The Hill: Oil industry lobbyists in fits

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 24 Jul 2007 01:28:00 GMT

From The Hill: Lobbyists face energy bill dilemma. In short, oil and gas lobbyists, long in the GOP camp, are struggling to kill Titles 1 and 2 of Nick Rahall’s bill (H.R. 2337), which repeal the massive tax breaks for oil companies in the Republican Energy Policy Act of 2005. Their best friends on the Democratic side are Blue Dogs Charles Melancon of Louisiana and Jim Matheson of Utah. Also in question is whether there will end up being time for a vote on the legislation, with the farm bill (with which agribusiness is happy enough), commerce, justice and science (CJS) appropriations, transportation appropriations, and children’s health insurance also on the docket before the August recess.

By Jim Snyder July 24, 2007 One of the toughest decisions a lobbyist makes is when exactly to lobby against something. Do you try to stop a bill in committee, marshal opposition on the floor, or wait for the relative secrecy of a congressional conference committee to let loose the arrows in your quiver?

It may be easier to stop an offending provision before the Government Printing Office ink is dry. But sometimes it’s better to allow an opponent an early win, especially if one of your opponents is the Speaker of the House, before a final defeat.

Oil and gas lobbyists, playing defense all session, are weighing how hard to push their backers on Capitol Hill to draw a line in the sand on energy legislation.

On the floor, House members this week take up two major spending bills— transportation and commerce, justice, and science (CJS)— as well as a farm bill that, in contrast to the energy bill, has broad support among industry lobbyists. The Senate takes up a higher education reauthorization bill.

Pelosi’s Leadership
But behind the scenes, lobbyists describe a furious effort under way to shape energy legislation in the final stretch before August recess.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last week met with “oil patch” members, often the most conservative elements of her diverse caucus, to try to smooth over intra-party differences that are delaying one of the party’s biggest priorities.

Pelosi urged the members to try to work with Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, to find compromise on his energy bill, one of several measures likely to be linked together on the floor.

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.

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.

Farm Bill Markup

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 19 Jul 2007 15:53:00 GMT

Coverage of the farm bill (HR 2419) markup sessions (day one, two, and three) from around the Web: AP: Some Farmers Would Lose Subsidies Under Farm Bill:
The House Agriculture Committee voted Wednesday to ban federal subsidies to farmers with incomes averaging more than $1 million a year and stop farmers from collecting payments for multiple farm businesses.

Only farmers whose incomes exceed $2.5 million a year are now disqualified from such aid.

CQ: Pelosi Eyes Pre-Recess Vote on Farm Bill
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has been taking a hard look at moving the farm bill through the House in a make-or-break week just before August recess. But given the competing priorities, there are no guarantees.
CQ: Labeling Fight Put Off As Farm Bill Markup Proceeds
Food labeling advocates and meat packers have been given a week to strike a deal on mandatory country-of-origin labeling, temporarily averting what was expected to be a heated debate over the hot-button issue.

More coverage at the individual hearing pages (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday).

Live-blogging debate on earmarks

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 17 Jul 2007 16:31:00 GMT

I’m updating the entry on the energy and water earmarks debate as events progress, and updating that entry with more information about the earmarks as I pore over the document.

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.

Climate Change Bills Comparison 4

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 13 Jul 2007 16:51:00 GMT

Resources From the Future has posted a comparison of the climate change bills introduced in the 100th Congress, including
  • Bingaman-Specter’s Low Carbon Economy Act (S. 1766)
  • Udall-Petri discussion draft
  • Lieberman-McCain Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act (S. 280)
  • Kerry-Snow Global Warming Reduction Act (S. 485)
  • Waxman Safe Climate Act (HR 1590)
  • Sanders-Boxer Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act (S. 309)
  • Feinstein-Carper Electric Utility Cap and Trade Act (S. 317), electric utility cap-and-trade
  • Alexander-Lieberman Clean Air/Climate Change Act (S. 1168), electric utility cap-and-trade
  • Stark Save Our Climate Act (HR 2069), a carbon tax bill

This chart (pdf) compares the cap-and-trade mechanisms, and This graph (pdf) compares the emission reduction goals of the bills. View the graph below the fold.

Bingaman-Specter Low Carbon Economy Act

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 13 Jul 2007 15:53:00 GMT

On Wednesday, Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) introduced the text of the “Low Carbon Economy Act” (S 1766), an industry-friendly cap-and-trade bill.

The targets are 2006 levels of emissions by 2020, 1990 levels by 2030. No targets are set before 2020.

Price of CO2 is not set by market, but by the legislation at $12 a ton, rising each year at 5% above inflation. This decouples the price of CO2 from the target reductions, a central component of most cap-and-trade systems.

Allowances are intially given away to the private sector, the bonanza being reduced after five years. Allowances will also be given away for fuel converted to feedstock and for fuel or other GHG precursors (e.g. HFCs) exported from the United States (Section 301).

Sectors covered are limited to petroleum and natural gas plants and importers, and large coal-consuming (>5000 Ton/yr) facilities.

The bill was written by the National Commission on Energy Policy (a project of the The Bipartisan Policy Center, supported primarily by the Hewlett Foundation) and supported by coal-intensive and nuclear industry players including American Electric Power, Duke Energy Corp., Edison International, Exelon Corp., PNM Resources, PPL Corp. and NRG Energy Inc.

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.

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