Abramoff and Global Warming

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 16 Jul 2007 22:33:00 GMT

R. Jared Carpenter, vice president of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, a right-wing environmental non-profit founded by Gale Norton and Grover Norquist, pleaded guilty last week to tax evasion. Carpenter didn’t just take money from Jack Abramoff’s tribes and spend it for himself without paying taxes; he also worked on such environmental issues as climate change, participating in the US Climate Change Science Program workshop that produced the program’s 2003 strategic plan report.

Solar Energy Research

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 16 Jul 2007 12:29:00 GMT

In today’s New York Times, Andrew Revkin and Matthew Wald report on the state of solar energy in the United States and the world. The short version of their article is that the minimal research dollars seem to guarantee that the current projections of very small increases in the deployment of solar energy will come true. The article is accompanied by two infographics that use figures from the Energy Information Administration and the International Energy Agency. The figures show that the lion’s share of international R&D dollars go to nuclear fission research and that the EIA projects US electricity production, already dominated by coal, to be overwhelmingly produced by coal-fired plants in the following decades.

You can view them after the break.

Air Force, Murtha, Rahall Supporting Coal-to-Liquids

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 13 Jul 2007 15:08:00 GMT

CQ reports that Air Force Undersecretary Ronald M. Sega plans to deliver the keynote address to a Coal-to-Liquids Coalition conference August 15 in West Virginia. Other speakers include John P. Murtha, D-Pa., House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee chairman, and Natural Resources Chairman Nick J. Rahall II, D-W.Va.

Pelosi vs. Dingell on CAFE

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 13 Jul 2007 14:57:00 GMT

The Washington Post reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is in talks with House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Dingell (Mich.) on how to introduce the CAFE standards legislation that passed the Senate last month. Also of interest from the article, discussing the overall House energy legislation:
Lobbyists are still working to alter key parts of the legislation as it moves to the House floor and later to conference committee with the Senate. The American Petroleum Institute has been lobbying to limit the impact of tax measures that would effectively boost oil companies’ corporate income tax rate and increase royalty payments. Coal and nuclear advocates are pushing for additional loan guarantees and tax breaks. Beef and poultry producers that use corn feed hope to dilute incentives for corn-based ethanol.

The Kyoto Protocol: An Update

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 11 Jul 2007 18:00:00 GMT

Panel I
  • Harlan Watson – special representative and senior climate negotiator, Bureau of Oceans and International Environment and Scientific Affairs, State Department Panel II
  • Elliot Diringer – director of international strategies, Pew Center on Global Climate Change
  • Margo Thorning – managing director, International Council for Capital Formation

Dr. Watson and the subcommittee chair Faleomavaega had a long discussion. Dr. Watson defended the administration’s largely voluntary approach. Rohrabacher repeated his complaints that CO2 is not dangerous to human health and that the focus on climate change is taking resources away from fighting pollution.

4:24 PM Diringer The US-CAP platform. The Bali conference will be the stage for new negotiations on 2012 commitments. Kyoto was a major milestone, but just one stage. We have no expectation the US will ever ratify it.

4:34 PM Thorning Cap and trade is bad.

4:41 PM Manzullo R-IL We’re seeing the problems with cap and trade already. One of the manufacturers in Spain is being displaced by a factory in Morocco which is not covered by the system. People not covered by it would be the beneficiaries.

Diringer The type of effect doesn’t seem to be a function of cap-and-trade, but is related to any regulatory control. That’s what the importance of international agreements.

Manzullo How do you make the effort?

Diringer You start by being serious.

Manzullo We’re down to 3% in the export of machine tools. Setting the right example. I don’t think that works.

Manzullo The nations that buy things go with a more reliable supplier. It’s ITAR free. Using the white-hat techniques slams in our face.

Thorning Global energy prices are not likely to fall in the foreseeable future.

Manzullo What can you offer China and Morocco, countries that don’t respect the environment?

Thorning Let’s say we have a coal-fired boiler that 35% efficient. If China wants that, if we knew they’d protect our intellectual property, we’d be more likely to sell them the boiler.

Diringer We have various means of export support and promotion and we can make that assistance conditional.

4:48 PM Rohrabacher The air in China is murdering children. That has nothing to do with climate change. If all of the goals of the Kyoto Protocol are met, would that reverse the climate change trend that are so alarming people?

Thorning It would have virtually no impact on changing the climate.

Diringer Noone contends the Kyoto standards are sufficient.

Rohrabacher Why should we join the Kyoto protocol then?

Diringer I’m not aware of anyone advocating joining the Kyoto protocol. China’s implementing many environmental standards that have climate emissions benefits, but are based on national drivers. It’s important that we understand those motivations. The steps we would take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will also reduce the production of conventional air pollutants. There is common ground.

Rohrabacher I think there is room for common ground. There are choices that people make as to whether or not there will be reductions in NOX, which I understand is harmful to human health. Some scientists claim more CO2 will produce more plant growth and make people’s lives better. I would like to put on the record an article by James Taylor at the Heartlands Institute.

What is your view on using nuclear energy?

D: Nuclear energy is a major component of our electricity production. We expect it to remain a major part of our production mix.

Rohrabacher Might I suggest that you personally look at the high-pressure gas reactor? The traditional objections of environmentalists don’t apply. It actually eats plutonium. The last thing we want to do is to promote technologies to clean the air but help people drop bombs on us. There are some alternatives.

4:57 Faleomavaega What about poor countries?

Thorning Energy is an essential to reducing poverty. I think it’s important how we balance society’s resources. I want to see more resources going to provide energy that developing countries need. For about $18 billion a year we could provide LPG stoves to millions of people.

Our tax code has slowed depreciation. We have about the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world. I hope we’ll look at the rate of capital cost recovery.

5:04 Diringer The UN convention establishes the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. There’s an understanding that one size does not fit all. We would favor a flexible framework.

I think the US is the single most influential force globally on tackling this issue. The EU has pledged unilaterally to reduce emissions. A very positive indication from the United States is necessary.

Thorning One of the things we need to keep our eye on is that the EU is not likely to meet their targets. What I see happening is lip service. I see the EU as not successful as it’s currently set up. Perhaps sectoral targets without necessarily having mandatory requirements. I think we can induce China, like the Marshall Plan.

5:09 Diringer I think it’s premature to conclude that the EU will not meet its Kyoto target. The EEA estimates it will achieve its targets. It won’t meet it entirely with domestic reductions, but also by relying on the flexibility mechanisms built into the Kyoto Protocol. The emissions trading scheme is only one of the mechanisms the EU is using, and it is in the learning phase. The biggest problem in the trial run was an over-allocation of emissions allowances.

5:13 Faleomavaega What do you expect will happen at Bali?

Thorning I think the US will push the Asia-Pacific Partnership mechanisms, which I think is the right way to go.

5:16 Rohrabacher Scripps has a beautiful climate change institute worth millions of dollars. Scientists on the dole. When that money should have been on the children of China who are going to have emphysema by the time they’re 30 years old by breathing in that rotten air. It’s like a huge black hole. If scientists say there will be more wildfires in California, that’s probably a $2 million research grant sucked away. I know people in California if they got those $2 million would dramatically impact air quality. There are 100s, thousands of these scientists taking this money. People say “Well, the issue is closed” swaying and wagging his arms. They’re ignoring the critics the scientists. $37 billion is a huge amount of money. It seems that the poltics of this thing has invaded the scientific community. With that said, I am hopeful. I do believe in science. I do believe in human progress. Perhaps we can come up with technologies that can clean the air, even though I think the scare tactics are not justified.

National Renewable Portfolio Standard

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 11 Jul 2007 17:30:00 GMT

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) invites you to learn about national renewable electricity portfolio standards such as those that have been introduced in the Senate and are likely to be introduced in the House as part of the climate change legislative package Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) has called for this Fall. A Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is a market-based mechanism that requires utilities to gradually increase the portion of electricity produced from renewable resources such as wind, biomass, geothermal, solar energy, incremental hydropower and marine energy. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have RPSs, covering 40 percent of the nation’s electrical load. A national RPS has passed the Senate in the last three Congresses, although it is not included in the recent Senate energy bill.

A recent analysis by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) of a national RPS proposed by Senate Energy Committee Chair Bingaman (D-NM) requiring electric utilities to acquire 15 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020, found net consumer cost to increase just 0.3 percent through 2030 compared to the reference case. In April, the National Commission on Energy Policy (NCEP), which in 2004 published recommendations including a national greenhouse gas “cap-and-trade” program, added a recommendation for a 15 percent RPS to its set of national energy policy recommendations. In June, “Renewing America,” a study by the Network for New Energy Choices, found that a 20 percent by 2020 national RPS could reduce as much carbon dioxide as taking 71 million cars off the nation’s roads and would decrease consumer energy bills by an average of 1.5 percent per year. An article in the May issue of Electricity Journal by Professor Marilyn Brown et al. discusses the value of including energy efficiency along with renewable energy in a national portfolio standard. Our panel includes:

· Leon Lowery, Majority Staff, Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

· Chris Namovicz, Operations Research Analyst, Energy Information Administration

· Marilyn Brown, Professor of Energy Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology and Visiting Distinguished Scientist, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

· Richard Glick, Director, Government Affairs, PPM Energy

On February 8, Reps. Tom Udall (D-NM), Todd Platts (R-PA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and Mark Udall (D-CO) along with four others introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R. 969) to establish a federal RPS requiring electric utilities to acquire 20 percent of their electricity from wind, solar and other renewable energy sources by 2020. “As Congress addresses the many important energy issues facing our country, we must consider the benefits of renewable energy. Establishing a federal renewable portfolio standard will balance a wide range of interests,” Rep. Tom Udall said. “Not only will it help us meet our growing demand for electricity, it will also reduce our exposure to fossil fuel price spikes and supply interruptions, increase economic development in the renewable energy industry, and improve our environment.” H.R. 969 now has 121 cosponsors. On June 28, Rep. DeGette (D-CO) introduced and withdrew a federal RPS amendment (based on H.R. 969) in the Committee on Energy and Commerce markup of Committee prints on energy policy legislation.

This briefing is open to the public and no reservations are required.

For more information, contact Fred Beck at 202-662-1892 ([email protected])

Energy Bill Checklist

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 18 Jun 2007 13:23:00 GMT

Crossposted at Daily Kos.

Last week I diaried on the key battles in the Senate energy bill, the Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection, and Energy Efficiency Act of 2007 (SA 1502):

  • No on Coal-to-Liquid
  • No on restricting EPA or state regulation of motor vehicle emissions of greenhouse gases
  • No on diluting definition of biofuels
  • No on changing “renewable” to “alternative” in legislation
  • No on offshore drilling
  • Yes on strong CAFE standards (no on weakening further)
  • Yes on price-gouging regulation (the right-wingers are fighting this hard)
  • Yes on national Renewable Portfolio Standard of 15% by 2015, 20% by 2020 (if we’re lucky, we’ll get legislation for 15% by 2020)
  • Yes on incentives for distributed generation (aka cogeneration, net metering, electranet) at the commercial and residential level
  • Yes on support for energy efficiency, especially
  • Yes on funding of The Weatherization Assistance Program
  • Yes on funding renewable energy by removing some oil subsidies

So what were the results?

Here are the issues:

No on Coal-to-Liquid (Tester amdt. S.AMDT.1614 rejected 33-61, Bunning amdt. S.AMDT 1628 rejected 39-55)
No on restricting EPA or state regulation of motor vehicle emissions of greenhouse gases
No on diluting definition of biofuels (Kyl amdt. S.AMDT.1800 rejected 45-49)
No on changing “renewable” to “alternative” in legislation
No on offshore drilling
Yes on strong CAFE standards (no on weakening further) (Pryor-Bond-Levin-Stabenow amdt. S.AMDT. 1711 not considered)
Yes on price-gouging regulation (the right-wingers are fighting this hard) (Title VI of S.AMDT.1502)
Yes on national Renewable Portfolio Standard of 15% by 2015, 20% by 2020 (Bingaman amdt. S.AMDT.1537 withdrawn under filibuster threat)
Yes on incentives for distributed generation (aka cogeneration, net metering, electranet) at the commercial and residential level (issue held for next round of energy legislation)
Yes on major increase in funding of The Weatherization Assistance Program (which Bush is trying to slash) (Title II, Subtitle F of S.AMDT.1502)
Yes on funding renewable energy by removing some subsidies to oil industry (Baucus amdt. S.AMDT.1704 filibustered 57-36)
The caveats to the table above include:
  • while the CAFE standards are being increased, they are certainly not aggressive increases. Still, a lot better than the zero action the Bush administration and auto industry wanted.
  • the increase to the Weatherization Assistance program is about 7%, instead of the 25% increase which would have had optimal results. Still, a lot better than the zeroing out that Bush wanted.

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).


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.

  • 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

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.

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