her understand that. Obviously, some people have some issues. I think the vast majority won’t have issues.”

On February 12 of this year, Clinton came out in favor of new domestic natural-gas fracking and pipeline infrastructure.

Marc Lasry has deep financial and familial ties to the Clintons and Obamas.

Lasry’s daughter Samantha was a Congressional intern for Rahm Emanuel in 2005, the future chief of staff for Barack Obama. Meanwhile, Lasry donated to Rahm’s campaign.

In 2006, Marc Lasry hired Chelsea Clinton to work at his hedge fund, Avenue Capital Group, while Hillary Clinton was Senator of New York. Meanwhile, Lasry contributed to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Marc Lasry was a top contributor and bundler for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Meanwhile, Alexander Lasry, his son, was a special assistant to Valerie Jarrett in the Obama White House from 2010 to 2012.

In 2011, Marc Lasry and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein invested in Eaglevale Partners, the hedge fund set up by Marc Mezvinsky, Chelsea Clinton’s husband. Lasry invested $1 million. The fund “underperformed.”

Oddly enough, Lasry was also one of Donald Trump’s top investors: he managed the bankruptcy buyout of Trump’s casinos in 2010. He then served as the chairman of Trump Entertainment Resorts, Inc. from 2011 to 2013, with a 22 percent stake and managerial control of the Trump Plaza, Trump Marina and Trump Taj Mahal casinos.

In the same interview this January where Lasry bet that the oil and gas industry would rise again, he expressed similar confidence about his chosen candidate.

“Hillary is going to be the next president of the United States.”

Bernie Sanders: 'Hillary Clinton Supports Fracking. I Do Not.'

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 26 Feb 2016 15:27:00 GMT

“Hillary Clinton supports fracking. I do not.”

These words appeared in a recent fundraising email from Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, which fiercely attacked fracking and Hillary Clinton’s support from and for the natural gas industry.

In blunt language, Sanders contrasted his call for a national moratorium on fracking against Clinton’s fundraising from natural gas investors:
Just days before the Iowa caucus, Hillary Clinton left the campaign trail for a high-dollar fundraiser at a hedge fund. That same hedge fund is a major investor in fracking, an incredibly destructive practice of extracting natural gas by pumping hundreds of secret chemicals into the ground.

Hillary Clinton supports fracking. I do not.

And just as I believe you can’t take on Wall Street while taking their money, I don’t believe you can take on climate change effectively while taking money from those who would profit off the destruction of the planet.

Sanders’ email comes on the heels of the Clinton campaign’s February 12th release of a policy promoting new natural-gas extraction and infrastructure. Clinton’s promotion of “safe and responsible natural gas production” (the phrase “safe and responsible” was used five times) was praised by LiUNA, a trade union that had vigorously supported the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

“Domestically produced natural gas can play an important role in the transition to a clean energy economy,” Clinton’s policy position states, making no mention of the candidate’s February 4th pledge, caught on camera, to ban the extraction of fossil fuels, including natural gas, from public lands.

The conflict between Sanders and Clinton on natural gas is set to become a point of major political contention, as voters go to the polls next month in states overrun by fracking, including Oklahoma and Texas on March 1, Kansas and Nebraska on March 6, and Ohio on March 15. These states are reeling from the boom and bust of the fracking industry, left with earthquakes, degraded water supplies, and thousands of non-union workers exploited and poisoned by the private fracking companies Clinton’s donors have financed. Fights over natural-gas pipelines and facilities have mobilized activists in dozens of other states.

On a national scale, a growing body of scientific evidence is building that the climate benefits of switching from coal to natural gas were a total mirage, with the catastrophic Porter Ranch methane blowout the most visible and extreme example of a nationwide surge in methane leakage as a result of the domestic fracking boom promoted by the Bush and Obama administrations. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide on a twenty-year timespan.

Read Sanders’ full email:

Sisters and Brothers -

Just days before the Iowa caucus, Hillary Clinton left the campaign trail for a high-dollar fundraiser at a hedge fund. That same hedge fund is a major investor in fracking, an incredibly destructive practice of extracting natural gas by pumping hundreds of secret chemicals into the ground.

Hillary Clinton supports fracking. I do not.

And just as I believe you can’t take on Wall Street while taking their money, I don’t believe you can take on climate change effectively while taking money from those who would profit off the destruction of the planet.

Please contribute to our campaign right now to help elect a president who isn’t beholden to special interests that profit off of pollution.

Dick Cheney pushed through changes to the Safe Drinking Water Act that legalized fracking, despite the fact that fracking companies keep the chemicals they pump into the ground a secret.

People who live near fracking locations no longer have drinkable water, and in some cases their tap water is actually flammable. Oklahoma has even seen a rash of earthquakes that many believe are a result of fracking.

In short, fracking is a disaster for the planet.

We need a president who is not beholden to special interests and who will do everything in his or her power to fight the effects of climate change. It’s clear that to elect that kind of president, millions of people need to come together and chip in whatever they can.

Make a contribution to our campaign now to send a message that you want to elect a president who will do everything possible to fight climate change.

We can’t afford to let people who would destroy our planet elect our next president.

Thank you for your support.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders

In Letter to Shareholders, Warren Buffett Mockingly Compares Global Warming to Y2K

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 22 Feb 2016 22:13:00 GMT

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has dismissed the threat of global warming to Berkshire Hathaway, comparing it to the "dire" Y2K bug fear which caused only minor problems in a letter to investors opposing a shareholder resolution on climate. Athough Buffett admitted it is "highly likely" that climate change "poses a major problem for the planet," he concluded that "when you are thinking only as a shareholder of a major insurer, climate change should not be on your list of worries."

At the upcoming Berkshire Hathaway shareholders' meeting, the Nebraska Peace Foundation and Bold Nebraska are presenting a proposal calling for a report from Berkshire Hathaway's insurance division (which includes Geico) on the risks posed by climate change. The board, following Buffett's wishes, is opposing the proposed report.

Buffett's conglomerate is increasingly invested in the fossil-fuel industry, from his anti-community-solar NV Energy utility in Nevada to his railroad company BNSF, which profits heavily from oil-train and coal-train traffic.

Download the shareholder resolution and Buffett's opposition here.

The text of Buffett's letter is below:

It seems highly likely to me that climate change poses a major problem for the planet. I say "highly likely" rather than "certain" because I have no scientific aptitude and remember well the dire predictions of most "experts" about Y2K. It would be foolish, however, for me or anyone to demand 100% proof of huge forthcoming damage to the world, if that outcome seemed at all possible and if prompt action had even a small chance of thwarting the threat. If there is only a 1% chance the planet is heading toward a truly major disaster and delay means passing a point of no return, inaction now is foolhardy. Call this Noah's Law: If an ark may be essential for survival, begin building it today, no matter how cloudless the skies appear.

It's understandable that the sponsor of the proposal believes Berkshire is especially threatened by climate change because we are a huge insurer, covering all sorts of risks. The sponsor may worry that property losses will skyrocket because of weather changes. And such worries might, in fact, be warranted if we wrote ten- or twenty-year policies at fixed prices. But insurance policies are customarily written for one year and repriced annually to reflect changing exposures. Increase possibilities of loss translate promptly into increased premiums.

So far, climate change has not produced more frequent or more costly hurricanes or other weather-related events covered by insurance. As a consequence, U.S. super-cat rates have fallen steadily in recent years which is why we have backed away from that business. If super-cats become costlier and more frequent, the likely - though far from certain - effect on Bershire's insurance business would be to make it larger and more profitable.

As a citizen, you may understandably find climate change keeping you up at nights. As a homeowner in a low-lying area, you may wish to consider moving. But when you are thinking only as a shareholder of a major insurer, climate change should not be on your list of worries.

Clinton Goes to Pennsylvania to Reap Windfall from Pennsylvania Frackers

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 28 Jan 2016 16:34:00 GMT

Clinton enters the Franklin Square Capital Partners headquarters through a back entrance. Credit: Yong Kim
Last night, Hillary Clinton attended a gala fundraiser in Philadelphia at the headquarters of Franklin Square Capital Partners, a major investor in the fossil-fuel industry, particularly domestic fracking. The controversial fracking industry is particularly powerful in Pennsylvania, which will host the Democratic National Convention this July.

Clinton has avoided taking any clear stand on fracking. While she has embraced the Clean Power Plan, which assumes a strong increase in natural-gas power plants, she also supports a much deeper investment in solar electricity than the baseline plan. The pro-Clinton Super PAC Correct the Record, run by David Brock, touts Clinton’s aggressive pro-fracking record.

Numerous grassroots groups have risen to oppose the toxic fracking of Pennsylvania and its labor abuses, including Marcellus Protest, No Fracking Way, Pennsylvanians Against Fracking, Keep Tap Water Safe, Stop Fracking Now, and Stop the Frack Attack.

As reported by the Intercept’s Lee Fang, “One of Franklin Square Capital’s investment funds, the FS Energy & Power Fund” the Intercept’s Lee Fang reports, “is heavily invested in fossil fuel companies, including offshore oil drilling and fracking.” The company cautions that “changes to laws and increased regulation or restrictions on the use of hydraulic fracturing may adversely impact” the fund’s performance.

Through its fund, Franklin Square invests in private fracking and oil drilling companies across the nation, as well as Canada and the Gulf of Mexico. This includes heavy investment in Pennsylvania frackers.

Franklin Square companies in the Pennsylvania fracking industry

Bold indicates a company that runs fracking wells in Pennsylvania (Eclipse Resources is a Pennsylvania-based company with fracking operations in Ohio). The other companies listed are industry service companies with business in Pennsylvania, including pipelines, trucking, chemicals, and power plants. Murray Energy runs coal mining operations in Pennsylvania.

Tickets to the event ranged from $1,000 to $27,000. Contributors at the $2,700 level got a photo taken with Clinton, and the $27,000 contributors were afforded the opportunity to meet and hear Jon Bon Jovi perform an acoustic set.

Timeline: During Paris Talks, D.C. Breathed Life Into U.S. Oil Industry

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 15 Dec 2015 15:37:00 GMT

Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), December 3:

Hein­rich pre­vi­ously voted against a pro-ex­ports bill that cleared the En­ergy and Nat­ur­al Re­sources Com­mit­tee on a party-line vote, but signaled that he could sup­port ex­ports if they’re coupled with strong re­new­able-en­ergy in­cent­ives. “We are look­ing for things that bring people to the table from both sides,” he said. “I think there is a real op­por­tun­ity here. I hope we real­ize it.”

“It’s effectively carbon-neutral” to allow crude exports, Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) told reporters last week, “because you’re going to burn the oil someplace under the current regime.”

Tim Kaine (D-Va.), December 3:

“There is a wide range of opin­ion [in the Demo­crat­ic caucus], some pro, some con,” Sen. Tim Kaine, a Vir­gin­ia Demo­crat, told Na­tion­al Journ­al. “The ma­jor­ity opin­ion is prob­ably [that] we’d be will­ing to con­sider it if we got some very strong en­ergy-ef­fi­ciency and green­house-gas-re­du­cing pro­vi­sions along with it.”

Heidi Heitkamp, December 9:

“The good news is there is no one saying ‘absolutely no,’ and there is a range of belief systems in terms of what you would need in order to accomplish the lifting of the ban,” Heitkamp said Tuesday. “We believe we’re at a spot where we could actually get a deal.”’

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, December 9:
In a press conference on Tuesday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest reiterated the administration’s position, but wouldn’t threaten a veto of the omnibus or tax extenders package if a provision lifting the decades-old ban on crude oil was tucked inside.

Democratic Senator Wants to Add Oil-Refiner Subsidy to Crude Export Deal

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 10 Dec 2015 17:25:00 GMT

Tom CarperSenator Tom Carper (D-Del.) has proposed a tax credit for oil refiners to be added to legislation that would lift the decades-long ban on crude oil exports. This double-subsidy deal for the oil industry during international climate negotiations belies Carper’s claimed concerns about climate change but would benefit Delaware refineries.

Politico’s Elana Schor reports that Carper wants “a narrowly crafted tax credit that would particularly help the East Coast refiners with the most to lose if producers can sell their product overseas. The credit, which large, integrated oil companies could not collect, would also spread some love among refiners in California and the Gulf Coast, creating a large band of members of Congress who might be willing to back it. Sources tells Elana that oil patch Senators are likely to push back hard on Carper’s proposal.”

Download the draft Carper oil-refiner tax-credit language, or see below.

SEC. lll. CREDIT FOR FUEL REFINED AT CERTAIN REFINERIES.
(a) CREDIT AGAINST EXCISE TAXES.—
(1) IN GENERAL.—Subchapter B of chapter 65 of subtitle F of the Internal Revenue Code is amended by adding at the end the following new section:
‘‘SEC. 6433. CREDIT FOR FUEL REFINED AT CERTAIN INDEPENDENT REFINERIES.
‘‘(a) ALLOWANCE OF CREDIT.—In the case of an eligible taxpayer, there shall be allowed as a credit against the tax imposed by section 4081 an amount equal to the product of—
‘‘(1) the number of barrels of crude oil which—
‘‘(A) are received after December 31, 2015, at a refinery owned by the eligible taxpayer, and
‘‘(B) not taken into account under this section for any preceding period, and
‘‘(2) $3.
‘‘(b) LIMITATION.—The amount of crude oil taken into account under subsection (a) for any day shall not exceed 155,000 barrels.
‘‘© SPECIAL RULE FOR CERTAIN REFINERIES RECEIVING CRUDE OIL BY LONG-DISTANCE PIPELINE.—
‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—In the case of crude oil received at a refinery which is capable of receiving crude oil from a pipeline which is in excess of 35 miles long as of January 1, 2015, subsection (a) shall be applied by substituting ‘$0.30’ for ‘$3’ in paragraph (2) thereof.
‘‘(2) ORDERING RULE.—For purposes of applying the limitation under subsection (b), crude oil shall be treated as being received first at refineries to which paragraph (1) does not apply.
‘‘(d) DEFINITIONS AND SPECIAL RULES.—In this section—
‘‘(1) ELIGIBLE TAXPAYER.—
‘‘(A) IN GENERAL.—The term ‘eligible taxpayer’ means any taxpayer who owns a refinery other than a major integrated oil company (as defined in section 167(h)(5)(B)).
‘‘(B) AGGREGATION RULES.—For purposes of determining gross receipts under subparagraph (B), all persons treated as a single employer under subsection (a) or (b) of section 52 shall be treated as one person.
‘‘(2) BARREL.—The term ‘barrel’ means 42 United States gallons.
‘‘(3) FRACTIONAL RATE OF BARREL.—In the case of a fraction of a barrel, the credit allowed under subsection (a) shall be the same fraction of the amount of such credit with respect to a whole barrel.
‘‘(e) TERMINATION.—This section shall not apply to crude oil received after December 31, 2022.’’.
(2) PROTECTION OF HIGHWAY TRUST FUND.— The last sentence of section 9503(b)(1) of such Code is amended by inserting ‘‘or 6433’’ after ‘‘6426’’.
(3) CLERICAL AMENDMENT.—The table of sections for subchapter B of chapter 65 of subtitle F of such Code is amended by adding at the end the following new item:
‘‘Sec. 6433. Credit for fuel refined at certain independent refineries.’’.
(b) CREDIT AGAINST INCOME TAXES.—
(1) IN GENERAL.—Subpart D of part IV of subchapter A of chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by adding at the end the following new section:
‘‘SEC. 45S. INDEPENDENT REFINERY CREDIT.
‘‘(a) ALLOWANCE OF CREDITS.—For purposes of section 38, in the case of an eligible taxpayer, the independent refinery credit determined under this section for the taxable year is an amount equal to the product of—
‘‘(1) the number of barrels of crude oil which—
‘‘(A) are received after December 31, 2015, at a refinery owned by the eligible taxpayer, and
‘‘(B) not taken into account under this section for any preceding taxable year, and
‘‘(2) $3.
‘‘(b) LIMITATION.—The amount of crude oil taken into account under subsection (a) for any day shall not exceed 155,000 barrels.
‘‘© SPECIAL RULE FOR CERTAIN REFINERIES RECEIVING CRUDE OIL BY LONG-DISTANCE PIPELINE.—
‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—In the case of crude oil received at a refinery which is capable of receiving crude oil from a pipeline which is in excess of 35 miles long as of January 1, 2015, subsection (a) shall be applied by substituting ‘$0.30’ for ‘$3’ in paragraph (2) thereof.
‘‘(2) ORDERING RULE.—For purposes of applying the limitation under subsection (b), crude oil shall be treated as being received first at refineries to which paragraph (1) does not apply.
‘‘(d) DEFINITIONS AND SPECIAL RULES.—For purposes of this section—
‘‘(1) any term used in this section which is used in section 6433 shall have the meaning given such term under section 6433, and
‘‘(2) rules similar to the rules of section 6433(d)(3) shall apply.
‘‘(e) COORDINATION WITH CREDIT AGAINST EXCISE TAX.—The amount of the credit determined under this section with respect to any crude oil shall be reduced to take into account any benefit provided with respect to such crude oil under section 6433.
‘‘(f) TERMINATION.—This section shall not apply to crude oil received after December 31, 2022.’’.
(2) TREATMENT AS PART OF GENERAL BUSINESS CREDIT.—Section 38(b) of such Code is amended by striking ‘‘plus’’ at the end of paragraph
(35), by striking the period at the end of paragraph
(36) and inserting ‘‘, plus’’, and by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
‘‘(37) the independent refinery credit determined under section 45S(a).’’.
(3) DENIAL OF DOUBLE BENEFIT.—Section 280C of such Code is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:
‘‘(j) CREDIT FOR INDEPENDENT REFINERIES.—No deduction shall be allowed for that portion of the expenses otherwise allowable as a deduction taken into account in determining the credit under section 45S for the taxable year which is equal to the amount of the credit determined for such taxable year under section 45S(a).’’.
(4) CLERICAL AMENDMENT.—The table of sections for subpart D of part IV of subchapter A of chapter 1 of such Code is amended by adding at the end the following new item:
‘‘45S. Independent refinery credit.’’.
(c) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendments made by this section shall apply to crude oil received after December 31, 2015.

Led By White House, Democrats Are Looking to Give Big Oil A Major Win During Climate Talks

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 09 Dec 2015 01:02:00 GMT

In a paywalled article at Politico Pro, reporter Elana Schor describes how the Democratic effort to cut a deal to lift the decades-long crude oil export ban is being quietly directed by the White House. The administration has quietly walked back its October veto threat against this top oil-industry priority, despite the global attention on climate change during the Paris climate talks. Remarkably, even climate champion Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) indicated her willingness to cut a deal that would rejuvenate the tar-sands and Bakken-shale industry, telling Schor, “I’ve heard environmentalists say this is a great opportunity; others say it’s not.”

Schor’s story did not make mention of which environmental groups are on which side. The Sierra Club has been leading the fight to ensure the ban stands, whereas the National Wildlife Federation has been pushing for a deal in order to achieve some of its land-conservation goals.

The carbon pollution caused by lifting the ban on crude oil exports, depending on future oil prices, could be equivalent to the pollution from 42 new coal plants.

Lifting the crude oil export ban would be a dramatic blow to American prestige within the international climate negotiations, where the United States, led by President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, have been claiming the moral high ground. Youth activists from historically black universities who are monitoring the talks recently sent a video plea to President Obama and the U.S. Senate, saying “the ban must stand.”

White House keeps GOP hopes for oil exports alive

The White House on Tuesday declined to rule out accepting a Congressional measure to allow U.S. oil exports for the first time in four decades, a potential signal to senior Democrats who are considering striking a deal with the GOP to overturn the ban in exchange for other party priorities.

The White House “continues to oppose” a legislative provision rolling back the decades-old ban on exporting U.S. crude, spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters, “but I’m just not going to get into a detailed list of things we are going to veto or not veto.”

Asked about ending the ban as part of a potential budget package that would otherwise be favorable to the White House, a senior Obama administration official said only that legislation on the issue is “not needed at this time”- repeating the language and tone used previously that’s raised alarms among some green groups.

Climate Hawks Vote political director Brad Johnson urged President Barack Obama to close the door to oil exports to reinforce the administration’s goal of reaching a strong global emissions pact at the climate change conference in Paris this week.

“All the efforts of his climate negotiators in Paris could be blown away by this one boneheaded appeasement of Big Oil,” Johnson said.

One official at a group fighting to preserve the export ban said environmentalists are concerned that the White House’s “door [is] wide open for wheeling and dealing and trading.”

Some in the White House “think there’s a way to get a good conservation package” in exchange for allowing oil exports, said a source off the Hill who is closely tracking the talks who requested anonymity.

In addition to other controversies that are threatening to swamp a government funding deal outright, the source said, Obama’s aides are aware that handing Republicans a win on oil exports without significant wins for Democrats on other issues could look like “walking back the commitments the president made in Paris” to rein in U.S. emissions by nearly one-third over the next decade.

Though Johnson slammed as “unconscionable” the growing openness among some Democrats and green groups to a trade-off that would roll back the export ban in exchange for renewable energy and conservation benefits, that willingness to compromise showed no signs of abating on Tuesday.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (Calif.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, shrugged off environmentalist fears about trading conservation and renewables’ benefits for oil exports. There is “division” among green groups over whether to cut a deal, she said in a brief interview. “I’ve heard environmentalists say this is a great opportunity; others say it’s not,” she said.

Any deal would also likely include some type of aid for refineries in the Northeast that have benefited from cheap domestic crude that cannot be exported currently. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said he said he is in discussions for an approach “to make whole American refineries that in many cases would simply go out of business” should exports be permitted.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters that oil exports were not objectionable enough to sink a possible deal on their own.

Ending the 1970s-era ban on exports, the year’s top priority for the American Petroleum Institute, is “not where we want to go,” Hoyer said. “But on the other hand, if there were substantial agreements by the Republicans on some things that we thought were very important, that might be something” to consider during the budget talks.

The Sierra Club’s New Jersey chapter called out its junior Democratic senator directly on Tuesday, pleading for Cory Booker to “stand up to Big Oil” by ruling out any change to the export ban.

“We already have 15 pipelines proposed throughout our state and this plan will bring more dirty fossil fuel infrastructure through our communities,” Sierra’s New Jersey director, Jeff Tittel, said in a statement.

SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive, head of the nation’s biggest rooftop solar power company, fueled talk of a deal that would marry clean-energy tax benefits with conservation funding – as well as other Democratic priorities – during an interview in Paris yesterday. If allowing exports “in return, enabled us to have long-term visibility into continuing to incentivize and promote solar, then I think that’s a fair trade,” Rive said.

Even as lawmakers openly mull a deal, few in the Senate have reckoned with how the Democratic demands under a deal that allows exports would fare among senior House Republicans. Not only does House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop want broader reforms in exchange for any extension for federal conservation spending, but many House conservatives are ideologically set against boosting breaks for renewable energy.

And unrelated disagreements over tax policies this week, such as the earned income credit, may yet force the GOP to punt on a broad package of tax-break extensions that would leave the Democrats without a vehicle for their must-have incentives for wind and solar. Should the tax package evaporate, prospects would dim for an oil exports deal despite the apparent White House openness.

“I think it would be really hard to support it without the tax provisions as part of a broader, pro-environmental package to accompany the lifting of the ban,” one Democratic aide said.

Business Coalition Suggests Detailed Language for Paris Talks to Achieve Rapid Decarbonization

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 24 Nov 2015 13:35:00 GMT

The We Mean Business coalition of private-sector climate activists has released detailed recommended language for the upcoming climate negotiations in Paris. The report was prepared by BSR and DLA Piper for the coalition, which includes B-Team, Ceres, Carbon Disclosure Project, the Climate Group, the Prince of Wales Corporate Leader Group, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Funding was provided by the ClimateWorks, IKEA, and Thomson Reuters Foundations.

Corporate members on the board of We Mean Business include Starbucks, Nike, IKEA, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Kingfisher, Unilever, HP, Tata, CLP Power, and NEUW Ventures.

1. WMB Ask #1: Net zero greenhouse gas emissions well before the end of the century

Businesses and investors need a strong long-term goal in the Paris Agreement that sets a clear destination and time frame, and that operationalizes a global emissions pathway which holds warming below 2°C. This would provide the policy certainty and clarity needed to drive low carbon and climate resilient investment in the real economy. By providing long-term details in national decarbonization strategies to 2050, governments will increase business confidence in making multi-decadal low carbon capital investments.

Preferred Text

  • Article 2 (Purpose)
    “The purpose of this Agreement is to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2°C and preferably below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by ensuring deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions, and to achieve the global transformation to low carbon and climate resilient economies and societies.”
  • Article 3 (Mitigation)
    “To achieve the long-term temperature goal set out in Article 2 of this Agreement, Parties collectively aim to reach net zero global greenhouse gas emissions well before the end of this century.”
  • COP Decision
    “Strongly encourages Parties to formulate and communicate, by 2018, national decarbonization strategies to 2050, to facilitate the mobilization of climate finance and investment.”

2. WMB Ask #2: Strengthen commitments every 5 years

After COP21, from 2016 to 2020, businesses will unleash additional low carbon innovation and investment. Continuous improvement should apply not only to businesses but to governments as well. By strengthening their commitments every 5 years, starting in 2020, governments will keep pace with private sector innovation, stimulate increased private sector ambition, and progressively realize the transformation of the global economy.

Preferred Text

  • Article 3 (Mitigation)
    “Successive nationally determined commitments shall be communicated every 5 years.”

    “Each Party shall progressively strengthen the ambition of their successive nationally determined commitment every 5 years from 2020 onwards, informed by the global stocktake set out in Article 10 and by the best available science, until the ultimate objective of the UNFCCC and the objective of this Agreement are achieved.”

  • Article 10 (Global Stocktake)
    “The CMA shall, in 2024 and every 5 years thereafter, take stock of the implementation of this Agreement, to assess collective progress towards achieving the ultimate objective of the UNFCCC and the objective of this Agreement, in order to inform the formulation and communication of successive nationally determined commitments.”
  • COP Decision
    Requests all Parties to communicate an updated nationally determined commitment well in advance of the twenty-sixth session of the COP (by the first quarter of 2020 for those Parties ready to do so), with a view to enhancing the ambition of their nationally determined commitment.”

    Decides to convene a dialogue among Parties in 2019 to take stock of the collective efforts of all Parties, to inform the communication of their updated nationally determined commitments.”

3. WMB Ask #3: Enact meaningful carbon pricing

Carbon pricing is one of the key policy instruments needed to harness the power of business to tackle climate change. With the majority of INDCs either putting or considering a price on carbon, whether through carbon taxes or markets, the Paris Agreement should recognize their efforts and the merits of these approaches to driving emissions reductions. Over a thousand companies have reported using an internal carbon price or plan to do so, in anticipation of future regulation. A price on carbon incentivizes low carbon innovation, shifts investment towards low carbon technologies, and helps ensure sustained economic competitiveness. To be effective, carbon pricing needs to be adopted globally, to reach high enough levels to change investment decisions and behaviour towards lower carbon ones and to converge to avoid trade friction.

Preferred Text

  • Preamble
    Emphasizing that many Parties have already put a price on carbon, and that where the price is sufficient to drive lower carbon investment and behavior, this is an important, efficient, and cost-effective approach to achieving deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions.”
  • Article 3 (Mitigation)
    “The CMA shall further facilitate international cooperation between Parties in the implementation of mitigation activities.”

    “Parties shall ensure the environmental integrity of internationally transferred mitigation outcomes used towards the fulfillment of its nationally determined mitigation commitments. Internationally transferred mitigation outcomes must avoid double-counting and be real, permanent, additional and verified.”

  • COP decision
    Invites all Parties to consider further international cooperation in the implementation of nationally determined mitigation commitments.”

    Requests that the IPC commence a work programme to develop standardized accounting rules which ensure the environmental integrity of internationally transferred mitigation outcomes, with a view to the IPC making recommendations to the CMA at its first session.”

    Decides that the CMA shall, at its first session, adopt standardized accounting rules which ensure the environmental integrity of internationally transferred mitigation outcomes.”

  • NDCs
    Many submitted NDCs put a price on carbon, whether through carbon taxes or markets, and if through markets, anticipate potential links to other markets.

4. WMB Ask #4: New and additional climate finance at scale

The satisfaction of the Copenhagen pledge to mobilize $100 billion per year of climate finance in 2020 is key to an ambitious deal in Paris. But building the low carbon economy will take trillions – not billions – of dollars in climate finance. To shift these trillions, the Paris Agreement will need to improve the predictability of financial flows, improve domestic enabling environments to facilitate climate investment, and direct international support towards low emission and climate resilient investment.

Preferred Text

  • Article 6 (Finance)
    “Developed country Parties, and other Parties willing to do so, shall scale up the mobilization of climate finance from USD 100 billion per year from 2020.”

    “Parties shall improve the predictability of finance flows, including through the transparency system set out under Article 9.”

    “All Parties shall strive to improve domestic enabling environments, to encourage the mobilization of climate finance from a wide variety of sources, including public and private, bilateral and multilateral and alternative sources.”

    “Parties shall enhance international support for low emission and climate resilient investments, and reduce international support for high emission and maladaptive investments.”

  • COP Decision
    Decides that Parties shall, in accordance with their national circumstances, consult and cooperate to mobilize climate finance and investment, including partnering with other Parties and with the private sector.”

5. WMB Ask #5: Transparency and accountability to promote a race to the top

A strong transparency system under the Paris Agreement will reassure businesses and investors that all governments will be accountable for their commitments. By making collective progress towards a global 2°C trajectory clear, transparency will allow businesses to prepare for the climate impacts of projected warming. Shared accounting and reporting rules will prevent governments from gaming their commitments, which would distort the perceived risks of climate impacts.

Preferred Text

  • Article 9 (Transparency)
    “The purpose of the system for transparency of action is to:
    (a) provide the clearest possible understanding of the emissions and removals of individual Parties, and of global aggregate net emissions relative to the objective of this Agreement in Article 2, and the long-term mitigation goal in Article 3;
    (b) ensure clarity and tracking of progress made in implementing and achieving individual Parties’ nationally determined mitigation commitments;
    (c) provide a clear understanding of Parties’ progress in implementing adaptation actions…”

    “The purpose of the system for transparency of support is to:
    (a) ensure clarity on support provided and received by individual Parties;
    (b) provide a full overview of aggregate support provided, mobilized and received…”

    “In tracking progress towards achieving their nationally determined commitments, Parties shall apply the principles of transparency, accuracy, completeness, comparability and consistency according to rules adopted by the CMA at its first session.”
    “Each Party shall, subject to its respective capabilities, provide information at least biennially. This information shall be reviewed, subject to the Party’s respective capabilities, by an expert review team, which shall identify any issues related to facilitating implementation and compliance under Article 11.”

6. WMB Ask #6: National commitments at the highest end of ambition

An agreement with the broadest possible participation will address business concerns around maintaining competitiveness on a fair playing field. Broad and ambitious participation is also crucial to addressing climate change. Businesses will need to be confident that national commitments made by governments are more than words, and will be implemented. Countries joining the Paris Agreement should therefore commit to implementation and not merely communication of their national climate action plans.

Preferred Text

  • Article 3 (Mitigation)
    “Each Party shall regularly formulate and communicate a nationally determined mitigation commitment that it shall implement.”

    “Each Party’s successive nationally determined mitigation commitment shall be at that Party’s highest possible level of ambition as of the time of its formulation.”

  • NDCs
    The Paris Agreement is universal. Nearly all countries covering nearly all global greenhouse gas emissions submit nationally determined commitments for the Paris Agreement and becomes Parties to the Paris Agreement.

7. WMB Ask #7: Adaptation to build climate resilient economies and communities

Even if warming is held below 2°C, businesses will need to adapt to substantial climate impacts. By treating adaptation with the same political parity as mitigation, including with a long-term global vision on adaptation, the Paris Agreement will signal that all actors must build climate resilience while they reduce emissions. Business can play a constructive role in building this resilience not only within their own economic infrastructure, but also within the workforce, communities, and ecosystems on which they depend. Private sector consultation in national adaptation planning will help to facilitate this.

Preferred Text

  • Preamble
    Emphasizing that adaptation is a global challenge which must be addressed with the same urgency as mitigation.”
  • Article 4 (Adaptation)
    “Parties establish the long-term vision of increasing resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change, recognizing that adaptation is a challenge faced by all, with local, national, regional and international dimensions, and impacts on all sectors, and that it is a key component of a contribution to the longer-term global response to climate change to protect people, livelihoods, ecosystems, and economies.”

    “Parties recognize that adaptation will be needed regardless of the level of mitigation reached and that the greater their mitigation efforts, the less adaptation will be needed.”

    “Each Party shall engage in a national adaptation planning process and enhance its adaptation plans, policies and actions…”

  • COP Decision
    Decides that the national adaptation plans, policies and actions referred to in Article 4 should be developed in consultation with relevant stakeholders including…the private sector/b>.”

8. WMB Ask #8 Pre-2020 ambition through Workstream 2

In the years 2016 to 2020, Workstream 2 under the Durban Platform can raise pre-2020 ambition by exploring and scaling up technical solutions to reduce emissions and build climate resilience. Two high-level champions will give this effort the political profile needed for success. An annual high-level event can build upon the many initiatives that have been launched under the Lima-Paris Action Agenda at COP21, and promote new efforts.

Preferred Text

  • COP Decision on Workstream 2, High-level Dialogue/Events
    Decides that two high-level champions, with relevant experience in leadership positions in government and the private sector, shall be appointed to facilitate the scale up and launch of new or strengthened efforts, voluntary initiatives and coalitions, through strengthened high-level engagement in the period 2016-2020, including by:
    (a) Working with the UNFCCC Executive Secretary and the current and incoming presidencies of the COP to coordinate an annual high-level event that provides an opportunity to announce new or strengthened efforts;
    (b) Engaging intensively with interested Parties and non-Party stakeholders, including the private sector; and
    (c) Providing guidance on the organization of the Technical Examination Processes.
  • COP Decision on Workstream 2, Mitigation
    Requests the appointment of co-facilitators to guide the Technical Examination Process on mitigation and, in consultation with Parties and high-level champions referred to below, to create a detailed work programme for 2016 and 2017 focused on scaling up implementation.”

    Encourages Parties, Convention bodies, international organizations and non-Party stakeholders, including the private sector, to engage actively and effectively in this process, to submit their experience and suggestions…to this process, and to cooperate in implementing the policies, practices and actions identified during this process…”

  • COP Decision on Workstream 2, Adaptation
    Decides to launch a second Technical Examination Process on adaptation in the period 2016-2020…with the meaningful participation of non-Party stakeholders, to enhance adaptation action and support, share best practices and address gaps in implementation, knowledge, finance, technology, planning and institutional capacity.”

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