The NASA Administrator's Speech to Office of Inspector General Staff, the Subsequent Destruction of Video Records, and Associated Matters

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 24 May 2007 14:00:00 GMT

Committee site

Since early 2006, Robert Cobb, the inspector general of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), has been under investigation for allegations of misconduct. After a review of 79 allegations, in early 2007, the Integrity Committee of the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency (PCIE), an organization of agency inspectors general, issued a report finding that Mr. Cobb had abused his authority and demonstrated the appearance of a lack of independence from the agency’s top officials, particularly Sean O’Keefe, NASA’s former administrator. Most of the allegations came from current and former employees of NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).

Witnesses

Panel 1
  • Ms. Evelyn R. Klemstine
  • Mr. Kevin Winters
Panel 2
  • Mr. Paul Morrell
  • Mr. Michael Wholley

Montreal Protocol and Global Warming

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 23 May 2007 14:00:00 GMT

On Wednesday, May 23, 2007, the Committee held an oversight hearing on achievements and opportunities for climate protection under the Montreal Protocol. This international environmental treaty established legally binding controls on the production and consumption of substances that deplete the stratospheric ozone layer. Witnesses at the hearing included the lead author of a scientific paper quantifying the climate benefits of the Montreal Protocol, the Executive Director of an international nongovernmental organization with expertise on the Montreal Protocol, and the Global Environmental Manager of DuPont’s fluorochemicals business. At the hearing, the Committee received testimony about cost-effective measures that can be taken under the Montreal Protocol and the Clean Air Act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat global warming.

Witnesses
  • Dr. Guus Velders, lead author of a recent scientific paper quantifying the climate benefits of the Montreal Protocol
  • Mr. Allan Thornton, Executive Director, Environmental Investigation Agency, an international nongovernmental organization with expertise on the Montreal Protocol
  • Dr. Mack McFarland, Environmental Fellow, DuPont Fluoroproducts, a major corporation that manufactures alternatives to substances that deplete the ozone layer
Transcript

The California Waiver LIVE C-SPAN & Green Collar Jobs LIVE

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 23 May 2007 01:11:00 GMT

Tuesday, May 22 2:30 PM: House Energy Independence and Global Warming Green Collar Jobs 2318 Rayburn LIVE WEBCAST Witnesses:
  • Jerome Ringo, President, Apollo Alliance
  • Van Jones, President and Co-Founder Ella Baker Center
  • Elsa Barboza, Campaign Coordinator for Green Industries at the Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE; Los Angeles, CA)
  • Bob Thelen, Chief Training Officer, Capital Area Michigan Works!

2:30 PM: Senate EPW The Case for the California Waiver 406 Dirksen LIVE C-SPAN3 Witnesses:
  • Jerry Brown, Attorney General, Cal.
  • Professor Jonathan H. Adler, Director, Center for Business Law and Regulation, Case Western Reserve University School of Law
  • Honorable Alexander B. Grannis, Commissioner, NY Dept of Environmental Conservation

2:30 Boxer The time to act is well overdue. This is one of the steps the president and EPA administrator to take to demonstrate they will take action to fight global warming. The administrator will appear before this committee on June 21. EPA has granted CA a waiver 40 times in the past years. It has never denied a waiver. The president signed an executive order calling for interagency coordination on any action involving global warming. It may just be an instrument of delay.

I say the California waiver is ripe for action.

2:38 Inhofe As a rule I support states' rights. Air pollution knows no boundaries. The Clean Air Act for all its imperfections has led to cleaner air. The problem is that the state has not made much progress complying with existing federal laws. It is in violation with federal particulate standards, the same with ozone. When I introduced legislation to tighten penalties for counties not in compliance with pollution laws I found that California is the only state not complying with federal law. My bill is not a climate bill, it's a serious attempt to rein in the worst polluters. It is the height of hypocrisy for California to be the tail that wags the dog. The global warming we are now experiencing is part of a natural cycle. According to the NOAA over the last two decades California has cooled by .06 C. If Russia's top scholar scientist is correct that the world is entering a cooling phase then California is leading the world.

2:43 Boxer We have asked for extensions to deal with Clean Air Act because, you may not know, we have 37 million people. I don't think the word "grandstand" has any meaning at all. I don't think our attorney general is grandstanding, nor the governor, nor the legislature.

You can look at our energy use, while we have had an amazing energy use standard. I want to make it clear here that since my state has been attacked head on that noone here is grandstanding.

2:46 Lautenberg This "hoax" is taking over place after place after place. We're here today because the EPA has once again failed to act in the face of science. Last year was the hottest year on record and this year is going to be even hotter. California has been courageous and leaderly in what their going to do with global warming and New Jersey is right there with them. If all the wiavers were granted, 14 million metric tons of carbon reduced by 2020, the equivalent of 12 million cars off the highway. The committee is working to curb global warming. Sen. Sanders is working to cut emissions by 80% by 2050. I hope I won't have to keep running in 2050. Madame Chairman, don't relent.

2:48 Inhofe I would have to say, if we're talking polar bears, the population has doubled in the last 50 years. The thing is interesting that every day, more scientists that were strongly on your side, Claude Allegre, David Bellamy that were strongly on your side are now reevaluating the science.

Lautenberg How can you face every day knowing that catastrophes are happening to children's health? The are those who will continue doubting what is in front of their eyes and what reputable scientists are finding.

2:51 Boxer There are always a few people who say that the world is flat and that HIV doesn't cause AIDS and cigarettes don't cause cancer. It isn't about winning. It's about reality. And as long as I hold the gavel reality will govern this committee.

2:53 Brown Soot and ozone are exacerbated by warming climates. This waiver was signed into law by President Nixon. We're looking at the same problem. California has unique environmental conditions. I was at the hearing this morning. The technological and legal case is overwhelming. I am hoping the EPA administrator will grant the waiver. If he doesn't we will sue him.

3:00 Grannis This morning New York State called on the administrator to grant the waiver as soon as possible. The deabte over climate change is over. Global climate change is everyone's problem.


3:04 Markey Today we will hear about economic opportunities ina green economy. We know that "green collar" jobs are growing and having an impact on the economy. Ethanol has created 155,000 jobs. That is just a fraction of the economic growth the green economy promises.

Sensenbrenner Republicans know something about creating jobs. One question I would like answered today is what exactly a green collar job is. Mr. Jones is dedicated to creating more jobs and for that he is to be commended. I think it is important to distinguish between jobs that create new technology and those which play a supporting role. I am worried that by creating big government programs for so called green-collar job training we are just duplicating the private sector's efforts. Is intalling a solar panel fundamentally different from installing a satellite dish? I am happy that Jerome Ringo of Apollo Alliance is here.


Boxer I say, Mr. Adler, your argument is very weak.

Brown I believe he misstates the law. NITSA has no authority over the Clean Air Act. In Mass. vs. EPA the Supreme Court expressly held that the Clean Air Act runs in parallel with (some other law). When we look at compelling and extraordinary some is that California has always been out in front. It is the general condition that is compelling and extraordinary. Not each individual waiver. Even if you do, greenhouse gases contribute to warming and exacerbate soot, ozone. There's another standard that even if the EPA isn't regulating a standard. If auto companies twenty years ago had made more fuel efficient cars we would have less global warming. If you look at the train of consequences you make the compelling case that by California's action or inaction we affect global warming.

Adler Because climate change is a global phenomenon California does not have distinct needs. I don't think it's an open and shut case. But I do think there are grounds for the EPA to deny the waiver. Notr do I think that if they were to grant the waiver it would ncessarily stand up in court.

It establishes that if California is to regulate greenhouse gases it must apply for a waiver. When we're looking at preemption of state law the Supreme Court decision noted that these obligations may overlap. If a federal standard overlaps with a state standard that would be grounds for preemption.

Inhofe I've always contented the IPCC is very political. On the other hand when the IPCC came out downgrading the estimates of sea level rise they cut this in half in the worst case scenario. In the same month they're downgrading the sea level rise they're downgrading the level of contribution from human activity, saying the contribution from livestock outweighs the transportation sector. Unless we're absolutely certain we're right I don't want to pass what would amount to a huge tax increase.

3:36 Grannis We don't think we're nuts. Clearly this is an issue of national importance.

Lautenberg We see it in marine ecology, we see it in the loss of coral.

Grannis The spawning seasons for striped bass are changing. It all adds up.

Brown California doesn't have to say that the compelling reason has to be unique to California. Number two as climate goes up the criteria pollutants get worse. We're on very solid ground. In the Massachusetts case the minority said that the damage to Massachusetts was so trivial Massachusetts didn't have standing to sue. The majority did. The standing will be judged by the majority. You're right. Depending on the Supreme Court. Very clearly, Scalia and Thomas said what they think, which is why it matters who will be the next president.

3:39 Whitehouse We're one of the EPA 12, logjammed by the EPA. I know Adler said two months is a fast time for the EPA to act. But the EPA has sat on its hands for years. The backside of Mr. Adler's argument is that this isn't a local problem but this is a problem for our species. The arguments that were made in our favor in Mass v. EPA were not frivolous arguments. They were not nonsensical arguments. Indeed, they prevailed. The idea that the EPA has to start from a cold-standing start, I'm not willing to give the EPA a pass on how long it takes. They could have run on parallel tracks. There is no reason for them to be hiding behind the skirts of bureaucratic delay. I can't tell you haow frustrating it is. I regret the position you're taking, Mr. Adler.

Adler That's never been EPA's practice. Congress has forced action when it feels EPA is moving too slow. At the end of day, if urgent action is needed, Congress can move much more quickly. I'm not going to defend that system. That is the norm. That is what is set up. I can give examples where EPA lost years ago and still haven't taken action.

Whitehouse I'm not comforted by the argument they could be slower.

Boxer That's a ridiculous argument. Excuse me for being so blunt. You can shake your head all your want. If the EPA were true to its mission instead of the Environmental Pollution Agency under this administration. The fact is if an agency is dedicated to its mission, what it used to be like under Republican and Democratic administrations, each day it works to help the American people.

I'm just going to close this and make a few points. Global warming is real. There's 100% agreement that it's real by the world's leading scientists. They're 90% certain humans are the cause. If a doctor told you your child had 90% chance of having cancer and an operation would cure that child you would act. And all the leading doctors agreed. This isn't a rush job. The waiver was requested in 2005. I read that Supreme Court decision. It's plain English. It's pretty clear. They chastised this administration. I will send a signal to Mr. Johnson if Mr. Johnson uses this as a platform and says he is granting the waiver I would leave this podium and give him a hug.

This is a bipartisan issue. Only here it's not. Everyone has said this is a challenge, we're not afraid of it, we're going to act in a neighborhood we call California. And for those who say they champion states' rights to block our efforts is at the very least hypocritical. I will save my stronger language for another day.

Mr. Adler, I appreciate you coming here. Even though you were wrong.

So many years ago when Mr. Brown was governor he started a solar panel initiative. In the 70s he said we have to do more to be energy independent. So thank you for your eloquence and the committee stands adjourned.

Climate change relating to national security threats

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 09 May 2007 13:30:00 GMT

“National Security and the Threat of Climate Change
  • Admiral Joseph W. Prueher, USN (Ret.), Former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, Former Ambassador to China
  • General Charles F. Wald, USAF (Ret.), Former Deputy Commander, U.S. European Command
  • Vice Admiral Richard H. Truly, USN (Ret.), Former NASA Administrator, Shuttle Astronaut and the First Commander of the Naval Space Command

10:00 Adm. Prueher We have not yet grappled with the effects of climate change on national security. There are four fundamental changes

  • Climate change is a threat to the national security of the United States
  • Threat multiplier in unstable regions
  • Adds to tensions in stable regions
  • Climate change, national security and energy independence are interconnected

Our energy supply is finite, foreign, and fickle. Our focus on climate change may help us. It is not a distraction. The US alone cannot solve this issue.

What we cannot do is wait.

10:08 Adm. Truly It's hard to see how these marginal areas won't become worse.

Middle East is notable for two resources: oil in its abundance and water in its scarcity.

Another threat is the observed and projected sea level rise and the increase in storms, with its effect on coastal regions. In the Pacific particularly there are literally low-lying island nations that could be inundated. We have strategic installations that are at very low sea level, for example Diego Garcia. Sea level rise will also pose a major risk to the delta regions of the world, such as the mouth of the Ganges at the Bay of Bengal. This is one of the most densely populated areas on earth. A small sea level rise of inches could displace millions of people. As they turn to walk to drier ground, they face the borders of India and East Pakistan.

We are used to normally dealing with single conflicts that are geographically confined. If the Niger river delta becomes flooded and stressed, and the mouth of the Ganges, so will the Yangtse, the Mekong, and the Mississippi at the same time.

The climate models project significant decreases in rainfall in Mexico and South America, which could increase immigration stresses. In the Arctic Ocean, all indications are that the Northwest Passage will become passable part of the year, and later in the century the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free in the summer. Is the Northwest Passage Canadian territorial water, or international?

Also we've heard a lot about melting of the Greenland ice cap and the west Antarctica ice sheet. There's great uncertainty but they are major issues that have to be studied.

We came together with just a few examples of what we've studied the last few months.

10:18 Gen. Wald: Africa. The problems will likely be exacerbated by climate change. We also need to look at massive population migrations, pandemics, and water shortages caused by climate change. Looking at one country, Nigeria. Even with relative prosperity there is very limited government to provide services like water and electricity. If the Niger delta were to be flooded or oil production destroyed by storms, the main income source would be eliminated. The official population of Lagos is 6.5 million; I suspect it's more like 17 million, most of them living in the most abject poverty I've ever seen.

It makes the possibility of conflict very real. Darfur shows us how climate is exacerbating marginal areas. The same could be said of Somalia, where prolonged floods worsened the situation.

There are many reasons why Americans should be concerned by Africa's problems. We import more energy from Africa than from the Middle East.

Other powerful nations including China are taking a powerful interest in Africa, primarily due to oil and mineral resources.

Climate change could be a threat multiplier in every global region.

The Military Advisory Board drew a very narrow line in making these recommendations, sticking only to national security.

Some steps include reconsidering our energy use and carbon emissions, and working with other nations.

10:25 Biden In understanding and planning for national security threats, what would you say to someone that says we're already stretched thin and we shouldn't glorify an environmental issue, add more responsibilities to our intelligence community?

Prueher: There are urgent security issues and important ones. Climate change is an important issue that is on its way to becoming urgent. We have the opportunity to look at it now before it becomes urgent. We can get ahead of this issue. There is momentum with climate change. The situation will continue to worsen. The point of putting it in a National Intelligence Estimate. It needs to be in the NSDs, the quadrennial review.

Biden At some point our ability to respond to climate change will be vastly limited. How much time do we have? My recollection was that report was about 2040 or in that range.

Prueher We looked at that.

Biden Coal accounts for 70% of China's energy use. They have a 10% annual growth rate. What are your views on China's energy situation? He keeps calling Adm. Prueher "General."

Prueher They see their energy use necessary to their economic growth. They have a beginning awareness of environmental hazards. I'd like to extend a bouquet to Sec. Paulson and the baby steps he's taking to get them engaged.

10:32 Biden Do your colleagues share your sense of urgency? Even though they're up to their ankles in alligators, stretched thin.

Wald I doubt most have thought about it as much as we have, but they would catch up quickly. The Army is stretched thin in Iraq but the military is a lot larger than that. I think China can be a competitor without being an adversary, but the jury's out on that. In the European Command we're in the process of recruiting people from US AID, etc. on unconventional threats.

Truly Most of our military today are not paying attention to this issue. I hope my grandson in between deployments to Columbia and Afghanistan is not thinking about climate change. But most would agree that the time to plan would be now.

Biden I met with 15 generals insisting I holler about torture and civil liberties. The most informed people I have met about civil liberties by and large have been wearing stars on their shoulders.

10:36 Lugar How do you go about addressing this in a practical matter? If someone running for office says we'll have CAFE standards, standards for energy efficiency. We're going to prove the automotive industry can innovate fast enough, ditto for the electricy industry. My point is unless there's that kind of leadership, it seems to me inconceivable that the Chinese and the Indians could believe they could do it.

Prueher We're not politicians. I don't know whether someone could win on an environmental ticket. If we try to lead without having our skirts being pretty clean we can get discounted out of hand. If we are doing what we need to do to gain energy security we can at least have the conversation with the Chinese and Indians. Technological solutions is one of our core strengths, and it's part of the answer.

It is possible to do it. It's immoral and irresponsible not to try.

Sec. Paulson's willingness to take baby steps with the Chinese is I think the approach we have to take with them.

10:43 Kerry Some will pass by this hearing. The room is half full, and hlalf the committee is here. But this is one of the most important hearings. I'd like to put an exclamation point on this testimony. In 2004 I did run for president saying all of these things, but they were hidden in a cloak by the discussion on the war on terror and what it was really about. Egypt is full of poverty. If global climate change continues to occur the capacity for extreme ideas and radical madrassas will dramatically increase.

I was with Al Gore in the first hearings. We've been at this issue for 20 years. The science we had 15 years ago is proving true. There's a certainty that it's warming. There's an absolute certainty that humans are contributing to it. If you accept the science, then you are duty bound to accept what they're telling us what is happening. Scientists are conservative in their pronouncements. They say what they can prove. They're all telling us that it's happening at a greater rate than what they predicted. Pre-industrial revolution we had 280 ppm. We're at 380 ppm now. Whereas two years ago they thought we could tolerate a 3 degree Celsius change without catastrophe they've recalibrated that, due to what they're finding. The ice melt, the movement of species, the loss of coral. They're telling us we can tolerate 450 ppm, not 550 ppm. What's already in the atmosphere guarantees a change of 1.5 degrees C. We have about a 70 ppm cushion, 0.5 degree cushion. We can't tolerate any more coal-fired plants if we're going to be responsible.

The foreign delegations are aware of this. Only the United States has refused. That affects our foreign policy. It has a profound impact on people's thoughts that we're a scofflaw. There isn't anything more important than this. Trees and forests are going to migrate.

The technologies are there. We need 10 demonstration projects in the next few years. We shouldn't be contracting any fleet that aren't hybrid or efficient. We can do this. We have a long way to go.

Our military, I believe, is going to have to be far more trained and flexible.  You folks are powerful validators for how important this is.

10:54 Hagel I believe that until we come to a complete understanding that we cannot talk about the environment without talking about energy, the economy, national security. General, you've noted I've spent some time with you in Africa. I believe this deserves the attention Sen. Kerry is talking about.

Let's go to the developing countries. What should this government be doing to help these countries to move this issue forward? China and India. Again. Sheesh. Every single one. They're going to reach to coal. Where does nuclear fit into this? The next president is going to have to deal with this. I'm sorry Sen. Obama isn't here.

Adm. Truly We need to show leadership here in this country so that others will listen to us. I think the federal government needs to show leadership on this issue. It is not principally a matter of technology. It's as much business practices.

Gen. Wald The US is at a crossroads.

With respect to present national security threats, I would put terrorism at number one, with WMD proliferation. I'd put energy security as the next threat, then climate change. I think we need to maintain a conventional fighting capability, but I don't see that as one of our top five threats.

If we do coal-to-liquids, sequestration definitely has to be part. US should definitely take the lead on clean coal technology. If we did everything, we're still going to have some dependency on conventional oil for a couple of decades. We're still going to be vulnerable to other countries. I think the time for discussion is over.

Prueher: The three things I think are: we need to lead. Leadership that requires us to set an example to lessen our energy dependence and carbon emissions. Our core competency in the US, one of them, is technological excellence. We have the most advanced nuclear capability. We're eight years away from building new nuclear power plants. The third is working with other nations. There are a lot of frameworks; like us, the Chinese don't like to be lectured to. The Chinese have our problems in spades.

11:09 Casey What we should be focused on today is what to do about climate change. We all come at this from different vantage points. One fact popped out to me: since 1970, the percentage of the earth's surface subject to drought has doubled. I recognized that leads to famine, hunger, death.

I'm a proud cosponsor of S. 1018 to make this part of our NIE.

I want to move to a more basic part of our national security about readiness. The question I have to ask, what steps should we take just on the question of readiness?

Prueher The impact on readiness is not a question our panel looked directly at. The impacts of global warming on readiness. When Ivan came through Florida, it put the air station out of business for a year. If we look at long-term readiness in terms of our facilities. Adm. Truly talked about Diego Garcia. It'll render it that much more difficult in logistics if stations are taken out. If we move our trucks to hybrids it'll put an increased strain on our military for a while but it'll be worth to do it.

Casey Is there anything we should do in our budgeting?

Prueher Others may have a better sense, but not to my knowledge.

Wald This is not necessarily a zero-sum game. I don't think the conventional part has gone away. What's happened though is that the spectrum of conflicts have expanded. Our focus has been on high intensity threats. We're going to have to face the fact that we have full-spectrum threats. If you look at the tsunami that occured, the floods in Mozambique, the earthquakes, they all required a military response. If these happen more frequently, the military will be used more frequently. There are some budgetary decisions to be made.

11:19 Corker I asked to serve on the foreign relations committee and the energy subcommittee. This is the kind of hearing that puts and exclamation point on the intertwining.

In this committee in the future I hope we will focus on the shortcomings of the leadership of the civilian government (paraphrase).

The perfect is the enemy of the good. We had a renewable standards bill that came out that cut out clean coal because it still has carbon emissions. But that could be very useful for China.

One of the things I'm having a hard time grasping today. How urgent, how closely into the future are we talking about actually occuring?

Prueher When I said important and not urgent I may have overstepped. One, we're not climate scientists. I don't know how urgent it is. We're dealing with uncertainty. There are trends. There are scientists that talk about tipping points. It may be more urgent than we think. These things happen slowly, so we don't tend to notice them, but the causes are already in place. We don't actually know the speed. Given our experience dealing with uncertainty and a high potential risk, now is the time for action.

Truly I think we're late already. We have an entirely industrial revolution's worth of gases in the atmosphere and some of them stay for centuries. We're continuing to build up risk. All the evidence is that we need to act. What we have recommended is to begin serious planning from a national security perspective from the very top. I hope we're wrong. If the conclusion is that new equipment needs to be developed, new frameworks for international interaction, nobody does it better than the DOD, but they respond to leadership from the top.

The climate isn't going to declare war on the United States, it's not that kind of problem. But it's slowly building stress. It needs to be built into all of the planning in order to institutionalize it.

Wald I'm not a scientist but I like to think that I'm smart enough to understand what people tell me. I have homeowner's insurance even though I think the likelihood of my house burning down is about zero. We can't take the risk. It doesn't have to be extremely costly. I don't think the market will take care of itself. I think the suggestions in the report are things we should do today.

11:30 Murkowski This is not falling on deaf ears. Are we getting to China and India the level of urgency or do they view us as a nation that provides 25% of the emissions, it's fine for the US to say that, you have an economy that is strong and solid, you're telling us to put controls. How far are we in truly being able to engage these other nations?

Prueher Increasingly the Chinese are not monolithic. There are segments that understand the environmental dangers. The whole legitimacy of the Chinese leadership comes from raising their people out of poverty. We don't get a lot of traction talking to China about this issue. We have to set a good example and at a glacial rate move this dialogue forward. It will take time, and because it will, we need to start now.

Wald I have a little trouble with the argument that if they don't do it, why should we. I didn't think Kyoto was a very solid treaty but I still think US should have done something. They want to get 600 million people out of poverty. I think the US regardless of China should take action. I think what Sec. Paulson is doing is one of the most important things for our national security. I think anyone who says China isn't doing anything so we shouldn't is pretty immature and is a loser.

11:35 Murkowski To get from where we are today to where we need to be requires a massive change.  We've got to make that change in attitude. There's nothing short of a phenomenal effort to make that change. I appreciate the time you've spent focusing on that next generation of how we provide security.

Truly It is a massive undertaking. From a security perspective it is important to fold all these technologies into the solution. Coal, nuclear, renewables all have their place. To do nothing is not a moral stance that the United States should continue.

11:38 Biden One of my observations is in order to get the nation to respond, when we talk about it in the grand scheme of things, it seems so big, almost beyond our ability to deal with it. People talk about in the long run, we'll all be dead. I agree with Sen. Lugar we have to do things that have real, observable benefits. If we mandate automobiles have to have flex-fuel capability, it just gives the American public the sense there's something they can do. I'm of the idea that a president has the capability to change the mindset of the country. We're a gigantic consumer. If it's doable in the next couple of years, every government vehicle mandate fuel economy. I think the most valuable part of your testimony, the more examples you can give that are bite-size and concrete of what the possible downsides are the better it will be. Al Gore's film gave specific examples.

We need the press to be communicating this idea. It gives them something to talk about it.

11:44 Lugar I agree this panel has been so important this morning. There are a number of people on this panel running for president.

Reorienting the U.S. Global Change Research Program Toward a User-Driven Research Endeavor

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 03 May 2007 18:00:00 GMT

Reps. Mark Udall (D-CO) and Bob Inglis (R-SC) introduced the Global Change Research and Data Management Act to strengthen and streamline federal climate change research and reorient it for state and local governments, planners and researchers, replacing the U.S. Global Change Research Program established in 1990.

Witnesses

  • Dr. Philip Mote, Climatologist, State of Washington
  • Dr. Michael MacCracken, President, International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences
  • Dr. Jack Fellows, Vice President, UCAR
  • Franklin Nutter, President, Reinsurance Assocation of America
  • Sarah Bittleman
  • Dr. James Mahoney

2:50 Dr. Mote They want to know what the probable changes are in rainfall, snowfall, and streamflow. The Northwest Hydropower Council wanted streamflow estimates. There’s already been an observed shift of two weeks in the start of the snowmelt. A national climate service is needed. To properly construct probabilistic scenarios at the regional level would require using tens of models; it would be too much for a regional center to undertake. Sea-level rise. Monitoring the climate, as HR 906 rightly addresses. The monitoring networks are slowly dwindling. The American Association of State Climatologists calls on Congress to save these networks from decline.

2:55 In recess.

3:20 Ms. Bittleman I work for the governor of Oregon here in Washington DC. The Western Governors Association appreciates the effort to make this bill relevant to the western states. The US has spent considerable dollars on understanding the science of climate change. Now the time has come to fund the study of adaptation. I need to recite some of the very real changes: smaller snowpacks, more extreme floods, more droughts, more wildfire, pests and disease. Congress and the Administration should fund research that makes mitigation and adaptation easier. Some states are creating their own climate change research centers, including Oregon. It is important that the program under HR 906 integrates the state offices and regional centers. We recommend that the bill be amended to establish a national climate information service, as Dr. Mote mentioned. Additionally the NCIS could provide national policy papers.

Decision makers at all levels of government and the private sector need accurate information.

3:27 Udall Are you saying the director of the USGCRP needs direct budget authority?

Fellows I think that the director of USGCRP have some level of budget authority and be close enough to the political center to push changes. When I was at the OMB we had every agency come in and present their programs.

Mahoney I had a hybrid position; I was Senate-confirmed, so I had a political position and access to the top of the OMB and the relevant cabinet officers. I think there should be a definite recognized management and coordination function. The division that generates the reports is greatly underresourced. Some direction by the Congress to see a more effective and efficient process would be a positive step.

3:32 Inglis The bill calls for the program to be updated every four years. Any thoughts?

MacCracken The first was developed in the early 1990s. We shifted in the mid-1990s, though without a formal plan. You do need to take a different perspective. There’s no optimal way to cut this problem into pieces. Requiring something in an update is useful.

Fellows The world climate society takes a look every five years. It would be interesting to look if you staggered the vulnerability and policy assessments, but the four-five year cycle is good.

3:35 Inglis One degree fahrenheit change and we have no more mountain trout.

Bittleman From the state perspective the entire process of data collection and how climate change is being experienced on the ground is what’s important. Every year the states are acting based on the data coming in. When there’s a year date for a report, that’s not as important as the flexibility to include the data, activity that are happening in the states.

3:37 Udall Regional vs. national assessments. How do we ensure the USGCRP meets both needs? I don’t see these things as separate. In Oregon and the Pacific Northwest we would like to gather information on a watershed level. We would like to see all of this information integrated. We see the possibility of integration being the real hope.

Nutter From the insurance perspective, regional assessments are imperative. The effect of climate change on extreme weather events in the Gulf is different from the Midwest or the Northeast.

McCracken We have tried to have sector assessments. If you’re interested in the forests locally, you need a regional perspective. If you’re looking at forest industry, you need national perspective. We also need the international perspective—migratory species, foreign investments, global health, refugees. The IPCC kind of looks at this, but hasn’t really taken a look at individual countries.

Udall Wehn we figure this out as a human race we’ll have created a template to face other challenges we’ll face. That keeps me going.

McCracken Climate change is intimately tied to meeting the Millenium Goals. It is all coupled and has to be looked at this way.

3:43 Nutter Those who look at protecting people’s property and lives. New York State has $2 trillion of insured properties. It’s a remarkable exposure to extreme weather events and climate change. This bill will have a real impact.

MacCracken In the 1990s we didn’t want climate change to be a justification for funding fusion research, for example. One of the things we struggled with in creating a useful assessment was what to focus on. That whole social science part of what has to be in climate change research isn’t well funded.

Mote Another aspect of this separation is that mitigating and adapting sometimes come together. As we design portfolios of alternative energy, are they resilient to climate changes? Such as hydropower. Climate change actually makes our hydropower generation more in line with demand for Washington, but means there will be less spare power for California in the summer.

3:50 Inglis Thank you.

Udall Thank you for appearing. I take the challenge of addressing global warming, as does Rep. Inglis and many other members of the House, very seriously. It’s one of our highest priorities in the Congress. This hearing is now adjourned.

Advanced technology vehicles, focusing on the road ahead

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 01 May 2007 14:00:00 GMT

In today’s hearing in the new Finance Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources, and Infrastructure, we look forward to hearing testimony on advanced technology vehicles. As we discuss energy policy and the most efficient path toward energy security and independence, we naturally turn to the issue of transportation fuels.

Right now, over 50% of the nearly 21 million barrels of oil we use each day in the U.S. is imported. And almost 70% of that oil consumption is used in the transportation sector. In 2007, we expect American to use over 14 millions barrels of oil to drive to work and do their chores, to travel within their communities, and to travel on vacation. We will also use over 4 million barrels of fuel on industrial transportation. Ten million gallons of that fuel will be imported.

These numbers suggest that in order to achieve energy security, we need to reduce our use of imported fuels. We can begin this effort by becoming efficient users of transportation fuels.

In our tax code, we have several incentives aimed at encouraging manufacturers and consumers across many industries to build and purchase more fuel efficient vehicles. We have tax credits for the purchase of vehicles featuring technologies that greatly increase their fuel economies. And we have tax penalties that apply to the purchase of the least fuel efficient vehicles. The tax code also features credits, against income or excise tax, for bio-based fuel blends that displace imported fuels.

And while we pursue energy security, we are always mindful of environmental concerns. Our vehicle tax credits have minimum emissions standards. And our alternative fuels credits are intended to encourage clean burning fuels.

We hope during this hearing to establish a record regarding the response of the market in general, and of vehicle manufacturers in particular, to the current tax incentives for efficient and clean vehicles. And as always, we are interested in hearing testimony on new incentives that might be more effective in helping us achieve our energy policy goals with respect to transportation fuel usage.

In particular, we sought testimony from:
  • Manufacturers who employ cutting edge power storage technologies;
  • Manufacturers who are active in the traditional and diesel markets;
  • Producers of alternative transportation fuel who can speak to fueling station needs, and
  • Scholars from the automotive industry who have long studied the response of the industry to Federal energy policies.
Witnesses

Establishing the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E)

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 26 Apr 2007 18:00:00 GMT

Committee page.

H.R. 364 establishes an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) within the U.S. Department of Energy, similar to the successful DARPA program within the Department of Defense. With a lean and agile organization ARPA-E will assemble cross-disciplinary research teams focused on addressing the nation’s most urgent energy needs through high-risk research and the rapid development of transformational clean energy technologies. By leveraging talent in all sectors – from private industry, to universities, to government labs – ARPA-E will foster a robust and cohesive community of energy researchers and technology developers in the U.S. This bill follows on the direct recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences’ report “Rising Above the Gathering Storm.”

Witnesses
  • Dr. Stephen R. Forrest
  • Mr. John Denniston
  • Mr. William B. Bonvillian
  • Dr. Richard Van Atta

Coal, focusing on a clean future

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

Opening statement from Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.): In today’s hearing in the new Finance Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources, and Infrastructure, we look forward to hearing testimony on advanced coal technologies. As we discuss energy policy and how to best use coal, a natural resource that we have in abundance, to enhance our energy security, it is important that we learn more about the feasibility of various advanced clean coal technologies that feature clean emissions and allow carbon sequestration and storage.

In our current tax code, we have several tax incentives for these technologies, including investment tax credits for investments in advanced coal technologies and accelerated depreciation to address the capital costs involved in these technologies. We hope during this hearing to collect testimony regarding the response of the market in general, and of coal producers and utilities in particular, to these incentives. We are also interested in hearing your views on new incentives that might be more effective in helping us achieve our energy policy goals. In particular, we sought testimony from experts on:
  • Clean coal and gasification projects, including the newly announced Wyoming Coal Gasification Project, a private-public partnership formed to develop an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plant.
  • Coal to liquids, the process of making liquid fuels from coal
  • Refined coal production tax credits
  • The costs of establishing new facilities as well as retrofitting existing coal-fired power plants.

We also look forward to hearing these experts’ views on the feasibility and future of carbon capture and sequestration as well as the market for sequestered carbon. Sequestered carbon can be used in many useful technologies, including enhanced oil recovery. A primary focus of energy policy discussions is the abundance of coal in the U.S. This hearing represents our first examination of the possibilities of that endowment.

Witnesses
  • Steve Waddington, Executive Director, Wyoming Infrastructure Authority
  • Dr. Nina French, ADA-ES, Director, Clean Coal Combustion
  • John Diesch, President, Rentech Energy Midwest Corporation
  • Dr. Brian McPherson, Research Scientist, Petroleum Recovery Research Center, NM Tech and Manager, Carbon Engineering Group Energy and Geoscience Institute, University of Utah
  • Bill Townsend, CEO, Blue Source

Global Warming

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 26 Apr 2007 13:30:00 GMT

National Security Implications of Climate Change

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 24 Apr 2007 14:00:00 GMT

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