Waxman Supporters Claim He 'Has The Votes' To Replace Dingell

Posted by Wonk Room Fri, 07 Nov 2008 16:52:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

John Dingell (D-MI) and Henry Waxman (D-Cal.)
According to a report in National Journal’s CongressDaily, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) has sufficient votes in the Democratic caucus to win a vote to replace Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Waxman announced his intent to take the chairmanship yesterday, telling reporters, “I think I have a good chance of winning.”

A likely measure of the depth of Waxman’s support is last month’s statement of climate principles, signed by 152 members, or two-thirds of the Democratic caucus, on October 2. The letter, led by Waxman, Ed Markey (D-MA), and Jay Inslee (D-WA), details much stronger standards than were found in the draft legislation Dingell produced the following week.

The National Journal reports:
Dingell is expected to win support from Majority Leader Hoyer, Midwestern Democrats, members of the Congressional Black Caucus – who typically back the seniority – and Blue Dog Coalition members.

The Blue Dogs are self-identified “conservative Democrats,” many of whom disproportionately supported Bush’s agenda. Dingell, it should be noted, is not a Blue Dog and is a strongly progressive voice on many issues.

Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), the coal-country chairman of the Energy & Commerce subcommittee that controls greenhouse pollution legislation, echoed the conservative mantra that this election provided no mandate for change. Supporting Dingell, Boucher warned that it would be problematic “if the first action of the new majority … is a dramatic move to the left.”

However, this is not an ideological battle. For example, Waxman has secured the support of senior Blue Dog Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), who told reporters he is “on Henry’s whip team.” Both Waxman and Dingell have made economic justice and public health central planks of their careers. Their differences are strategic, not ideological. Dingell’s work on climate change has emphasized the approach of protecting industry from economic harm, whereas Waxman believes that robust economic health will come from the transition to a clean energy economy.

National Journal’s Dan Friedman has updated his report with details of a call with Dingell supporters who “forcefully rejected” the claim Waxman has sufficient support to oust Dingell:
These claims that Mr. Waxman has the votes are just not true,” said Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee Chairman Bart Stupak, D-Mich. “There is no doubt in my mind at the end of the day that Chairman Dingell will still be referred to as Chairman Dingell.” Stupak and Reps. John Barrow, D-Ga., and Mike Doyle, D-Pa. said Waxman has not made a clear case for why he should replace Dingell. “I asked [Waxman] quite pointedly what his basis for challenging Mr. Dingell was,” Doyle said. “He was unable to give me a single reason why he thought Mr. Dingell shouldn’t be chairman other than the fact that he [Waxman] would be a better chairman.”

Waxman Plans To Challenge Dingell For Control Of Energy And Commerce

Posted by Wonk Room Wed, 05 Nov 2008 21:32:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

John Dingell (D-MI) and Henry Waxman (D-CA)
Roll Call reports that Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) plans to challenge Rep John Dingell (D-MI) “for chairmanship of the influential Energy and Commerce Committee.” The Committee has jurisdiction over a wide array of issues, including energy policy, health care, and interstate commerce.

In the 110th Congress, Dingell and Waxman took very different stances on global warming issues. In stark contrast, Dingell opposed California’s petition to set automotive emission standards for greenhouse gases, while Waxman led hearings to investigate why the EPA denied the California waiver.

The two also took different paths after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called in January, 2007, for rapid action on legislation that would limit greenhouse emissions. Waxman introduced the Safe Climate Act in March to reduce emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Dingell, a longtime defender of the auto industry, instead worked through a series of hearings and white papers on this complex issue to introduce draft legislation this October.

Dingell “put aside” the global warming legislation to push a provision in the 2007 energy bill that increased fuel economy standards for the first time in decades. When signed by President Bush in December, it marked a major achievement for the environment and the economy—but has since been used by the Bush administration for an excuse for inaction on mandatory global warming regulations.

As Roll Call writes, “The move marks a major showdown between two Democratic powerhouses.”

E&E News reports:
This is a fight for all the marbles,” said one refining industry lobbyist. “If Henry gets this, my god, given the scope of jurisdiction of the Energy and Commerce Committee, all hell will break loose legislatively if Waxman chairs this thing.”

Dingell and Boucher Unveil Draft Climate Legislation

Posted by Wonk Room Wed, 08 Oct 2008 21:24:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

Dingell, stepping it upAs the 110th Congress comes to a close, two of the legislators in charge of climate legislation in the House of Representatives yesterday released a draft climate plan. Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), the powerful chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA), chair of the Energy and Air Quality subcommittee, have primary jurisdiction in the House for legislation that puts mandatory limits on carbon emissions. Although such legislation has been a top priority for Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) since she became Speaker of the House in January 2007, Dingell and Boucher declared they would not be rushed, instead working on the 2007 energy bill, holding several hearings and releasing four white papers from October to May of this year. Dingell’s district is in the heart of the U.S. auto industry; Boucher represents Virginia’s coal country. Below is an analysis of some of the key issues raised in their 460-page draft legislation, an ambitious effort by the two congressmen.

EMISSIONS TARGETS. Dingell and Boucher call for emissions reductions of 80 percent from 2005 levels by 2050, in line with the minimum of scientific recommendations, but with reductions of only six percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Punting any significant reductions until after 2020 means that the Dingell-Boucher plan falls grossly short of what is needed to forestall catastrophe:

Dingell-Boucher emissions pathway

In contrast, Europe is maintaining its commitment to unilateral reductions of 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

REGULATORY STRUCTURE. In their letter to other members, Dingell and Boucher criticize the Supreme Court’s Massachusetts v. EPA decision that the EPA must regulate greenhouse gases, saying, “We believe that elected and accountable representatives in the Congress, not the Executive Branch, should properly design that regulatory program.” Their legislation would overturn the Supreme Court ruling by removing greenhouse gases from the Clean Air Act’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards regulations.

The draft provides a broad range of options for dealing with vehicle emissions standards, ranging from preempting the right of California and other states to provide additional protection from automotive pollution to allowing the EPA and the states to implement such protections. They also signal that they see state-level regulation of emissions as an economic threat, saying their actions “could be disruptive to interstate commerce and counterproductive to the goal of limiting national greenhouse gas emissions.” Their draft legislation would outlaw any state or regional cap and trade program.

MONEY. The Center for American Progress strongly supports the “polluter pays” principle for cap and trade programs to reduce global warming. The cost of pollution allowances should not be shifted to the taxpayer. Giving free permits to polluters would be a global warming bailout. The polluting industries are lobbying heavily to receive most if not all permits for free, particularly in initial years of the program. The European cap-and-trade system originally gave away permits, resulting in massive windfall profits for polluters. They are moving to a full auction of permits, like the new Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative cap-and-trade program that covers northeastern states.

The Dingell-Boucher draft does not take a position on how permits should be allocated initially, instead detailing four scenarios, three of which involve massive giveaways to covered industries. In every scenario, Dingell-Boucher would protect low-income consumers from increases in energy prices through tax breaks and rebates, and invest heavily in new technology deployment (e.g., renewables, advanced coal, advanced vehicles). Although their allocation scenarios are risible in detail, they do a good job of covering the competing priorities in moving to a low-carbon economy:
  1. Protect low-income consumers from energy costs
  2. Minimize compliance costs for covered polluters
  3. Invest in technology development and deployment
  4. Invest in complementary programs in efficiency and clean energy
  5. Support international efforts and adaptation
  6. Give rebates to middle- and upper-income consumers

Dingell and Boucher believe that low-income families must be protected, that industry should receive pollution cost protection and new technology support, and that all else is up for debate. Nearly two-thirds of their Democratic colleagues indicated last week a very different set of priorities, that focuses not on protecting polluters but on respecting scientific urgency, delivering economic equity, and capturing the energy opportunity.

House Leadership Prepares Cap-and-Trade Legislation for April

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 10 Mar 2008 13:26:00 GMT

E&E News’s Darren Samuelson reports in a pair of stories that the House of Representatives is moving forward to introduce companion legislation to the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S. 2191), the cap-and-trade legislation wending its way through the Senate. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), whose Energy and Commerce Committee has jurisdiction, told steel industry officials last week that he plans “to release one or more draft global warming bills for comment by mid-April.”

Samuelson also reported that Rep. Markey, chair of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and a strong ally of Speaker Pelosi, has been meeting with “alternative energy producers, labor groups, financial market officials and industry representatives” to craft legislation.
Rep. Markey is preparing to send a report directly to Pelosi with proposals to address climate change or offer amendments when the House Energy and Commerce Committee holds a markup on a major piece of climate legislation, sources on and off Capitol Hill said today.

Markey said: “I think you should do the best you can each year. I do. And we have a real chance this year. If there’s an epiphany that occurred at the White House, then there we are with a chance to make history.”

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.

Dingell Unveils Carbon Tax Proposal 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 27 Sep 2007 01:01:00 GMT

As he announced he would last month, Rep. John Dingell (D-Detroit), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, unveiled draft legislation for a carbon emission fee and related elements.

Dingell is soliciting comment online.

The elements:
  • A $50 tax per ton of carbon (approximately equivalent to a $14 price on CO2, not the $100/ton CO2 reported by CNSNews) to be phased in over five years and then indexed to inflation
    • Revenues will be apportioned to Medicare and Social Security, universal healthcare, SCHIP, conservation, renewable energy research and development, and LIHEAP
  • A $0.50/gallon gasoline tax to be phased in over five years and then indexed to inflation
    • Diesel would be excluded from this tax because “the fuel economy benefits of diesel surpass even its emissions benefits; it provides about a thirty percent increase in fuel economy and a twenty percent emissions reduction,” figures basically in line with the Union of Concerned Scientists report, The Diesel Dilemma “on an energy-equivalent basis, each gallon of diesel fuel results in about three percent more heat-trapping gas emissions than gasoline.”)
    • Biofuel blends would only be taxed on their petroleum content
    • Revenues go to the highway trust fund, with 40% going to the mass transit and 60% going to roads
  • A $0.50/gallon jet fuel tax, with revenues going into the airport and airway trust fund
  • McMansion provision: Phases out the mortgage interest deduction on primary mortgages on houses over 3000 square feet, going to zero for homes 4200 square feet and up
    • Exemptions for historical homes (prior to 1900) and farm houses
    • Exemptions for home owners who purchase carbon offsets to make home carbon neutral or own LEED certified homes
    • Budget savings will go to pay for an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit