Movement on Energy Bill Compromise 4

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 27 Nov 2007 22:21:00 GMT

According to a report in the National Journal’s subscription-only Congress Daily, Congress is nearing a compromise to resolve the differences between the Senate (HR 6) and House (HR 3221) versions of the comprehensive energy package. Major sticking points have been CAFE standards, renewable fuels mandate, a federal renewable energy standard, and renewable energy tax incentives (the renewable production tax credit (PTC)).

Speaker Pelosi indicated the sense of progress in a press release Monday:
Congress is now moving forward with historic energy legislation that will reduce our dependence on foreign fuels and promote energy efficiency. We have made significant progress toward completing this package and hope to have a final agreement next week.

The draft compromise, according to Congress Daily and Hill Heat sources, incorporates suggestions from Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.)’s November 13 letter to Speaker Pelosi.

CAFE
  • By 2020, 35 mpg average standard for cars, light trucks and SUVs (in line with HR 6)
  • Separate fuel-economy standards for cars and trucks
  • Distinctions between domestic and foreign-made vehicles in standards
Renewable Fuels Mandate
  • By 2015, required production of 20.5 billion gallons of renewable fuels, with as much as 15 billion gallons coming from corn-based ethanol (HR 6 had 36 billion by 2022)
  • By 2015, required production of 5.5 billion gallons of advanced biofuels—fuel not derived from sugar or starch and that can cut lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions in half
  • National Academy of Sciences study within 18 months of mandate impact, followed by periodic reviews authorized by the Clean Air Act of technologies and the feasibility of complying with the mandate
PTC
  • According to Hill Heat sources, the extension of the PTC is likely, though perhaps for as little as one year.
Deal Near On Fuel Efficiency, Renewables In Energy Bill

Negotiators have proposed scaling down a Senate renewable fuels mandate and are nearing a deal on raising fuel efficiency standards, sources said today. Under the deal being discussed, refiners would be required to produce 20.5 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2015, with as much as 15 billion gallons coming from corn-based ethanol, according to draft House language. The Senate-passed version would have required the production of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022. The draft would mandate that 5.5 billion gallons of advanced biofuels – fuel not derived from sugar or starch and that can cut lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions in half – must be produced by 2015. The draft plan might trigger limits starting in 2016 to further increases in renewable fuels production based on the impact renewable fuels production has on the environment, energy security, consumer prices and other factors. Critics – including refiners, livestock groups and grocery manufacturers – say the draft sets unreasonable production mandates. “We don’t think that the volumes that are called for in this draft have any basis in reality,” said an oil refinery lobbyist. It would require a National Academy of Sciences study within 18 months on the impact of the renewable fuels mandate followed by periodic reviews authorized by the Clean Air Act of technologies and the feasibility of complying with the mandate.

Negotiators are also close to a bipartisan deal raising the average standard for cars, light trucks and SUVs from 25 miles per gallon to 35 mpg by 2020, according to lobbyists following the talks. This would echo the Senate-approved plan. In a nod to automakers, the deal would adopt separate fuel-economy standards for cars and trucks and try to preserve domestic production of fuel-efficient cars, lobbyists said. This would be in line with a letter House Energy and Commerce Chairman Dingell sent Speaker Pelosi this month indicating his willingness to accept fuel efficiency that uses the Senate plan as its base while incorporating changes sought by automakers. Congressional aides say negotiations continue. Lawmakers might take up an energy bill as early as next week. Pelosi issued a statement Monday indicating that lawmakers have made “significant progress toward completing the package and hope to have a final agreement next week.” Aides have an internal deadline of Wednesday evening to finish an energy bill so it can be officially drafted and reviewed by lawmakers, lobbyists said. —by Darren Goode

Major Court Ruling Against NHTSA on SUV CAFE Standards 9

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 20 Nov 2007 19:39:00 GMT

Last week the 9th Court of Appeals issued a 90-page decision in Center for Biological Diversity v. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration/California v. NHTSA in favor of the plaintiffs. The suit was brought against NHTSA’s corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for light trucks – i.e., SUVs – issued in April 2006, in part for NHTSA claiming that the value of reduced greenhouse gases would be zero. NRDC, ED, Sierra Club, Public Citizen, and 11 states and the District of the Columbia joined as plaintiffs.

The NHTSA is tasked by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) to set CAFE standards. Its April 2006 ruling raised the light truck standard from 22 to 23.5 miles per gallon by 2010.

The court agreed with the states that NHTSA must take into account greenhouse gases, as required by the National Environment Protection Act (NEPA) following the Massachusetts v EPA Supreme Court decision: “There is no evidence to support NHTSA’s conclusion that the apppropriate course was not to monetize or quantify the value of carbon emissions reduction at all.”

In addition to agreeing that the agency conducted an inadequate environmental assessment under NEPA, the court found that NHTSA’s regulations violated EPCA in four key areas, including the “SUV loophole” (“failure to revise the passenger automobile/light truck classifications”):
NHTSA’s failure to monetize the value of carbon emissions in its determination of the MY 2008-2011 light truck CAFE standards, failure to set a backstop, failure to revise the passenger automobile/light truck classifications, and failure to set fuel economy standards for all vehicles in the 8,500 to 10,000 lb. GWR class, was arbitrary and capricious and contrary to the EPCA. We therefore remand to NHTSA to promulgate new standards consistent with this opinion as expeditiously as possible and for the earliest model year practicable.
Warming Law’s comprehensive coverage:

Youth and Climate Change 4

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 05 Nov 2007 14:30:00 GMT

On Monday thousands of young energy and climate leaders will descend on Capitol Hill to send a message to Congress: we must pass the energy bill before Congress (HR 3221) so we can begin the transition towards a cleaner, safer, more prosperous future without oil dependence or global warming.

The day of events starts with several of these leaders appearing before Chairman Edward J. Markey and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. Chairman Markey and those testifying will then travel to the West Lawn of the Capitol to meet thousands of supporters who will call for more green jobs, more renewable energy, and higher fuel economy standards, among other clean energy measures.

Congress is currently considering energy legislation that would raise fuel economy standards for America’s vehicles to 35 miles per gallon by 2020, increase the use of renewable energy, and create millions of new “green collar” jobs.

Witnesses
  • Billy Parish, Energy Action Coalition
  • Brittany R. Cochran, Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative
  • Cheryl Lockwood, Alaska Youth for Environmental Action
  • Katelyn McCormick, Students Promoting Environmental Students
  • Mike Reagan, California PIRG

Congress Nears Conference on Energy Bill 8

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 22 Oct 2007 22:12:00 GMT

From CQ:

After negotiations with key Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Friday he was prepared to seek a conference with the House on energy policy legislation.

“The Speaker wants to go to conference. I want to go to conference,” Reid, D-Nev., said on the floor Friday. “We know we can’t do a bill unless we include the Republicans in it.”

The unanimous consent to move to conference was blocked on a procedural basis by John Cornyn, R-Texas, Friday afternoon because many senators were traveling, but no objections were expected this week.

That said, the battle over CAFE standards remains strong, with the auto industry lobbying hard for the weaker Hill-Terry language (HR 2927). Last week GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner met with Al Hubbard, director of the National Economic Council, Nicole Nason, the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and EPA officials, and Ford CEO Alan Mulally is expected in DC this week.

Meanwhile, the natural gas industry is calling for expanded drilling:
The American Petroleum Institute, Independent Petroleum Association of America, and seven other trade associations representing natural gas producers, pipelines, and consumers jointly expressed strong concern Oct. 19 about US House energy legislation that they believe would reduce instead of increase domestic gas supplies. . . . The 2005 Energy Policy Act contains several provisions to encourage production in frontier areas, including ultradeep water, ultradeep gas, and offshore Alaska, which HR 3221 seeks to repeal, they said.

Markey Calls Out Toyota On "Impossible" CAFE Standards 6

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 04 Oct 2007 19:59:00 GMT

Toyota is now responding to NRDC’s challenge to drop its opposition to the Markey-Platts CAFE standard increase (since echoed by UCS and Ed Markey, and written up by Tom Friedman):
There are various bills before Congress that would mandate a new target of 35 mpg by 2020 and require both cars and trucks to meet that standard. Our engineers tell us the requirements specified by these proposed measures are beyond what is possible. Toyota spends $23 million every day on research and development but, at this point, the technology to meet such stringent standards by 2020 does not exist.

Toyota has long supported an increase in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. Moreover, Toyota has always exceeded federal fuel economy requirements. We are continuously striving to improve our fuel economy, regardless of federal mandates.

Toyota currently supports a proposal known as the Hill-Terry bill, HR 2927, that would set a new standard of up to 35 mpg by 2022 (up to a 40% increase) and maintain separate categories for cars and light trucks. Although this won’t be easy, we believe it is achievable.

House Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee chairman Ed Markey responds: “Apparently the only thing that separates Toyota from the ‘impossible dream’ of 35 miles per gallon here in the U.S., is a flight across the Pacific Ocean,” as Toyota meets Japan’s (and Europe’s) fuel efficiency standards of greater than 40 MPG, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation.

Toyota "Dear Colleague" Letter about NRDC Campaign 4

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 03 Oct 2007 17:16:00 GMT

Forwarded to Hill Heat (as always, I’m reachable at cunctator@hillheat.com):
A Message from Irv Miller

Dear Associate:

Toyota is currently the target of a campaign by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) that accuses us of opposing increases in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for cars and light trucks. The assertion by this group that we are actively lobbying against increased fuel economy standards is just flat wrong, and we want you to be aware of the company’s position on this important issue and the facts.

FACT: Toyota has long supported an increase in the CAFE standards. Moreover, Toyota has always exceeded federal fuel economy requirements. We’ve never waited for federal mandates. Under the current CAFE standard, an automaker’s average miles per gallon for cars must exceed 27.5 and light trucks must exceed 20.7. Trucks weighing less than 8500 lbs. must average 22.5 mpg for model year 2008, 23.1 mpg in 2009 and 23.5 mpg in 2010.

FACT: There are various bills before Congress that would mandate a new target of 35 mpg by 2020 and require both cars and trucks to meet that standard. Our engineers tell us the requirements specified by these proposed measures are beyond what is possible. Toyota spends $23 million every day on R&D but, at this point, the technology to meet such stringent standards by 2020 does not exist.

FACT: Toyota supports a proposal known as the Hill-Terry bill, HR 2927, that would set a new standard of from 32 to 35 mpg by 2022 (up to a 40% increase) and maintain separate categories for cars and light trucks. That won’t be easy, but we believe it is achievable.

To help set the record straight, I have posted a message on this topic on the company’s blog. To learn more, visit the blog by clicking here—> http://blog.toyota.com/2007/09/irvs-sheet-a-ca.html

Toyota vs. NRDC and Markey on CAFE Standards 12

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 03 Oct 2007 16:39:00 GMT

Toyota, maker of the 46 MPG Prius*, is lobbying against the Markey-Platts fuel-economy bill (HR 1506), which calls for 35 MPG by 2020, and for the significantly more industry-friendly Hill-Terry (HR 2927) as part of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. (An AAM rep has even commented on this site).

NRDC is challenging Toyota on its blog and with its How Green is Toyota? campaign, which asks people to email the Toyota North America president and stop opposing Markey-Platts.

Irv Miller, Toyota North America’s VP of corporate communications, promoted Hill-Terry on the Toyota blog in July and fired back at NRDC in September.

Today, from Thomas Friedman in the New York Times:
Representative Edward Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat who heads the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, said to me that Toyota could meet a 35 m.p.g. standard in Japan and Europe today, “but here — even though they bombard Americans with ads about how energy efficient Toyota is — they are fighting the 35 m.p.g. standard for 2020.”

Mr. Markey said he has tried to persuade Toyota that “a lot of people have bought Priuses or Camry hybrids to fight global warming and reduce our dependence on foreign oil” and “they would be shocked to find out” that Toyota is lobbying against the highest m.p.g. standards for America.

  • The 55 MPG figure was based on the old mileage test. Average real world mileage is 46.8 MPG.

See the blogswarm in action at Hybrid Cars Blog, Green Car Congress, EcoGeek.

Amendments to House Energy Bill Announced: RES, No CAFE 2

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 02 Aug 2007 20:47:00 GMT

The proposed amendments to HR 3221 have been submitted and are available for review, as are those for HR 2776.

Of significance for HR 3221:
  • Both major CAFE standards bills, Markey-Platts, and Hill-Terry, were withdrawn. Barton’s CAFE bill is still on the slate as Amendment #62
  • Udall-Platts (HR 969), the Renewable Energy Standard, is on the slate as Amendment #96 and probably has enough votes for passage
  • Herseth Sandlin submitted Amendment #81 to change the Renewable Fuels Standard program to require the production of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022
  • Boustany’s Amendment #9 makes the Secretary of Energy a statutory member of the National Security Council
  • Shay’s Amendment #105 doubles the funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program
HR 2776:
  • McCrery submitted the Republican substitute for the tax package as Amendment #7

What's Missing from the House Energy Bill; Dingell on Carbon Tax

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 02 Aug 2007 14:10:00 GMT

The New York Times has an editorial on the energy bill to be debated this week (HR 3221): An Incomplete Energy Bill.

The House will begin debating Friday on a generally useful energy bill that would increase energy efficiency, encourage more responsible oil and gas development on public lands and stimulate investment in cleaner fuels. Yet the bill is incomplete. If it truly hopes to address the problems of global warming and energy independence, three vital issues need to be addressed.
The three missing components:
  • CAFE Standard (Markey-Platts, HR 1506)
  • Renewable Energy Standard (Udall, HR 969)
  • Low-Carbon Fuel Standard

This is also the Union of Concerned Scientists platform.

Rep. Dingell, meanwhile, wrote an op-end on the carbon tax: The Power in the Carbon Tax. It’s a critical insight into the thinking of perhaps the most influential person in Congress in shaping global warming policy.

I apparently created a mini-storm last month when I observed publicly for at least the sixth time since February that some form of carbon emissions fee or tax (including a gasoline tax) would be the most effective way to curb carbon emissions and make alternatives economically viable. I said, as I have on many occasions, that we would have to go to some kind of cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions.

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)

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