Boucher Says Bush Open to Coal-Friendly Cap-and-Trade Legislation 2

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 08 Nov 2007 21:32:00 GMT

From E&E News (subs. req.): Boucher told a business forum that he has been in talks with the Bush’s environmental advisors, including Jim Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, about crafting cap-and-trade legislation Bush would sign.

According to the E&E report, Boucher did not think that having a bill that largely preempted state efforts would be problematic. He went on to say that there need to be more protections for the coal industry, and a minimal cap on emissions for the next twenty years.

Boucher said any measure that forces coal-fired power plants to curb emissions too fast – before carbon capture and sequestration can be widely deployed – would cause major shifts to natural gas and drive up prices.

Boucher said the upcoming climate bill will provide a “somewhat forgiving, a gentle introduction to controls” until carbon capture and storage is ready, which he said would be around 2025. Before that, he said, coal-fired utilities will need other options available to meet obligations, such as purchase of offsets.

“The schedule prior to 2025 has got to be more forgiving,” he told reporters. “The schedule after 2025 can be very rigorous.”

Boucher said Senate proposals would impose major limits too fast. “I don’t think the Senate bills adequately address that need because the control schedule is quite severe in the early years, before we have carbon capture and storage available,” he said. “If they default to natural gas, real harm to the economy occurs.”

CLIMATE: Boucher says White House open to mandatory controls (11/08/2007) Ben Geman, Greenwire senior reporter

A House Democrat writing legislation to require greenhouse gas limits said today that White House officials have privately indicated that President Bush might sign such a bill, despite the administration’s public stance against mandatory controls.

Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) told a business forum that White House officials have not put up a “red light.”

But he outlined several big “ifs.”

“If a bill is presented to the White House that has a bipartisan foundation, if it is industry supported, if it is structured in such a way that it will not cause economic dislocation and that is digestible by the economy, that legislation will be welcomed, it would receive serious consideration and potentially be signed into law,” Boucher said at a climate change forum hosted by the Business Roundtable.

He later told reporters he has been speaking about climate legislation with Bush’s principal climate advisers, including Jim Connaughton, chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality.

CEQ declined to respond directly to Boucher’s comment. “The president has made clear which policies he supports to combat climate change, and he is still waiting on Congress to pass his ‘20 in 10’ legislation,” the agency said in a statement. “We will take a look at all proposals and make our views known as they work their way through the legislative process. We aren’t going to speculate about anything that hasn’t been introduced yet.”

“20 in 10” refers to a White House initiative to curb gasoline use by 20 percent in 10 years through increased use of alternative fuels and greater auto efficiency.

Boucher chairs the Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee. He and Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the full Energy and Commerce Committee, are planning a cap-and-trade system to control carbon dioxide and other gases that are contributing to global warming. Their plan will seek to curb U.S. emissions between 60 percent and 80 percent by 2050.

Boucher, a coal industry ally, has emphasized that his measure would not cause economic harm. State pre-emption at issue

Boucher would not say whether the bill he is writing would “pre-empt” state efforts – such as those in California and among Northeast states – to enact limits on greenhouse gases. But he suggested that the issue could resolve itself to some degree.

He noted that blocs of states had begun their own efforts to control sulfur dioxide when Congress passed the landmark Clean Air Act amendments of 1990 but that these efforts abated when the federal SO2 cap-and-trade plan was established.

“The regional consortia just dropped away, and they really never materialized beyond whatever stage they had assumed at the time we passed the bill,” Boucher said.

“To some extent I think that is going to happen again,” he added. “Once we put a carbon dioxide control in place, a greenhouse gas control in place, that has nationwide application, I really think you are going to see many of the regional blocs say ‘okay, we are satisfied.’” He added, however, that there could be exceptions and California might be one of them.

Boucher’s comments underscore inevitable regional tensions on climate issues. In a nod to lawmakers from the Northeast and California, Senate climate legislation includes a provision that allows states to set stronger rules than the federal government. Concerns with Senate plans

Boucher said any measure that forces coal-fired power plants to curb emissions too fast – before carbon capture and sequestration can be widely deployed – would cause major shifts to natural gas and drive up prices.

Boucher said the upcoming climate bill will provide a “somewhat forgiving, a gentle introduction to controls” until carbon capture and storage is ready, which he said would be around 2025. Before that, he said, coal-fired utilities will need other options available to meet obligations, such as purchase of offsets.

“The schedule prior to 2025 has got to be more forgiving,” he told reporters. “The schedule after 2025 can be very rigorous.”

Boucher said Senate proposals would impose major limits too fast. “I don’t think the Senate bills adequately address that need because the control schedule is quite severe in the early years, before we have carbon capture and storage available,” he said. “If they default to natural gas, real harm to the economy occurs.”

He did not single any specific bills out for criticism. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is currently working on climate legislation sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va.).

A major group of labor unions, the AFL-CIO, is concerned the Lieberman-Warner measure’s targets for 2020 are “overly aggressive” (E&E Daily, Nov. 8).

S.2191, to direct the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to establish a program to decrease emissions of greenhouse gases 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 08 Nov 2007 14:30:00 GMT

Full committee hearing on Lieberman-Warner cap-and-trade legislation.

Witnesses
  • Peter A. Darbee, Chairman of the Board, CEO, and President, PG&E Corporation
  • Jonathan C. Pershing, Director, Climate, Energy and Pollution Program Climate and Energy, World Resources Institute
  • Anne E. Smith, Vice President, CRA International
  • Dr. Margo Thorning, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, American Council for Capital Formation
  • Wiley Barbour, Executive Director, Environmental Resources Trust

PG&E and WRI are members of US-CAP. The Environmental Resources Trust is connected to Environmental Defense, another US-CAP member.

Thorning has appeared regularly as a minority witness challenging cap-and-trade in previous hearings. Anne Smith also has appeared as a minority witness challenging cap-and-trade in a recent House hearing.

9:44 Boxer I believe we have the momentum, the wind at our back. Sens. Inhofe and Barrasso could have thrown a monkey wrench into the process. They did not do that. I want to tell you publicly how much it meant to me and I want to thank you so much.

9:45 Inhofe I want everyone to be aware that we’ll be working together at 10:45 this morning. I think we need the administrative analysis of the costs of this bill. I think we have some excellent witnesses today. The cap-and-trade concept has been a total failure. Even the European environmentalists say it’s been a failure. If you want to address this thing there are other ways to do it. The supporters of putting brakes on our economy support going going down this path of self-destruction. Costs of up to a trillion dollars a year.

9:48 Lieberman Thanks Chairwoman Boxer for your leadership. We’ve got a problem. I think that the bill we brought forward gets the job done and does it in a way that will ultimately help our economy. There are costs but they’re worth it. Are the American people willing to pay an extra penny over twenty-five years to do something about global warming? Absolutely. These reports don’t take into account the staggering costs if we fail to do something about global warming.

9:55 Voinovich The abbreviated process by which this legislation is moving is not conducive to good legislation. There should be full vetting by the Committee on Jurisdiction. There was only one subcommittee hearing and a hurried up markup. I’m told we’ll only have one more hearing on Tuesday before a markup, and a floor vote on December 5th. At this point it’s not possible to assess the costs and benefits of this bill. We have heard from no witnesses on the efficacy of the Carbon Board. In fact, until being provided with today’s testimony, we’ve been provided with no analyses. Sufficient time has not been provided to members. Multiple analyses were run in 2003-2005 for Clear Skies when I ran the committee. I know Bali is coming up in December, and I know some people would like a scalp in their hand, but this is too important.

10:00 Boxer I don’t think Clear Skies ever became law. I think some people want to get things done. I don’t need to be told this is important. We have held twenty hearings on the various aspects of global warming. The fact is that we have state and local leaders already acting. I take issue to the fact this is being rushed. We may not go to Bali. The fact is that we have a subcommittee bill already. We have planned two legislative hearings. My staff is available. I am personally meeting with every Senator on this committee who wishes to meet. I welcome amendments. I disagree with what you’re saying. We are not rushing this through. If you don’t want to have a bill, I respect that. But I don’t think you should criticize the process. If you want more briefings, we’ll brief every day. You want to debate whether not we should have legislation, but don’t bring up Clear Skies, that’s a failure. The people are tired of partisan bickering. I want to take the strongest objection to what you’re saying.

10:04 Inhofe Our staff has been requesting meetings with your staff and it’s been denied.

Boxer I’d sure like to see evidence of that.

10:05 Klobuchar We have hunters, ski resort owners seeing the effects. I went to Greenland watching the water come out like spigots. With all due respect to Sen. Voinovich, my fellow Slovenian, we have waited too long. We let states be the laboratories of democracy. Now it’s our time. The rhetoric is over and it’s time for action. I know the bill isn’t perfect. I would like the bill to specifically mention cellulosic ethanol and wind. It gives some direction to business to invest. I know there’s issues we should address, to look at the proper incentives for clean energy. I don’t think we should wait until after the presidential election.

10:08 Bond I support cutting carbon emissions but without cutting household budgets. CAFE standards. Wind, solar, zero-carbon nuclear. This is a very problematic bill, among others, for farmers. This is a very complicated bill. Whether the consequences of the bill are deliberate or not, households will feel real pain. We have a farm bill on the floor today. I hope noone thinks this won’t have impacts on farmers. The farm costs of L-W far outweigh the benefits. Fertilizer costs will go way up. I buy a little bit of fertilizer for my operations. I’ve seen the costs go way up. How are we going to get our food supplies? Farmers will deluged with higher fertilizer, transportation, heating costs. I think is just one of the many problems.

10:13 Carper Anyone who might wonder why we haven’t made more progress can just listen to this. There’s a lot of disagreement. It’s not entirely partisan but it’s definitely strong. I want to thank Sens. Lieberman, Warner, Boxer for having the temerity, the strength of will, to forge a compromise. I’m deeply concerned with how we allocate credits in this proposal. I think we should allocate to clean energy. I come from a small state on the coast. We find ourselves on the end of the tailpipe. As governor of Delaware, we could almost close down our state and we’d still not be in attainment for ozone. The people of W. Virginia where I was born, Virginia where I grew up, Ohio where I went to school, Kentucky where my sister and her family live, are producing the pollution. Delaware has the highest rate of child asthma. 24,000 Americans will die from sulfur dioxide emissions this year, over 400 this week.

I eat a lot of fish, maybe you do to. If you happen to be a woman who’s pregnant, your child might not be so lucky. We know that 6000 children will be born this year with high levels of mercury.

I want to support this legislation. I appreciate we’ve tried to address the transportation sector. I would have us focus on three things: clean fuels, clean cars, other options than cars. I think nuclear is part of the solution. We need to come up with a compromise that actually gets the job done.

10:19 Vitter I certainly agree with you that this is an extremely important issue. I also agree that the stakes are very very high. I agree with Sen. Voinovich and others who have expressed grave concern with the accelerated process. Yes, there have been hearings for years on global warming. But I would urge the committee to have more hearings on this voluminous bill. I don’t think there’s any state who has more at stake, frankly, than Louisiana. Sea level changes could have an enormous impact on Louisiana. At the same time if we act unwisely and do things with our present fuels that aren’t justified, Louisiana will be among the first hit. We need to find out what the impacts are, what the science supports. I am very very concerned that we are taking as complex a bill as we’ve ever seen in the Senate and moving forward with sound bites and not sound policy. I’m eager to hear from more witnesses on this very complex bill. I think we need more hearings.

10:22 Lautenberg Thank you for holding this hearing. Our children and grandchildren will never understand if we don’t take action. We improved the bill in subcommittee. We expanded the bill to include natural gas, created a process for scientists to evaluate if we need stronger laws, protects states’ rights to do more, increased the 2020 target from 10% to 15%. UCS has said we need to get to 80% by 2050. There’s an endangered species here: us! There will be plenty of jobs out there, just not enough people.

The bill gives away cost-free permits to polluters. We need to move to a polluter-pay system much faster. We should think twice before giving out the majority of free permits to the biggest polluters. Some of the permits should be given to clean producers like solar. I am hopeful this bill can be improved as we go forward. I want to respond to our friend Sen. Inhofe who said cap-and-trade doesn’t work it’s done a heck of a job.

Inhofe Cap-and-trade on acid rain is not the same animal.

Lautenberg I said what I said.

Inhofe And I said what I* said.

Lieberman* This reminds me of Popeye, I am what I am.

Barrasso A number of us had the chance to sit down with Thomas Friedman this morning. I don’t think we can shut off our traditional sources. But we also have a lot of renewable sources. China and India. I think it’s important for we in America to invest in the technology. A world that by 2030 by 50% more energy because of soaring demand in China and India. I have concerns with requiring coal plants capture 85% of their emissions. I’m glad Sen. Lieberman is interested with working with me to stair-step to that requirement. I do worry about unintended consequences that energy limitations will have on our economy. I do want to reiterate that I want to address the problem of global warming. We have to show China and India that we can address emissions, create jobs, and develop the necessary technology.

10:31 Cardin ACSA gives us the best hope to pass meaningful climate legislation. I’m proud to be an original cosponsor. I think this more than an issue of climate change. It’s a matter of national security to use less fossil fuels. It’s in our economic interest. It’s a win-win-win issue. ACSA is based on two important pillars. By establishing a declining cap it reduces emissions. As we go through the process it keeps getting better. I hope it continues to get better.

It’s clear to me from the scientific information available we should strive for 80% reduction. It seems to me that from the inception of the cap we do a 100% auction. It gives us the financial wherewithal to help low-income consumers, create jobs, develop technology.

I think this bill is a great start and restores American leadership.

10:35 Craig I don’t fear this process as long as it is fair, open and transparent. My position has been consisent—cap-and-trade is obsolete. I wish Sen. Clinton was here today. She did something in Iowa last week that I was impressed by. She supported a number of incentives that are in line with what the administration supports. I would request of you, madam chair, a thorough analysis by IEA. None of us dispute the magnitude of the effort. None of us dispute the magnitude of impact. The rest of the world is frustrated. They’ve tried and they’re failing. We need new technology. I request the markup be postponed until we have the analyses of shall we say impartial observers.

10:40 Boxer We haven’t even announced when the markup is. We’re going to have so many briefings here. Sen. Clinton’s also on Sanders-Boxer. Let’s not distort her views. I just wanted to set the record straight on that. I went back and looked at the record. We all know what a slow dance is, we weren’t born yesterday. We think the time is now to act.

10:42 Sanders We have come a long way in a year. You deserve a lot of credit. All over the world people are wondering what we’re doing. I believe this legislation does not go far enough. I don’t think it is asking to much of the American people to listen to the scientific community. What the scientific community is saying is “We made a mistake! We underestimated the problem.” We’ve got to be more aggressive, not less aggressive. The time is too late for politics as usual. The world cannot wait. We need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. The 63% at most that L-W gets is just not enough.

There are number of other issues with the auction. We can’t say to polluters you have twenty to thirty more years to destroy the environment. I also am unhappy with the new entrant provisions.

The good news is that we know how to stop global warming. One of the major concerns that I have about this legislation is that there is not one nickel specific to energy efficiency which everyone knows is the low-hanging fruit. With solar, PG&E has signed with an Israeli company to build a solar plant at the scale of a small nuclear plant, producing electricity at 10 cents a kilowatt hour, competitive today. If we put 20 billion of dollars into solar we can produce gigawatts of electricity. A $10,000 small wind turbine can supply 40% of a house’s electricity need. We are not taking advantage of the technologies we already have. I don’t know what the future of clean coal is. But we don’t have to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to find out the future of solar and wind.

10:47 Boxer I ask unanimous consent to place Sen. Isakson’s statement on the record. Here’s a statement from Sen. Warner: “This committee had the chance to hold hearings on Lieberman-McCain and it did not.”

10:49 Whitehouse Nothing in the focus on the parts where we disagree should detract from the accomplishments you, Sen. Lieberman and Sen. Warner have achieved. Our targets for greenhouse gas need to be adequate and enforceable. The auction needs to be adequate and needs to have integrity. The process isn’t even subject to the Open Records Act and other oversight mechanisms. I think it’s important to focus on the impact on low-income folks. I am very pleased that the wildlife and conservation issues I’ve introduced are being addressed. I’m looking forward to looking at the role of the distribution utilities. I salute you for what has been accomplished.

10:51 Boxer This issue is fraught with a lot of concern, emotion, and we appreciate your patience. Sen. Inhofe and I need to get to the floor to make closing statements on the water bill override. Welcome to our first panelist, Peter Darbee.

10:53 Peter A. Darbee, PG&E Global warming is a global problem unsolvable without our national commitment. This will be a 1000 mile journey and I believe the world is watching for us to make the first step. In our opinion, ACSA makes that responsible first step. It would benefit from improvements in some key areas. But we believe this bill with a package of complementary measures will set us on the path of racheting down emissions. The cost of energy efficiency is about half that of a new natural gas plant. Policies and incentives should maximize efficiency. One important example is its support for decoupling, a proven strategy.

The bill could give more support for early action to increase efficiency, rather than based on historical emissions.

The sooner we take action, the smaller will be the impact on our economy.

10:58 Jonathan Pershing I’m the director of the climate program at the World Resources Institute. The problem is one of enormous urgency. The science is clear. If the US does not act quickly and aggressively, the world will lag. If we don’t act, the costs will be great. California wildfires will increase. The drought in the Southeast. Hurricanes projected to increase. The cap-and-trade system and the complementary elements in this act provide a clear market signal for investment and action. The WRI has conducted a preliminary analysis. It would cover 82% of the economy in the act. It would reduce 17% by 2020 and 71% in 2050 of covered sectors. There’s a huge range of technology options. There’s less than one percent difference in 25 year GDP growth with the implementation of these policies. The bill sends a strong international signal. There will be three issues on the table: mitigation, forestry, and help for adaptation. The bill addresses the problem of forestry, but it does not address adaptation.

11:04 Anne Smith CRA International. My testimony is my own. By 2015 S 2191 would result in the net loss of 1-2 million jobs, despite the creation of green jobs. Initial compliance requires a disruptive switch to natural gas. But then by 2025 the natural gas infrastructure will become obsolete. S 2191 sets ambitious caps but its near-term targets are overly ambitious.

11:09 Margo Thorning From 1990-2000 we reduced per capita emissions by 0.8 percent. By 2030 we need per capita reductions by 50%. A cap-and-trade system may not be the most appropriate way. Most economists think a carbon tax is preferable. The EU is not on track to meet its emission reduction targets. I think we all agree this is an important problem. I think it requires new technologies. If we look at where the emissions growth is coming from, it’s the developing countries. They’re getting more efficient but still much less efficient than US and Japan. Getting our technology them would help. Our tax code: changing depreciation. Economic growth can be a driver.

11:14 Wiley Barbour Director of Environmental Resources Trust. I’m a licensed engineer. Our expertise is in the monitoring and measurement of emissions. We are an implementation shop, if you will, working with companies who are serious about measuring and reducing their footprint. Some are interested in purchasing emission reductions. These companies want a clear signal from Washington. The exchanges are working to establish a set of contracts that companies need. I chair an environmental committee for NYSE. For the last twenty years we’ve tried voluntary programs. A mandatory cap is necessary. We’ve found the market-based approach works.

11:20 Boxer Is OPEC one of CRA International’s clients? Is ARCO? Is American Petroleum Institute, Chevron, ExxonMobil? The Natural Gas Supply Association? I want everyone to know who your clients are. Did you look at what goings on in California?

Smith I said the caps in the near term are too tight. I’m aware that California has achieved large reductions in energy intensity and I’m aware that it’s in large part energy-intensive industry has moved to other parts of the country.

Boxer I’m going to hand over the gavel to Sen. Lieberman.

11:24 Inhofe Let me ask two yes or no questions. Mr. Darbee, would you still support the bill if you did not receive free allowances?

Darbee Probably not.

Inhofe Would WRI support incentives for nuclear power?

Pershing We’d have to look at it but we’re open to considering it.

Thorning I think people need to be aware that the average production facility last 20-25 years, power plants maybe 60 years. More time to meet tight targets would substantially reduce the costs of these targets.

Inhofe We shouldn’t expect fuel switching until prices of allowances hit $50 a ton.

Smith The costs are lower with a looser cap.

Inhofe What would happen to industries like steel and cement?

Smith I was mentioning leakage when I had to end my testimony. Energy-intensive industries are extremely exposed. Some are so far on the edge that if there are not tax incentives they will like suffer huge losses.

Thorning Autos last 7-8 years, appliances 10-15, production facility last 20-25 years, power plants maybe 60 years.

Inhofe I’ve commented several times that I think a carbon tax would be more honest.

Smith I believe it’s far more suited to this climate policy.

11:29 Lieberman I’m going to ask questions on behalf of Sen. Warner as well. To PG&E, you said you’d probably not support the bill without free allowances. Where else would you get money without raising rates? Which is why you’re getting free allowances and some of the proceeds of the auctions.

Darbee We thought it would be better if the board had more transparency, a ceiling for the price of carbon, as well as a floor that would rise over time. There would be certainty over what the price of carbon would be over a range of years. If those standards and prices were public, we think it would be very constructive.

Lieberman How can we expedite the availability of technologies?

Darbee We believe the cap-and-trade system would be the best.

11:34 Pershing I have not seen Dr. Smith’s model in detail, but I believe it does not include feedback benefits or intrasectoral movement.

Lieberman I want to note if you’re Haley Barbour’s wiley cousin, ha ha. Just reelected governor of Mississippi, so we want to congratulate him. What do you think is most important for market efficiency?

Barbour They want the flexibility in when and where. I think the banking provisions are important. It incentivizes companies to overcomply today. I think that this is an essential feature. It’s that failure of banking in the EU system. The initial phase did not allow banking.

11:38 Carper I thought I heard Mr. Barbour and Mr. Darbee talk about offsets. I’d like to ask each of you to talk about the value of offsets.

Barbour The provision of the use of offsets is very wise. I’m a proponent of even greater use of offsets. I think it’s an opportunity to harness the technological know-how of our nation.

Darbee The offset mechanism is one of the reasons a cap-and-trade system is better than a tax. It unleashes the creativity of the free market.

Pershing I would agree with those comments, but mention that verifiability, transparency, monitoring must be a part of it.

Smith Offsets are a good thing to add. The limits of the offsets in the bill have something to do with the high costs of the program. You can do offsets with a carbon tax.

Thorning Verifying the offsets can be a sticky issue. Verifying Chinese offsets has been a problem. You need a real bureaucracy.

Carper I want to thank you all for your willingness to participate. Could you explain how output based allowances work?

Darbee The beauty of output-based allowances instead of historical emissions, there wouldn’t be an incentive for them to change. If you provide allowances to those who have low carbon emissions, you are rewarding that kind of behavior. Allocating emissions on the basis of output rewards those who produce electricity with no or low-carbon emissions.

11:45 Voinovich There are those that look at what we’re doing and conclude that unless we understand this is a global problem and do something more rapid than what this bill provides is fruitless. I think that what should drive this is technology. Technology to capture and sequester carbon. My concern is that there’s an urgency for us to move as quickly as possible and then it’s available for us to sell to other parts of the world. Where can we find the money to move this quickly. I’d like your comments on that. We’ve lost jobs in our state because of high natural gas costs. My heating bill is up 300% since 2000. The chemical industry. We were number one in plastics when I was governor. Are we moving fast enough.

Smith We to time the stringency of the caps, which is why there’s such a switch to gas in some projections. There’s no emphasis in this bill for funding research and development.

Thorning The Asia-Pacific Partnership is designed to do exactly what you’re asking.

11:51 Lautenberg Do you think the pace as structured in Lieberman-Warner would be too rapid, endangering our economy?

Smith It depends on how rapidly you go. The 2012-2025 pace goes too fast.

L* Is the long-term target too costly?

Smith* It’s aggressive and costly but doable.

Smith There would be no differences in the near term environmentally for a looser cap.

Smith US action would do nothing. Global action would be needed.

Lautenberg Don’t you know there’s melting happening all over?

Smith There’s ice melt in parts, and ice buildup in others. But I’m not debating that warming is happening.

Lautenberg Do you think Congress ought to require all coal plants to have the best technology?

Pershing I think Congress should add significant obligations. The cap-and-trade system effectively does that but other provisions could amplifiy that.

12:00 Craig Nuclear?

Darbee We think energy efficiency and renewables may obviate the need for nuclear, but there also may need be need for nuclear.

Coal about 3 cents per kilowatthour, nuclear today 4 cents, existing hydroelectric 3 cents, photovoltaic about 30 cents.

Craig Retirees from California are flowing into our state with our low-cost hydropower. We’re a clean state. WRI’s allocation preference? Free or not free?

Pershing We do believe the allocation should be phased out over time, the more quickly, the more economic efficiency. There are things you can do with the auction revenues. While the electricity price you pay may go up, the amount of electricity you may use may go down.

12:06 Sanders On page 12 of your written testimony you discuss a government report on concentrated solar power that by 2050 the cost could go to 8 cents by 2050. What do you see the potential of solar plants to be?

Darbee I failed to mention that new clean-coal technologies to be about 8 cents, new nuclear about 10 cents. We’re very excited about concentrated solar power because it’s cheaper than PV.

Sanders Am I wrong in saying that fossil costs are going to be going up steeply?

Darbee With solar there’s no input costs or input uncertainty. And the technology is simple.

Sanders How much electricity can we be generating?

Darbee The potential in the sunny parts of the United States, we could deliver more solar-thermal power than nuclear. Very substantial.

Sanders They’re talking about solar plants producing seven times the state of California’s needs.

Darbee That’s conceivable, yes.

Sanders I want to explore the potential of clean coal. They’re talking about getting hundreds of billions of dollars of subsidies. With solar subsidies we could get costs down to 4-5 cents pkwh.

Darbee That’s correct.

Sanders I noticed in your remarks you talked about new sources. Can you elaborate?

Darbee If one gives enough allowances to coal plants, the costs for running them will be zero. Shifting allocations will change that.

12:12 Craig Let me ask this question. It frustrates me a great deal when we move money around that doesn’t produce clean energy. Is that not a transfer of wealth?

Pershing Of course. The question is to what end. The shift should be from high-carbon-intensive processes to low-carbon intensity.

Craig Your analysis implies that emissions reductions will be achieved by the transfer of industry to other countries.

Smith What you’ve described is what we call leakage. I did not say that the cap is not met entirely by leakage. I did say provisions are missing from the bill.

Thorning The targets are so tight it would clearly impinge on consumers’ lifestyles. It would require much dimmer lighting, much more emphasis on building efficiency. We need to look very carefuly at the challenges in this bill.

Craig How can we be certain a cap-and-trade system doesn’t suffer the volatility of the European system?

Barbour There was an over-allocation to industry. There was no provision for banking into the next period. We have yet to discover how well it will work; 2008-2012 is the first period of Kyoto compliance.

12:17 Whitehouse I’d be interested in anybody’s thoughts on how to police the integrity of the auction and trade system. We’ve seen overheated markets. We have the SEC to police the capital markets. We’ve had unpoliced markets in California energy. Enron traded in energy futures and that was a nightmare. There have to be some pretty major safeguards, especially when you consider the billions, perhaps trillions of dollars in the market. This thing right now looks like the Wild West. Where would you recommend we go for models?

Darbee We’ve given a lot of thought, having been in California during that time. In general the SEC is a good model. Many people think Sarbanes-Oxley may have gone to far. And monitoring of the synthetic instruments. Secondly we’d like to propose extending on the Fed model and work with a collar with a ceiling and floor where the board would borrow against the future to maintain the ceiling.

Pershing One comment—how can you monitor it effectively. The continuous emissions monitor. We need a registry and to allow for full transparency. Almost 40 states have been providing that registry.

Smith I’d like to comment on the idea of a collar. It would provide some certainty. The only problem is that a collar will not be viable to sustain unless those prices are consistent with the cap. A safety valve type ceiling is necessary.

Thorning The SEC you have buyers and sellers on opposite ends of the transaction. But when you have an ETS it can be in both parties’ interest to collude.

Barbour I think the legislation addresses that as well as we can.

12:27 Sanders I would say that in Burlington we’ve grown reasonably well over 16-20 years without increasing electricity consumption. What is the potential of energy conservation?

Pershing The models range quite extensively. Even China has a very aggressive energy efficiency program. Energy efficiency programs improve local pollution, create jobs, etc.

Darbee I’ve heard people in out industry suggest the technology doesn’t exist. It does. We have actually entertained delegations from China. They’re gobbling up that information. They want to be more competitive than they are today. There is a lot we can do today just with energy efficiency. Waiting is not the appropriate course of action.

12:30 Sanders This hearing is adjourned.

NWF at Power Shift on Cap-and-Auction 2

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 07 Nov 2007 22:44:00 GMT

At the National Wildlife Federation table at Power Shift Youth Summit:

Q: Does the National Wildlife Federation support the idea of a cap and auction system?

A: Yeah, we’ve been working for a number of years on supporting the best cap-and-trade system possible. We support 100% auction of credits, or if there is distribution, there should only be distribution for public benefit, and want to see good legislation come out of Congress. Our time for strong action is rapidly dwindling and want to see the best legislation we can possibly pass as soon as we can possibly pass it.

Counting the Change: Accounting for the Fiscal Impacts of Controlling Carbon Emissions

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 01 Nov 2007 15:30:00 GMT

The purpose of the hearing is to explore the fiscal and distributional impacts of limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

Witnesses

Witnesses testified that global climate change will have serious effects— Witnesses testified that the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, have gradually increased over the past century and are contributing to the warming of Earth’s climate.

In light of the scientific evidence about the potential damages this could cause, momentum is growing to impose mandatory limits to stabilize and eventually reduce U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases.

Taking action now to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions would produce social benefits exceeding costs, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)— While it is difficult to assign a quantitative value to the benefits of climate change mitigation, CBO testified that “most analyses suggest that a carefully designed program to begin lowering carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions would produce greater benefits than costs.” This hearing examined ways to minimize the cost of climate change policy, apart from the benefits that would be derived from pursuing the policy in the first place.

CBO values carbon market in the billions—One of the most prominent methods of reducing greenhouse gas emissions involves a “cap-and-trade” mechanism. Under this system, the total level of CO2 emissions would be capped and corresponding emissions allowances would be issued. According to CBO, “the annual value of emissions allowances would be roughly $50 billion to $300 billion by 2020.”

According to CBO, under a cap-and-trade system, giving allowances away for free would generate windfall profits for private industry and shareholders—According to CBO’s review of the evidence, less than 15 percent of the total value of the allowances would be needed to compensate for the net financial losses of companies affected by the policies to restrict emissions. CBO cites one study that examined the impacts of a 23 percent reduction in emissions. Under this scenario, if all of the allowances were distributed for free to energy producers, stock values would double for oil and gas companies and increase more than sevenfold for coal producers.

Giving emission allowances away will not solve issue of energy prices, according to testimony—Witnesses testified that it is a common misperception that giving away the allowances to affected companies will mitigate against energy price increases. The law of supply and demand means that energy prices would be expected to rise whether energy companies have to buy allowances or are given them for free. A cap on emissions will limit the amount of energy produced from fossil fuels. Regardless of whether the government gives away or sells the allowances, witnesses testified that market forces would be expected to raise the price of fossil fuel energy.

Witnesses testified that government’s capture of the carbon market’s proceeds can be used to mitigate economic impacts— If allowances are sold, such as through an auction, the government would capture significant resources that could then be used to buffer the negative impacts of carbon trading systems for certain sectors, regions, and households.

Climate change control policies could disproportionately affect low-income households— The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimates that the average increase in energy-related costs for the poorest fifth of the population could amount to $670 to $950 per year (from a modest 15% emissions reduction). “Households with limited incomes will be affected the most by those higher prices, since they spend a larger share of their incomes on energy-related products and services than more affluent households do,” said Bob Greenstein, Executive Director of CBPP.

14 percent of auction proceeds would fully offset the increased costs to impoverished families, according to CBPP CBPP estimates that the impact of carbon controls on the poorest 20 percent of the population could be fully offset by using just 14 percent of the total resources.

According to CBPP, use of existing mechanisms such as electronic benefit transfers and increases in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program would be the most effective way of reaching large numbers of low-income households.

Carbon tax vs. cap-and-trade— Carbon taxes represent another option to control greenhouse gas emissions. While CBO pointed out that “a tax is generally the more efficient approach,” CBO Director Peter Orszag (along with other panelists) suggested that there are ways of enhancing the economic efficiency of a cap-and-trade program to provide flexibility and minimize price spikes.

Federal cap-and-trade system may be reflected in the budgetary scoring process— CBO indicated that “there is a solid case to be made that even allowances that were given away by the government should be reflected in the budgetary scoring process—specifically that the value of any allowances initially distributed at no cost to the recipients should be scored as both revenues and outlays, with no net effect on the budget deficit.”

A Climate of Change: Economic Approaches to Reforming Energy and Protecting the Environment

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 30 Oct 2007 13:00:00 GMT

On October 30, The Hamilton Project at Brookings will host a two-part forum on mitigating climate change through market mechanisms and new technologies. In addition to the release of a new Hamilton Project strategy paper, the forum will highlight two new discussion papers on how to best design market mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and will include proposals to expand — and possibly restructure — the federal research and development program to better promote the development of new greenhouse gas reducing technologies.

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin and Hamilton Project Director Jason Furman, also a Brookings senior fellow, will open the event with a special award presentation, followed with opening remarks by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers on economic approaches to energy security and climate change—the subject of the new strategy paper.

The new Hamilton Project strategy paper argues that the best way to address climate change is to give the private sector the right incentives to undertake emissions reductions. At the same time, the strategy calls for policies to protect low- and middle-income families from the consequences of higher energy prices.

The two new discussion papers will feature alternate views on how to best harness market forces to protect the environment. Gilbert E. Metcalf of Tufts University will discuss his proposal for a carbon tax and Robert N. Stavins of Harvard University will present his proposal for a cap-and-trade system. John Deutch of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and John Podesta of the Center for American Progress will also discuss their recent proposal for a new federal research and development strategy, and Richard Newell of Duke University and Resources for the Future will share his ideas for creating science and technology policies that would enable new technologies to work effectively.

Welcome and Special Presentation
  • Robert E. Rubin, Citigroup Inc. and Jason Furman, The Hamilton Project

An Economic Approach to Energy Security and Climate Change

  • Lawrence H. Summers, Harvard University

Panel One

Creating a Green Market: How to Best Price Carbon

  • Moderator: Sebastian Mallaby, Council on Foreign Relations
  • Gilbert E. Metcalf, Tufts University
  • Robert N. Stavins, Harvard University
  • Jason Furman
  • Kathleen McGinty, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Panel Two

Warming up to New Technologies: Innovating Our Way To a Stable Climate

  • Moderator: Roger C. Altman, Evercore Partners
  • John Deutch, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • John Podesta, Center for American Progress
  • Richard Newell, Duke University
  • Kelly Sims Gallagher, Harvard University
  • David Sandalow, Brookings Institution

Hyatt Regency Regency Ballroom 400 New Jersey Avenue, NW Washington, DC

Enviro Group Climate Legislation Principles 5

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 24 Oct 2007 12:09:00 GMT

As Lieberman-Warner has its first hearing, Sierra Club, Audobon, Physicians for Social Responsibility, U.S. PIRG released these seven principles for climate change legislation:
  • Reform energy policy: New national energy policies should encourage efficiency, innovation, competition, and fairness. We need more aggressive energy efficiency policies for electricity and buildings, increased CAFE standards like those passed by the Senate, and the renewable electricity standard included in the House energy bill.
  • Promote a clean energy future: Invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy to create new industries and good jobs here at home.
  • Cap and cut carbon emissions to science-based levels: Science tells us in order to prevent the worst impacts of global warming we must start cutting global warming pollution by 2012, with reductions in total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions of at least 15 to 20 percent below current levels by 2020 and 80 percent by mid-century.
  • Use all public assets for public benefit: The value of carbon permits should benefit the public – through auctions or other mechanisms – not generate windfalls for polluting industries. Free allocations, if any, must be limited to a short transition period.
  • Ensure a just transition: Allowances should be used to help finance a just transition that keeps and creates jobs, reduces impacts on low-and moderate-income citizens, and mitigates harm to affected workers and communities.
  • Provide aid to adapt to an altered climate: Allowances should be used to help distressed and impoverished people around the world, as well as wildlife and ecosystems in the face of global warming’s varied threats.
  • Manage costs without breaking the cap. “Safety valves” and other devices that break the cap on emissions must not be allowed. Any offsets must be real, surplus, verifiable, permanent, and enforceable.

Lieberman-Warner Releasing Draft Legislation: America's Climate Security Act 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 18 Oct 2007 11:37:00 GMT

As reported at Gristmill, Sens. Lieberman and Warner intend to submit the draft of their cap-and-trade legislation, America’s Climate Security Act (S. 2191), today. The legislation incorporated suggestions from stakeholders to adjust some figures from the draft outline released at the beginning of August. Notably, the 2020 reduction from 2005 emissions levels is increased from 10% to 15% (the Sanders-Boxer target), and the peak auction percentage (reached in 2036) is increased from 52% to 73%. There are numerous other components, adjustments, and details.

How does Lieberman-Warner stack up to the Sanders-Lautenberg principles or the Step It Up 2 provisions?

Sanders-Lautenberg
  • CAP: The 2020 target is as strong as Sanders-Boxer, but the 2050 target is much weaker (67% by 2050 instead of 80%) and only 75% of emissions are regulated; there are numerous explicit provisions to loosen controls to protect the economy but none to change them to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of GHG; however, it calls for a report every three years looks at both economic and environmental impacts
  • POLLUTER PAYS: The bill does not transition quickly to a full auction. Spending of auction revenues is generally in line with Sanders-Lautenberg, though large amounts go to CCS development
  • ENCOURAGE STATE LEADERSHIP: The bill explicitly rewards states with stricter standards than the federal cap
  • ADDITIONAL PROVISIONS: The bill includes green building standards and low-carbon fuel provisions, among others, but does not require new coal plants to have CCS
  • NO LOOPHOLES AND LIMITED OFFSETS: The annual caps may be temporarily increased by as much as 20% if later caps are tightened and companies pay interest on “borrowed” allowances; offsets are limited to 15% of allowances and are held to the Sanders-Lautenberg standard
Step It Up 2
  • GREEN JOBS: There is some funding for green jobs, but not 5 million by 2015
  • EFFICIENCY: There is not a federal efficiency standard of 20% greater efficiency by 2015
  • CAP: As decribed above, the cap is not economy-wide, and is 15% by 2020 and 67% by 2050, not 30% by 2020 and 80% by 2050
  • NO NEW COAL: There is not a moratorium on new coal plants without CCS

Full comparison of October release with the original August draft below the jump.

Cap

The bill specifies an annual aggregate tonnage cap, expressed in terms of Co2 equivalence, for each year from 2012 through 2050. The cap that the bill will specify for 2012 will be the 2005 emissions level. And: 10% 15% below 2005 by 2020, 30% by 2030, 50% by 2030, 70% by 2050. With respect to 1990 levels: 19% above 1990 levels by 2012, at 1990 levels by 2020, 17% below by 2030, 40% by 2030, 67% by 2050.

The emissions monitoring and reporting system is modeled on Klobuchar-Snowe (S 1387).

Coverage

Covered sectors represent about 80% 75% of total US emissions. The agricultural sector is not covered. Residential appliances are not covered by the cap, but efficiency standards in the bill apply to them.

Allowances

  • Each year from 2012 to 2016 20% of that year’s National Emission Allowance Account for free to covered entities within the industry sector, transitioning to zero by 2036.
  • In 2012 20% of the NEAA will be allocated to the electric power sector. A portion of that 20% will be free to new entrants to the electric power sector. The allocation will be at 20% from 2012 – 2016, then transition to 0% by 2036.
  • 10% will be allocated to load-serving entities to defray energy-cost impacts on low- and middle-income consumers and to promote demand-side energy efficency, some of it for free to rural electric cooperative facilities.
  • 8%5% will be allocated to covered entities who have taken pre-enactment action since the 1994 Rio Treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That 8%5% will transition to 0% by 2020 2017.
  • Each year 4% will be allocated to state governments, half based on population, half on historical state emissions. Each year 9% will be allocated to state governments as such:
    • 5% split 1/3 based on LIHEAP expenditures; 1/3 based on population; 1/3 based on amount of coal mining, natural gas processing, and petroleum refining
    • 1% to states that have at least 90% of new buildings complying with the efficiency codes in the HR 3221
    • 1% to states that have adopted decoupling regulations for any electric and natural gas utilities in the state
    • 2% to states with a stricter cap than the federal cap
    States must use at least 90% of allowances on climate change mitigation and adaptation (e.g. wildfire suppression, technology R&D, subsidies for low-income consumers and energy-intensive industries)
  • Each year until 2035 4% will be placed into a reserve “Bonus Account”, to be allocated to US coal mines firms who successfully perform geologic sequestration of CO2 from electricity generation, with a multiplier of 4.5 per unit of CO2 sequestered in 2012 that decreases to zero in 2040
  • Each year 7.5% 5% will be allocated to farmers, foresters, and other landowners to store carbon in soils, crops, and forests.
  • Each year 2.5% will be allocated to the transportation sector.
  • Each year 3% will be allocated for reducing the rate of tropical deforestation in other nations
  • 6% of the 2012 allowances, 4% of 2013, and 2% of 2012 are to be disbursed in early auctions starting within one year of enactment and ending in 2011

Allowances for Auction

  • 24% in 2012 will go to auction under the aegis of the Climate Change Credit Corporation; rising to 52% by 2035 73% by 2036.

Auction Proceeds

  • 20% for a public-private partnership for power-sector technologies including CCS
  • 20% for public-private partnership for CCS
  • 20% for transportation sector technologies and reducing miles traveled
  • 10% for environmental mitigation
  • 10% for SO2, NOx, mercury emission reduction from coal plants
  • 10% to state and local for low-income community mitigation
  • 10% for international mitigation
new
  • 55% to Energy Technology Deployment Program
  • 20% to Energy Assistance Fund
  • 20% to Adaptation Fund
  • 5% to Climate Change Worker Training Fund

new Energy Technology Deployment Program

A series of financial incentive programs designed to accelerate the development and deployment of renewable electricity technologies, low-carbon electricity technologies, advanced bio-fuels such as cellulosic ethanol, CO2 capture and storage systems, electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and high-efficiency consumer products.

new Energy Assistance Fund

  • 50% to LIHEAP
  • 25% to the Weatherization Assistance Program for Low-Income Persons
  • 25% to a new Rural Energy Assistance Program

new Climate Change Worker Training Fund

Funding for a new Department of Labor workforce education, training, and placement program.

new Adaptation Fund
  • 40% to the Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Account established under the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act.
  • 20% to the Interior Department for funding endangered species, migratory bird, and other fish and wildlife programs.
  • 5% to the Interior Department for cooperative grant programs that benefit wildlife.
  • 5% to US Forest Service for adaptation activities carried out on National Forests and National Grasslands
  • 25% split evenly between EPA and Army Corps for restoring large-scale freshwater and estuarine ecosystems
  • 5% to Commerce Department for cooperative grant programs such as the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program, the Community-Based Restoration Program, and programs established under the Coastal Zone Management Act.

CCS

CCS regulations and a legal framework for the Federal assumption of liability for geological storage will be proposed by a study group within two years of enactment.

Carbon Market Efficiency Board, Banking

  • Up to 15% of the allowances a covered entity must submit may be comprised of borrowed allowances, with an interest rate set by the Board of 10%, adjustable by the Board.
  • Up to 15% of the allowances that a covered entity must submit may be comprised of offset credits.
  • Up to 15% of the allowances that a covered entity must submit may be comprised of allowances purchased on a certified foreign greenhouse gas emissions trading market.
  • the Board may increase the number of emissions credits if the average daily closing price of an emissions credit exceeds the upper end of the range predicted by the CBO prior to the start of the program.
  • The Board may adjust the terms and interest rates of the emissions loans “as needed to avoid significant harm to the economy” and “in the event of more extreme economic circumstances” to raise the cap temporarily by as much as 5% provided that subsequent year’s caps are tightened so that cumulative reductions are unchanged.

Offsets

“The bill will set forth detailed, rigorous requirements for offsets, with the purpose of ensuring that they will represent real, additional, verifiable, and permanent emissions reductions.”

Foreign Tariffs

[Modeled on Bingaman-Specter (S 1766)] The President will be authorized eight years after enactment to require that importers of GHG-intensive products submit emissions allowances of a value equivalent to that of the allowances that the US system effectively requires of domestic manufacturers, if it is determined that nation has not taken commensurate action to reduce GHG emissions.

new Climate Change and National Security Council

The Secretary of State is the Council’s chair, and the EPA Administrator, the Secretary of Defense, and the Director of National Intelligence are the Council’s other members.

The Council makes an annual report to the President and the Congress on how global climate change affects instability and conflict, and recommends spending to mitigate global warming impacts and conflict.

Up to five percent of auction proceeds, at the President’s discretion, may be used to carry out the report recommendations.

new Energy Efficiency

ACSA includes the appliance and building efficiency provisions of HR 3221.

new Reviews

Two National Academy of Sciences reports every three years:
  1. a broad review to determine:
    • whether the cap-and-trade system is functioning properly
    • whether the emissions trading market is liquid, transparent, and relatively free of dangerous volatility
    • whether US emissions are coming down as projected
    • whether atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions are stabilizing, on account of US and overseas emissions trends
    • whether any of the allocations or uses of auction proceeds should be changed
    • whether additional measures are required to protect low- and moderate- income Americans to cope with cost changes
  2. whether technology deployment is enabling the US economy to comply with ACSA’s emissions caps without suffering hardship, and recommendations for a tightening or a loosening of the emissions caps

A one-time EPA report recommending policies to reduce emissions from the transportation sector.

Regionally-specific analyses by the EPA of the new infrastructure, safety, health, land-use planning policies necessary for adaptation.

new Miscellaneous

The President is authorized to suspend the provisions of the bill in the event of a national emergency.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is required to require publicly traded companies to disclose global warming related financial risks.

Actions that EPA takes pursuant to ACSA are subject to the Administrative Procedures Act and the Clean Air Act.

States are not preempted from enacting and enforcing greenhouse gas emission reduction requirements that are at least as stringent as the federal ones.

Sanders and Lautenberg State Climate Legislation Principles

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 18 Oct 2007 05:22:00 GMT

Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) yesterday released a statement of principles for judging climate change legislation. Both are members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s Subcommittee on Private Sector and Consumer Solutions to Global Warming and Wildlife Protection, representing the majority with Sen. Lieberman and Sen. Baucus; Lieberman and Warner plan to submit cap-and-trade legislation to the subcommittee today.

Earlier in the month, a group of liberal Democratic senators outlined their goals for climate change legislation, praising the Lieberman-Warner effort.

Here are the Sanders-Lautenberg principles in short:
  • Targets must be set to cap atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases at a max of 450 PPM CO2 equivalent, latest science continually taken into acount
  • Quick transition to polluter-pays auction, with monies providing economic relief and significant investment in renewables and energy efficiency
  • No federal pre-emption of state efforts
  • Additional policies such as building and fuel standards and CCS requirements that ensure rapid deployment of clean energy technology
  • Offsets should be limited, real, verifiable, additional, permanent and enforceable
  • The Solution Must Recognize the Gravity of the Problem The scientific evidence is clear that humanity is responsible for global warming. As such, any action we take to prevent it must be bold, aggressive, and comprehensive enough to prevent the devastating effects of catastrophic climate change. Targets must be set to ensure that the global concentration of greenhouse gases rises to no more than 450 parts per million carbon dioxide equivalent. This requires a strong 2020 target to get the country shifted to a low-carbon economy and to make the long-term reductions that are needed in the fight against global warming. Additionally, we must ensure that the latest science is continually considered and informs our ongoing action.
  • Quickly Transition to Polluter Pays We must quickly transition to a polluter-pays scheme, and an auction is the most economically efficient and fair way to do so. Auctioning allowances will provide the incentive for companies to develop and deploy cutting-edge, low-carbon technologies. Additionally, the increased revenues from a full auction will undoubtedly help to provide relief to all those affected by global warming, help support our transition to a low-carbon economy, and to fund a significant increase in the country’s use of renewable and energy efficiency technologies, including solar and wind.
  • Encourage State Leadership The federal government should set the floor, not the ceiling, for action on and innovation in addressing global warming – consistent with the Clean Air Act and other major environmental laws. Over the past few years, states have stepped in to fill the unfortunate void left by a lack of federal leadership on global warming. As we now work to catch up, states must be able to continue to provide leadership and be able to pursue innovative strategies to protect their citizens from the risks of global warming.
  • Additional Policies to Include in a Cap and Trade Bill While a cap and trade bill sets the basis for the mandatory emission reductions that are needed throughout the country, additional policies are needed to ensure the rapid and often cheaper deployment of clean energy technologies. Examples of such policies include green building standards, which will reduce long-term energy costs for the occupants of the property, a requirement that any new coal plant deploy carbon capture and storage technology, and policies that offer a roadmap for reduced carbon transportation fuels.
  • Flexibility Mechanisms Must Not Result in Illusory Emission Reductions While theoretically offsets yield the same global warming benefit for less cost, in reality it is difficult, and some believe impossible, to ensure their long-term environmental integrity. As a result, the use of offsets should be strictly limited. In addition, they must be real, verifiable, additional, permanent and enforceable and should not undermine the signals to industry for technology development and deployment.

Democratic Senators Outline Goals for Climate Change Legislation 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 11 Oct 2007 13:56:00 GMT

Democratic Senators Bob Menendez (NJ), Jack Reed (RI), John Kerry (MA), Russ Feingold (WI), Chris Dodd (CT) and Dick Durbin (IL) wrote last week to Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John Warner (R-VA), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee, to weigh in on the draft plan of the legislation the two are developing.

They mirror the previous praise by Democrats on the subcommittee in their letter:
We write today to congratulate you on your leadership in addressing global warming. The outline of proposed legislation that you distributed last month is an important start and your efforts to forge a bipartisan bill and attempt to pass a meaningful climate change bill this Congress deserve praise and recognition.
They go on to express some concerns, though without the vehemence of the Kit Bond’s conservative criticism:
  • Calling for a 80% reduction by 2050 with specific and aggressive interim targets, as opposed to the 70% target in the draft
  • Reiterating opposition to “safety valve” legislation like that in Bingaman-Specter
  • Criticizing the degree to which free allocations of emissions credits are given to the fossil fuel sector
  • Calling for more emphasis on energy efficiency and renewable energy: “take some of the considerable resources generated by the auction process and devote them to further research and incentives for renewable energy . . . make the bill more balanced by devoting a larger share of the allowance value to public purposes, including support for energy efficiency and renewables”

Boucher, Dingell in House Energy Committee Call for Cap-and-Trade

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 03 Oct 2007 18:28:00 GMT

As he previously announced he would, Energy and Commerce’s Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee chair Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) released the first of a series of white papers on climate legislation today, Scope of a Cap-and-Trade Program.

Based on the hearings earlier this year, the Committee and Subcommittee Chairmen have reached the following conclusions: The United States should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by between 60 and 80 percent by 2050 to contribute to global efforts to address climate change. To do so, the United States should adopt an economy-wide, mandatory greenhouse gas reduction program. The central component of this program should be a cap-and-trade program. Given the breadth of the economy that will be affected by a national climate change program and the significant environmental consequences at stake, it is important to design a fair program that obtains the maximum emission reductions at the lowest cost and with the least economic disruption. The Subcommittee and full Committee will draft legislation to establish such a program.

Oddly, the white paper fails to mention a baseline for emissions reductions; the scientific consensus for the 80 percent reduction is from 1990 emissions levels.

The white paper makes no recommendations on how credits should be allocated, though Boucher has stated his resistance to auctions in the past. Nor does it discuss interaction with foreign carbon markets or how to deal with imports from unregulated entities.

The white paper argues that complementary measures are necessary:
“Even with a broad-based cap-and-trade program, complementary measures (such as a carbon tax or other tax-based incentives, efficiency or other performance standards, or research and development programs) will also be needed. For example, funding for research, development, and deployment of new technologies would assist industries that will need to adopt new technologies. In addition, efficiency or other performance standards might be appropriate for some economic actors that would be inappropriate to include directly in a cap-and-trade program, but that should contribute to an economy-wide reduction program in some other way.

Proposed measures range from Dingell’s carbon tax, increased CAFE standards, appliance and lighting efficiency standards, a federal renewable energy standard, to carbon sequestration funding.

Further notes are below.

Interestingly, the report draws extensively from the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions September report, Size Thresholds for Greenhouse Gas Regulation: Who Would be Affected by a 10,000-ton CO2 Emissions Rule? The Nicholas Institute is run by Sen. Lieberman’s former environmental counsel, Nick Profeta.

A later white paper will discuss carbon offsets in the agricultural and industrial sector.

Greenhouse gas emissions from other sources in [the industrial] sector (such as landfills) generally may not lend themselves to regulation under a cap-and-trade program if there is difficulty in measuring the emissions accurately. For example, EPA currently operates methane programs that encourages landfills and other soruces to capture gas and use it for electricity generation. . . . The agricultural sector, however, does have significant opportunities to reduce emissions that may lend themselves to measurement, which could make them appropriate as a source of credits or offsets in a cap-and-trade program…. [manure methane capture, cropland biological sinks]... A later White Paper will discuss the potential for using such reductions as offsets or credits as part of the cap-and-trade program.

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