EPW Delegation to Greenland

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 02 Aug 2007 14:43:00 GMT

Last weekend, Sen. Barbara Boxer led a delegation from the Environment and Public Works Committee to Greenland:
  • Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.)
  • Ben Cardin (D-Md.)
  • Bill Nelson (D-Fl.)
  • Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.)
  • Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
  • Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)
  • Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.)
  • Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)
  • Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Inhofe sent staffer Mark Morano, a former writer for the rightwing Cybercast News Service. Richard Alley of Penn State University, the lead author on the United States Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was the scientific advisor on the trip. They met with Arkalo Abelsen, Greeland’s environmental minister.

News coverage

* Associated Press: Georgia senator views effects of climate change in Greenland
Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia traveled to Greenland over the weekend to get a firsthand glimpse at the effects of global warming.

The first-term Republican from Marietta said the trip reinforced his belief that the United States should gradually move away from fossil fuels like oil and coal. But it didn’t convince him that more urgent steps are needed, and he remains unconvinced that the current warming is a departure from long-term natural cycles.

“There is no question that carbon (dioxide) is contributing to the warming but there’s also no question that warming is cyclical and has happened in the past,” he said in a phone interview Monday.

Renewable Fuels Infrastructure

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 31 Jul 2007 18:30:00 GMT

The Subcommittee on Energy will receive testimony on how to improve our renewable fuels infrastructure to accommodate the increasing volumes of renewable fuels in the transportation sector.

Witnesses
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
  • Alexander Karsner, assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy, Department of Energy
  • David Terry, project coordinator, Governors’ Ethanol Coalition
  • Charles Drevna, executive vice president, National Petrochemical and Refiners Association
  • Jonathan Lehman, advisor, VeraSun Corp.
  • Deborah Morrissett, vice president of regulatory affairs/product development, Chrysler Technology Center
  • Phillip Lampert, executive director, National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition.

2:44 PM Klobuchar Ethanol and biodiesel are near and dear to Minnesota, but I believe this is also an issue of national security. I’m glad the energy bill requires auto manufacturers to have 50% of their vehicles be flexfuel by 2015. Minnesota ranks first in E85 infrastructure.

2:56 PM Karsner An E85 infrastructure should be a goal but not an exclusive goal. We see no technical reason why flexfuel vehicles cannot be more ubiquitous across all markets.

Dorgan Do you think the marketplace will solve this problem?

Karsner I think the question is whether we have the proper stimulus.

Dorgan I’ve talked about the gas company impediments.

Karsner I had lunch with Gov. Pataki. On a state by state basis those issues are being addressed. On E85 we have a need to address it.

Dorgan Franchises are barred from listing E85 on their signs.

Karsner I can’t speak for the position of the franchise owner, but the New York model may be something we need to examine.

Dorgan Conoco Phillips will not allow sales on the primary island. Should we just wait for the states to deal with it?

Karsner The New York example has been tested. I’m not an expert on contract law. Is it an impediment? Obviously, yes.

Dorgan When we see this kind of restraint on the sale of E85, should we act, or say so be it?

Karsner Something needs to be done. Some policy stimulus. I don’t start with the premise that the oil companies are necessarily an adversary to the outcome.

Dorgan It appears to me their actions are adversarial to the sale of E85.

Karsner Were I a franchisee I likely would see it that way.

Dorgan What about as a policy maker? Keep it off the main island, don’t allow credit cards, don’t allow advertising.

Karsner I understand your meaning. Fundamentally you have a conflict between the national imperatives and the law. The problem is that this is private contract which both parties have joined freely with.

Dorgan You seem to suggest the intermediate blends might get faster adoption.

Karsner Intermediate blends goes as low as anything above E10. All pumps are certified for E15. In theory you could aggressively pursue E85 and E15 at the same time.

Dorgan Our goal is 36 billion gallons. If we don’t market it, we won’t get there.

3:22 PM Under questioning from Tester: Karsner It may be that the oil companies’ agreements are not aligned with the national security imperative.

Tester There’s a lot of misinformation out there about ethanol. Is there action on the part of the DOE to solve that problem?

Karsner It’s not a one-time story.

Carbon Market Efficiency Board

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 30 Jul 2007 17:14:00 GMT

Last week, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) presented the Containing and Managing Climate Change Costs Efficiently Act (S. 1874), a piece of legislation authored by Joe Lieberman’s former environmental advisor, Timothy Profeta, who now heads the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University.

The proposal would establish the Carbon Market Efficiency Board which would oversee the emissions trading market established by cap-and-trade legislation. The board would operate much like the Federal Reserve Board, providing information on price and low-emission technology investment trends to Congress and the public, and it would adjust the price of emissions permits when a “market correction” is needed. The first measure is to expand companies’ ability to “bank” permits, or borrow permits against future year reductions. The second measure, to be used if high prices are not relieved by the first measure, is to add a slightly larger number of permits to the market. This temporary increase would be compensated for by reducing available permits in a later year, when more options have been developed.

Profeta testified about the proposal in last week’s hearing. His white paper goes into further detail.

The bill is intended to be folded into the Lieberman-Warner package to be presented as a discussion draft at the end of the week.

John Warner (R-Va.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) are cosponsoring the bill, in a bipartisan show of strength by pro-business Senators. [The League of Conservation Voters/Chamber of Commerce scores for the senators are: Warner 14%/100%, Graham 29%/92%, Landrieu 43%/75%, Lincoln 43%/67%. By way of comparison, Lieberman is 71%/44%.]

Responses to the proposal:

EPA Administrator "defers" to the Department of Transportation

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 26 Jul 2007 16:43:00 GMT

At today’s hearing on the California waiver, EPA administrator Stephen Johnson refused to condemn or even comment on the Department of Transportation’s lobbying against the waiver. He also refused to state whether or not the administration is opposed to the request.

In his testimony, he admitted speaking to the Secretary of the Department of Transportation, Mary E. Peters, at the beginning of the comment period, and obfuscated over what they discussed. He admitted that they discussed reaching out to her “constituency”, which when pressed by Sen. Boxer, he understood to mean governors and members “particularly interested” in transportation. He avoided saying what the Secretary’s intentions or views were and whether he recommended the “constituency” should send in comments.

His new excuse for not making a decision on the waiver request is the “voluminous” amount of comments. He was understandably accused of footdragging by the Democrats on the panel.

The case for the California waiver, including an update from the Environmental Protection Agency

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 26 Jul 2007 14:00:00 GMT

_Witness_
  • Stephen Johnson, Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

10:53 Inhofe is attacking a statement made by the president of the American Council on Renewable Energy. This is so typical of these hate-filled people. I was called a traitor by one of the extreme left. See if it’s appropriate to be a part of this organization. “It is my intention to destroy your career as a liar. I will launch a campaign against you. Go ahead guy, take me on.” The waiver request strikes me as a backdoor effort, though I need some education on this, to usurp the Congress’s role in setting CAFE standards. If a handful of states are able to come up with standards different from the United States, what will happen to CAFE standards?

Johnson There are two sections of the Clean Air Act: Section 209, for California waiver petitions. There are three conditions if any are triggered to deny the petition. Section 202 deals with mobile sources.

Inhofe It’s very elaborate what the law requires you to do. I think you have done your job. How can California assess the CAFE standards to be so radically different from the Department of Transportation’s estimation? CARB requires about 44 MPGs and 27 MPGs for trucks. Don’t you think the federal regulators know more about it than CARB? How can CARB’s mistaken feasibility assessment be corrected?

Johnson There is a case before the 9th Circuit. In the meantime we are continue to review and evaluate voluminous and unprecedented comments on the waiver.

11:01 Lautenberg I think you’re wrong on this issue. It amounts to footdragging.

Johnson I don’t believe it is legal for me to lobby any member of Congress. I think it is good for members of Congress to talk with each other. The responsibility to make a decision lies solely with me.

Lautenberg We’re talking about a forever delay here. Eighteen months while the air is pollution, despite Sen. Inhofe’s disbelief climate change is happening. He called it a hoax. We have hoax floods and hoax droughts and hoax hurricanes and hoax tornadoes. Mr. Johnson, the one thing I don’t want to see happen is the demise of our automobile industry. But it ought not be juxtaposed with the threat of climate change. This footdragging is unacceptable. Is it true that the request for the waiver has been in for eighteen months?

Johnson The waiver request came in December 2005. In February of 2007 we informed California that we were going to await the Supreme Court decision.

Lautenberg Those details are irrelevant to the urgency of climate change.

Johnson I agree that there is an urgency to deal with the voluminous comments. Climate change is a very serious issue and we have a responsibility to deal with this in a timely and deliberate fashion. There are still thousands of comments. We just received 800 pages from California. It takes time for our staff to do a thorough review.

Lautenberg Why don’t we see the urgency to do something about climate change? Can you imagine that California is trying to delay this?

Boxer California is going to sue to get action.

11:12 Lautenberg If this was a fire, action would be taken. We are facing lots of dangerous situations. Any delays put our society at risk. I urge you to try and expedite this waiver request.

11:14 Carper I want you to fully respond to my request.

Johnson Thank you for your leadership. I want to apologize for any miscommunication.

11:24 Boxer These thirteen states want to do it yesterday.

11:30 Boxer The EPA’s job is to protect the public health and welfare. Is the Bush administration opposed to granting the waiver?

Johnson We’re going through a very deliberate process.

Boxer Is the administration opposed to granting this waiver?

Johnson The administration recognizes the responsibility to make an independent decision.

Boxer The DOT was calling members of Congress attacking the waiver. Is it appropriate for the administration to lobby Congress against the waiver?

Johnson I respectfully defer to the Department of Transportation.

Boxer You are responsible for the health and welfare of the people of this country. You sit here and can’t condemn that this administration has been lobbying Congress against this waiver.

Johnson I’m not responsible for the DOT. I defer to the DOT.

Boxer If you defer you say that you think it’s okay.

Johnson I defer to the DOT.

Boxer Since we know members of DOT were actively lobbying members of Congress, were you aware this was going on?

Johnson I told the secretary of the DOT I was inclined not to grant an extension.

Boxer That’s not my question.

Johnson I described my awareness in my conversation with the secretary of the DOT.

Boxer Did you try to stop the DOT from soliciting opposition?

Johnson My responsibility is not to the DOT.

Johnson I’m good, but I’m not that good to oversee every email in the DOT. I did not see a script;

Boxer You did not know they were lobbying Congress.

Johnson I only talked with her about talking with her constituency.

Boxer Who’s her constituency? She’s not an elected official.

Johnson There are members of Congress and governors who are particularly interested in transportation issues.

Boxer Your constituency is the American people. I believe this administration has already decided not to grant this waiver. My belief is there’s going to be hiding behind this executive order. Now you’re using the comments, most of which are form letters in favor of the waiver, as an excuse. You’ve said nothing to condemn what the DOT did. Your job is to protect my constituents and the rest of the country. I couldn’t be more disappointed. We’re going to keep the pressure on. Thank you very much and we stand adjourned.

The Environmental Protection Agency's Environmental Justice programs

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 25 Jul 2007 18:00:00 GMT

Panel 1
  • Granta Nakayama, Assistant Administrator, Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assistance, Environmental Protection Agency
  • Wade Najjum, Assistant Inspector General for Program Evaluation, Office of the Inspector General, Environmental Protection Agency
  • John B. Stephenson, Director, Natural Resources and Environment, U.S. Government Accountability Office
Panel 2
  • Representative Harold Mitchell, South Carolina State Legislature
  • Dr. Robert Bullard, Director, Environmental Justice Resource Center, Clark Atlanta University
  • Peggy Shepard, Executive Director, West Harlem Environmental Action (WE ACT)
  • Dr. Beverly Wright, Founder and Director, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice
  • Michael W. Steinberg, Senior Counsel, Morgan, Lewis, Bockius LLP

Economic and international issues, focusing on global warming policy 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 24 Jul 2007 18:30:00 GMT

From CQ Green Sheets: Senate Environment Presses Ahead on Federal, State Climate Action

Summary: Lieberman & Warner are working on carbon cap-and-trade legislation. Their staff is working hard right now to get the legislation written before the August recess, but they might not make that target. The witnesses at this hearing give a hint as to what the legislation will look like.

Witnesses

  • Timothy Profeta, Director, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, Duke University, former Lieberman staffer and the principal author of the 2003 Lieberman-McCain cap-and-trade legislation
  • Blythe S. Masters, Managing Director, JP Morgan Securities, Inc., supporter of carbon trading
  • Robert Baugh, Executive Director, Industrial Union Council, AFL-CIO, supports Bingman-like (S 1766) elements like “safety valve” emission cost caps and money for carbon sequestration
  • Garth Edward, Trading Manager, Shell International Trading and Shipping Company, supporter of carbon trading
  • Margo Thorning Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, American Council for Capital Formation, believes cap-and-trade evil and the European experience a failure

2:33 PM Lieberman Our staffs have been reaching out to all stakeholders. Two questions people ask are 1) what do we do if there’s an economic emergency? 2) This is a global problem. Yes, let’s say that America is going to take a leadership role, but unless China and India also do so, our hard work will have little overall effect. So how do we deal with that?

This morning Warner introduced an emergency off-ramp provision they hope to be included in any cap-and-trade legislation. I think it has the flexibility to deal with a genuine economic crisis.

Earlier this month Bingaman and Specter introduced a bill with interesting and thoughtful provisions. The most interesting addresses the second question.

There was a report published by the EPA today, an economic analysis of the Lieberman-McCain bill. I congratulate the EPA on a first-rate piece of work.

2:41 PM Warner This is an extraordinary challenge.

2:43 PM Lieberman There’s no chance of victory unless you lay a beachhead.

2:43 PM Boxer I am so pleased at the leadership you’re both showing. You’re on a great mission. I want to thank the private sector for being so far out ahead of us on many ways. We’re going to go to Greenland if we don’t have to be here this weekend. I hope that type of a trip is going to put more wind behind our sails. I understand Sen. Warner is working on an innovative program for borrowing emissions permits. Stern indicated the cost of failing to act greatly outweighs the cost of action. We hope you will look at Sanders-Boxer. Certainly the borrowing of emissions permits. We can allow facilities to bank their emissions. In terms of international emissions we need to make sure other countries do their part.

All in all I couldn’t be more pleased with the progress we’re making. I stand ready to work with everyone as the chair.

2:49 Inhofe This is our 16th hearing on global warming. I’m pleased that you’re having this hearing. This is the first in which we’re dealing with substantive issues. It seems clear to me that cap-and-trade doesn’t work, that Kyoto is a beacon of what not to do. I just don’t think it has been working. The body has now passed two resolutions on global warming: Byrd-Hagel said we would not want to ratify any treaty that would inflict serious economic damage on our country. Not one of the bills will avoid this; maybe the one you’re working on. According to the MIT study, the Sanders-Boxer bill would cost hundreds of dollars for a family of four, similarly with the Lieberman-McCain bill. Half a trillion dollars by 2030, using lowball assumptions. It does nothing to encourage reductions from the number one emitter, China. Even the Bingaman bill would export millions of jobs, mostly to China. It’s bad enough we have job flight to China, now we’d be exporting jobs and emitting more over there.

I’ve said if we’re going to do this, let’s be honest about it and have a carbon tax. I don’t want a tax, but given the choice I would take the more honest approach.

Even if there is a man-made problem, shouldn’t any approach do something about China?

2:56 Sanders It is also important to understand what happens if we do not go forward aggressively. The WHO tells us today already 1 million people have died. The CIA are now examining the implications of drought and hunger. I am optimistic we do know how to address this crisis. I think we can create millions of high-paying jobs. If we move forward in terms of energy efficiency we can reduce house energy costs by 40%. Right now in terms of job creation. More often than not we are importing our photovoltaics even though we developed the technology.

I cannot support a safety valve. It is a white flag.

3:00 Craig If this is a beachhead, I am here to stop the landmines.

3:01 Warner The chairman and I have decided to forge this partnership. We’re going to put out a study document instead of a bill before we leave for August, so that we may receive the benefit of your comments.’

Lieberman Yes, essentially a draft proposal, give people a chance to say what they like and do not like. And then we’ll offer a bill to the subcommittee as quickly as possible in September.

Boxer Thank you for your timetable. Assuming we do make this timeframe, our plan would be to look at all of the economy-wide proposals when we get back and look to you as the base of documents, I’m trusting to get the best of the ideas from the previous proposals.

3:04 Lieberman This is a global problem and we want to come up with a national response.

3:06 Profeta The issues you seek to address today are the ones the Senate set as sticking points: cost containment and international competitiveness.

The problem of global warming is intertwined with every action in our life. Fortunately several members in the committee have committed to action. Cap-and-trade system is the best cost containment. Any proposal should maintain the environmental integrity of the program. It should maximize the use of market-based mechanisms, and be long term. Our proposal involves a board with the power to modify emissions allowances to adjust the economic impact. This proposal does not claim to know the unknowable, what the price of carbon will need to be. This plan cleanly addresses the uncertainty.

We still need to ensure comparable action by trading partners. We talked with major corporations and trade disparity came screaming out at us. Our efforts focused on article 20 of the GATT. In general, first the US engages in a good faith effort, applied evenhandedly to domestic and foreign products. Our assessment of the Bingaman-Specter language is that it is consistent with our effort.

3:16 Masters We established a group to help our clients reduce carbon emissions. J.P. Morgan is an international company. We recognize global warming represents grave risks to the international economy. Congress is studying whether to start a cap-and-trade framework. J.P. Morgan supports such a framework. GHG emissions (“carbon”) must have a price. There are precedents for this. It’s my understanding, Sen. Warner, you played a major role in the acid rain cap-and-trade system, which worked and below cost.

The US is understandably tooking to contain compliance costs. Having said that, there are multiple approaches to cost containment. Prices will tend to be lower the more supply there is. The easiest way to expand emissions supply is to increase carbon offsets. I don’t have a precise recommendation but there is an ideal balance. One of the mistakes of the Kyoto Protocol is to prohibit the preservation of tropical forests.

Price controls will prevent Europe and other carbon markets from linking to the US cap-and-trade system. Neither the acid rain nor the European system use price controls. Despite not having price controls in place, neither producers nor consumers in the European system have suffered.

3:28 Baugh On behalf of the 10 million members of the AFL-CIO I thank you. Climate change is a major problem. Our energy task force has been informed by science and economic reality. We endorsed Bingaman-Specter. One: it made a significant statement about the environment. It has a timetable that balances environment with economy. It ensures a modest effect on prices. One of its most important aspects is its commitment to technology investment. The point of the allowances is to ensure a positive change.

3:42 Edward Shell was the first business to transact in these systems. Shell believes a cap-and-trade system is ideally suited for energy production. It is not ideally suited for transportation. I’ll talk about what cap-and-trade allows us to do.

An emissions market drives the most efficient way to reduce emissions. It does function as a cost containment mechanism by itself. The wider the pool of reduction opportunities, the less exposed the overall market is to short term impacts. Other ways to constrain costs are through offsets. Shell believes carbon sequestration will be a major future offset. Clearly there must be robust rules. Regulators, investors, and the public have a vested interest that these rules are rock-solid. The US will help its industry by making sure its system interlocks with international credit markets.

The EU has not allowed unlimited access to international credits, but the access has reduced volatility and costs. Shell believes allowances should be granted free at the beginning of any program. Auctions require upfront costs from the companies that need to spend on changes. Shell does not support price caps because they sacrifice the environmental goal at the heart of the program. A price cap compromises the emissions cap. In effect, you can have a guaranteed emissions level or a guaranteed price level, but not both. A price cap makes cap-and-trade like a tax. With the price cap, the incentive to invest in new technology is also capped.

3:51 PM Thorning Listening to the testimony of the earlier witnesses we must focus on the most cost-effective ways to achieve the goals. I’d like raise three issues: 1) energy security of supply, 2) environmental protection 3) reduction of global energy poverty. She’s giving the same testimony she did two weeks ago.

4:09 PM Lieberman Based on the international experience, how has the EU dealt with the problem? Are there “emergency off ramps”, “safety valves”?

Edward There is no safety valve per se. There is access to international markets. There is access to more supply, rather than an interventionist price cap.

Masters There was a trial run to be used for adjustments. What was terrific is that we can learn from that experience here. There was an instance of a significant price adjustment in 2006.

4:13 Warner I was a lawyer once. As we move forward what do we do to make sure these markets are not fraudulent?

Masters In arguing against a “safety valve” we are not arguing these markets should not be regulated. There is significant risk of cheating. The best way to achieve an orderly market is to ensure there are oversight mechanisms, in particular a body that establishes standards that can be independently verified. There are two markets today: compliance markets and voluntary markets. There have been some instances of fraud in voluntary carbon markets that don’t have the same standards the compliance markets do. It’s important that there is regulation, transparency, standards, and standards that are uniformly supplied.

Warner We’re looking at our federal reserve system as a model. By the way I’m guilty of the “off ramp”. Our state has a lot of mountains.

Edward These markets are not significantly different from other markets. We understand registry systems, validation of emissions, tax treatment. Basically, emissions markets will be audited the same way as financial markets.

Warner The status of CCS. Can we expedite it to build a bridge to get to another level of technology?

Profeta It’s one of the elements of a longer term strategy. The EU analysis is that there is no way that the US, with its supplies of coal, can manage the transition without CCS. A price cap would not get us to invest enough into this sector.

4:30 Profeta Its desire is to stimulate engagement with these countries, where we have liquidity across the markets.

4:31 Inhofe I walked in at a time I have not heard discussed before. You cannot tell people who are struggling to have enough to eat to reduce their emissions. China is the beneficiary of efforts we have here. I’m surprised at the AFL-CIO’s position here. You’ve endorsed the Bingaman bill that unilaterally caps our emissions here.

Baugh We agree China is not going to listen to us unless they have a reason to listen to us.

Energy Conversation: No Longer Tilting At Windmills

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 23 Jul 2007 21:45:00 GMT

EnergyConversation.org

Co Sponsored by: DoD, DoE, USDA, EPA, DoT, DHS, FERC, Commerce, State, and DNI on behalf of the entire intelligence community.

5:45 PM -8:30 PM Doubletree Hotel, 300 Army Navy Drive, Arlington, VA

Wind technology is evolving rapidly and becoming more cost effective compared to conventional generation sources.

This month’s Energy Conversation will review the evolution of the technology over the past 25 years and evaluate the future development expected. Dr. Bob Thresher, Director of The National Wind Technology Center, and Rob Gramlich, Policy Director at The American Wind Energy Association, will illustrate the future potential for development both on land and in the ocean and describe the challenges.

Rob Gramlich is Policy Director of the American Wind Energy Association, the trade association for over 1000 entities involved in development, manufacturing, and construction of wind energy facilities. He leads the association’s policy analysis, regulatory policy, electric industry, and transmission efforts. He was Economic Advisor to Chairman Pat Wood III of the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission from 2001 to 2005 and has held market and policy analysis positions with the PG&E National Energy Group, PJM Interconnection, the World Resources Institute, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He has a Masters in Public Policy from UC Berkeley and a BA with honors in Economics from Colby College.

Dr. Bob Thresher is the Director of the National Wind Technology Center in Golden, Colorado, which is a division of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). He earned a tenured professorship in Mechanical Engineering at Oregon State University where he taught courses in Applied Mechanics, and initiated pioneering researcher in the mechanics of Wind Energy Systems during the 1970’s and early 80’s. He joined NREL in 1984 and has provided leadership for the growth of NREL’s wind program from $5MM/year at its inception, to its current level of about $30MM/year. He has published extensively and is recognized internationally as one of the leading experts in research, development and commercialization of wind technologies. He also serves as a member of the Advisory Panel on Ocean Energy Technologies for the Electric Power Research Institute.

  • THE EVENT IS FREE*
  • Registration is not mandatory but STRONGLY encouraged
  • Refreshments: A vegetarian friendly buffet is available for $10.
  • Transportation. The Pentagon City Metro on the blue/yellow line is just 3 blocks from the hotel.
  • Parking: Street parking is limited. Hotel parking with validation costs $8.

To register for this event email Sarah Minczeski at: minczes@cna.org

Pew Center: Voters Demand Stronger CAFE Standards 2

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 23 Jul 2007 19:31:00 GMT

With a vote on CAFE legislation in the House expected to come next week, the Pew Campaign for Fuel Efficiency today released new bipartisan polling in Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida and Michigan that pulled from more than 30 congressional districts. The surveys found overwhelming voter support for the U.S. House of Representatives to pass CAFE legislation at least as strong as those passed by the U.S. Senate in June. One particular district surveyed was John Dingell’s, Michigan-15.

The polls compared the elements of the Markey-Platts bill (HR 1506) with those of the industry-supported Hill-Terry bill (HR 2927), and found overwhelming, across-the-board support for Markey-Platts across all demographic groups (partisanship, income, type of car, age, etc.). Voters just don’t buy the industry arguments against CAFE standards, believing that cars will continue to be safe and affordable and that the American auto industry and auto workers will be better off as they will be forced to innovate.

As Bill McInturff, the GOP pollster said in the briefing, “There’s really strong Republican support for higher standards, do it quicker, make it binding.” Voters see this as an economic, environmental, national security issue, and would feel better about Congress and their own representative if strong legislation is passed.

Voters in Dingell’s district look like the voters elsewhere.

The pollsters deliberately avoided global warming because they see it as a partisan issue.

Districts surveyed by The Mellman Group (D) and Public Opinion Strategies® July 13-16:

  • OH-4, 6, 9, 11, 12 ,13, 17, 18 (Jordan, Tubbs Jones, Tiberi, Sutton, Ryan, Space)
  • TN-1, 5, 6, 8 (Davis, Cooper, Gordon, Tanner)
  • KY-3, 6 (Yarmuth, Chandler)
  • PA-1, 3, 4, 11, 12, 17 (Brady, English, Altmire, Kanjorski, Murtha, Holden)
  • NC-2, 3, 7, 11, 12 (Etheridge, Jones, McIntyre, Shuler, Watt)
  • FL-2, 9, 16, 17, 18, 20, 22, 25 (Boyd, Bilirakis, Mahoney, Meek, Ros-Lehtinen, Wasserman Schultz, Klein, Diaz-Balart)
  • MI-15 (Dingell)

Oceanic Carbon Offsets ? 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 20 Jul 2007 11:02:00 GMT

Following up on Wednesday’s global warming committee hearing on carbon offsets, the Washington Post covers the company of one of the witnesses, Planktos CEO Russ George.
A small California company is planning to mix up to 80 tons of iron particles into the Pacific Ocean 350 miles west of the Galapagos islands to see whether it can make a splash in the markets where people seek to offset their greenhouse gas emissions.

Planktos – with 24 employees, a Web site and virtually no revenue – has raised money to send a 115-foot boat called the Weatherbird II on a voyage to stimulate the growth of plankton that could boost the ocean’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the air. The company plans to estimate the amount of carbon dioxide captured and sell it on the nascent carbon-trading markets. . . . Environmental groups say the Planktos project could have unforeseen side effects, and the Environmental Protection Agency has warned that the action may be subject to regulation under the Ocean Dumping Act. . . . The Surface Ocean Lower Atmosphere Study, an international research group, said last month that “ocean fertilization will be ineffective and potentially deleterious, and should not be used as a strategy for offsetting CO2 emissions.” The International Maritime Organization scientific group, the Friends of the Earth and the World Wildlife Fund have condemned it. And a group called the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said its own ship would monitor the Planktos vessel and possibly “intercept” it.

On Wednesday, George appeared before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and lashed back at his critics. The EPA was working with “radical environmental groups,” he said. In written submissions, he said his firm’s work had been “falsely portrayed” to “generate public alarm.” . . . . George said “it’s the clearest ocean on Earth because it’s lifeless, and it’s not supposed to be that way.”

George asserts that the potential is enormous. He said that the annual drop in ocean plant life was like losing all the rain forests every year. “If we succeed, we’ll have created an industry,” he told the House committee. “If we don’t succeed, we’ll have created a lot of great science.”

Quotes from a few experts on the Planktos plan are below the break.

But leading ocean and climate experts have poured cold water on the Planktos plan by saying that the company can’t accurately measure how much additional carbon would be stored in the ocean or for how long. One reason: Some organisms sink and store carbon deep below the surface. But the overwhelming majority are eaten by fish or other organisms that convert the carbon back into carbon dioxide.

“Actually knowing how much carbon stays down there is a really hard thing,” says Daniel Schrag, director of the Harvard University Center for the Environment.

Schrag said the Planktos project could also generate new algae, which could reduce the amount of oxygen at depths that would endanger other ocean life. “Doing a large-scale ecological experiment before you understand the system is a dangerous thing,” he said.

Others doubt the benefits. “I think iron fertilization in the ocean is not going to make a significant difference to the CO2” problem, said Wally Broecker, a professor of earth and environmental sciences at Columbia University. . . .

Many companies are calling for Congress to set standards for voluntary credits if it does not establish a U.S. version of Europe’s more rigorous cap-and-trade rules.

“The global market for voluntary carbon offsets is currently unregulated,” said Derik Broekhoff, senior associate at the World Resources Institute, “which has led to growing concerns about whether buyers are really getting what they are paying for.”

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