The Listing Decision for the Polar Bear Under the Endangered Species Act 3

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 02 Apr 2008 14:00:00 GMT

Dirk Kempthorne has not confirmed attendance.

Witnesses
  • The Honorable Dirk Kempthorne, Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior (INVITED)
  • Dr. Douglas B. Inkley, Senior Scientist, National Wildlife Federation
  • Kassie R. Siegel, Director of the Climate, Air, and Energy Program, Center for Biological Diversity
  • William P. Horn Esq., Birch, Horton, Bittner & Cherot

The Climate Policy Puzzle: Putting the Pieces Together 5

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 02 Apr 2008 11:00:00 GMT

Real progress on climate change issues requires new, manageable policy. It’s time to get to work. The Climate Policy Puzzle: Putting the Pieces Together is 2008’s must attend conference for those looking for straight talk on U.S. policy developments.

Join A&WMA, Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. (R-UT), and ranking representatives from the environmental community in Arlington, VA April 2-3, 2008 for a climate change event that breaks new ground.

Get down to business on positions, perspectives and predictions with issue-leaders from:

  • Natural Resources Defense Council (USCAP)
  • 3M Corp.
  • Duke University
  • Environmental Defense Fund (USCAP)
  • Hogan & Hartson
  • U.S Environmental Protection Agency
  • Clean Air Institute Asia
  • UK Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
  • The U.S. Department of Energy
  • The Electric Power Research Institute
  • The United Mine Workers of America
  • U.S. DOE’s National Energy Technology Lab
  • The American Petroleum Institute
  • The World Resources Institute (USCAP)
  • The Center for Clean Air Policy
  • Analysis Group, Inc.
  • Edison Electric Institute
  • DTE Energy
  • Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment
  • ES&P LLC
  • Environmental Council of the States
  • National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA)
  • Utah Department of Environmental Quality
  • RTP Environmental Associates, Inc.
  • Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District
  • Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
  • Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
  • Arizona Public Service
  • The LEVON Group
  • The Energy and Resources Institute, North America (TERI NA)
  • Pew Center for Global Climate Change (USCAP)

Marriott Crystal City Gateway
1700 Jefferson Davis Highway
Arlington, VA 22202
Phone: 703-920-3230
Fax: 703-271-5212

To register, download the registration form and return it with your payment to:

Registrar, Air & Waste Management Association
420 Fort Duquesne Blvd., 3rd Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222-1435 USA
Fax: 412-232-3450
Phone: 412-232-3444

Important Note! The advance registration deadline was extended from March 10 to March 17.

Refund Policy:

If written notice of cancellation is received on or before March 19, 2008, payment will be refunded, less a $75 cancellation fee. (Cancellation fees apply regardless of payment method). Substitutions may be made at any time; payment for any difference is due at the time of substitution. This refund policy applies to all occurrences, including weather-related events and other natural disasters. In the unlikely occurrence of event cancellation, the Association is not liable for any expenses incurred by the registrant other than the full refund of registration fee(s) paid.

Continuing Education Credit Opportunities:

Conference attendees may be eligible for continuing education credit. For more information, please contact Autumn Secrest, Programs Coordinator, at 412-232-3444 ext. 6031, or asecrest@awma.org.

Conference Committee:

Conference Co-chairs:

  • William J. Palermo, PE, Principal, RTP Environmental Associates, Inc.
  • John S. Seitz, Partner, ES&P, LLC

Organizing Committee Members:

  • A. Gwen Eklund, Director, Power, TRC
  • Peter F. Hess, PE, DEE, QEP
  • Miriam Lev-On, Executive Director, The LEVON Group, LLC
  • C. V. Mathai, Ph.D., QEP, Manager for Environmental Policy, Arizona Public Service
  • Jim Pfeiffer, Environmental Advisor, Air Quality, BP Exploration (Alaska), Inc.
  • Jayne M. Somers, Program Manager, U.S. EPA Climate Change Division
  • Richard W. Sprott, Executive Director, Utah Department of Environmental Quality
  • C. Flint Webb, Project Manager, SAIC

The Auto Industry's New "Alliance" 5

Posted by Warming Law Thu, 27 Mar 2008 19:58:00 GMT

Hybrid Living, passing along a local report from earlier this week, delivers the news that even as Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson defends the state’s authority to limit greenhouse gas emissions as a party to California’s lawsuit against the EPA, its proposed clean cars law has stalled—perhaps fatally for this session—in the state legislature. Lobbying by the auto industry is playing a part, but a novel assist apparently goes to corn growers and ethanol producers, who argued that the law may harm efforts to expand ethanol markets and impair the certification of "flex-fuel" cars and trucks that run on a blend of ethanol and gasoline.

But is it really that novel? Advocates from Clean Energy Minnesota fervently deny that there’s any real reason for concern, and assert that the group principally repsonsible for ginning up local opposition is essentially a mouthpiece for the auto industry:

[James Erkel of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy] said the concern is baseless, pointing to GMC’s 2008 Sierra 1500 pickup that runs on a rich blend of E-85 (85-percent ethanol and 15-percent gasoline) as well as similar vehicles that would meet the more stringent California standards.  The ARB’s Dimitri Stanich said California air regulators have certified 300,000 flex fuel vehicles and suggested there will be more as soon as the state increases the number of pumps offering E-85 fuel, which California is now doing.   

[...]

Erkel said that the auto industry is masquerading as an ethanol advocate as it enlists the corn growers and other farm groups to beat back legislation in Minnesota. The default "technical advisor" to the ethanol groups opposing the Marty and Hortman bills is the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition, headquartered in Jefferson City, Mo. Its 16-member board of directors includes representatives of Chrysler, Ford, GMC and Nissan.

Obviously it’s not shocking that the auto industry would employ astroturf tactics and overwrought arguments to delay clean cars legislation (though it is noteworthy, in terms of looking at the industry’s credibility, to see a spokesman admit that the usual suspects "can’t stop this bill by ourselves"). The Minn Post also notes that when it asked the Minnesota Corn Growers and the Farm Bureau to explain their position, the silence was deafening and the apparent reliance on the aforementioned "technical advisors" clear:    

Calls by MinnPost to the Corn Growers and the Farm Bureau ended with representatives saying they needed to check with their "technical people" for specific reasons for the groups’ opposition to the legislation. Neither group’s representatives called back with what they may have learned from their technical advisers.   

Hybrid Living’s Sam Abuelsamid, agreeing that there’s nothing here to justify delaying the legislation other than a slight hypothetical concern, suggests that local opponents ought to look elsewhere for solutions to their concerns:

There doesn’t actually appear to be anything in the proposed legislation that would specifically harm the E85 market….It appears that the only way that this actually affects Team Ethanol is if the CO2 limits hurt sales of larger cars and full-size trucks which comprise the bulk of currently available flex-fuel vehicles. If truck sales are limited by de facto fuel economy requirements, than at least in the short term, E85-capable vehicle sales will suffer. Perhaps the ethanol side should be pushing the auto industry to make more of their vehicles E85 ready instead of fighting clean air rules.

PEER: FWS Scientists in "Ethics Tug of War"; IG Launches Inquiry 11

Posted by Wonk Room Tue, 18 Mar 2008 16:11:00 GMT

This is crossposted from the newly launched Think Progress Wonk Room, which will be covering policy news from climate change to national security. The issues covered by Hill Heat writer Brad Johnson will enjoy deeper coverage at the Wonk Room, where he is now a full-time staffer.

The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility today highlighted the ethical conundrum facing scientists currently serving under Fish & Wildlife Service Director H. Dale Hall.

In addition, this month the Interior Inspector General opened a preliminary inquiry into whether Hall violated the code of conduct for repeatedly missing Endangered Species Act deadlines to list the polar bear, despite clear scientific guidance.

PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch asks: “How can we expect scientists to obey a code of conduct that their director ignores?”

The latest delay has also triggered a lawsuit from environmental groups.

Allison Winter reports for E&E News:
The Interior Department’s internal watchdog said today it has begun a preliminary probe of the delayed polar bear decision.

Responding to requests from environmental groups, the Inspector General’s Office official said its preliminary review will determine if there is a need for a full investigation.

The Sierra Club, Alaska Wilderness League and four other organizations requested a review by Inspector General Early Devaney, claiming the delay violates the Fish and Wildlife Service’s scientific code of conduct and rules of the Endangered Species Act by allowing MMS to proceed with Chukchi lease sales.

UCS at Chamber of Commerce Presentation Against Climate Legislation in New Hampshire

Posted by Brad Johnson Sat, 15 Mar 2008 17:17:00 GMT

The Alliance for Energy and Economic Growth (AEEG) (an industry coalition organized in 2001 to support the administration’s Energy Task Force efforts), the National Association of Manufacturers, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are hosting a series of state climate change dialogues in 2008 in Ohio, New Hampshire, Montana, and North Dakota, with Margo Thorning of the American Council for Capital Formation, a conservative corporate think tank. The first such forum was held in Manchester, NH on Wednesday, March 12.

Jim Rubens, of the Union of Concerned Scientists attended the event. Below is his story of what transpired, a Hill Heat exclusive.
The American Council for Capital Formation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – fronting for coal, oil and the fossil-heavy utilities – last Wednesday road tested their forum on what they claim are the dire economic consequences of the Lieberman-Warner climate bill. It was train wreck I am certain they will not want repeated.

First, in response to a letter from 8 utility CEOs asking that exaggerations be removed from the Charles River Associates analysis forming the basis for the phony projections, lead ExxonMobil-funded economist Dr Margo Thorning announced that no specific impact numbers would be provided. We’d need to wait to see the new, even more slanted ACCF-sponsored study due to be released the next day.

Next, a couple of global warming denialists in the audience asked the Chamber rep why the nation’s business lobby was buying into the need for anything at all to be done, given that glaciers are growing worldwide, Mars is getting colder, etc. The response: the IPCC report is in, and attacking the science is no longer politically tenable. Subtext read in the facial expressions from the dais: we’d love to, but we’re stuck now fear mongering the economics of an American energy future of stable prices, domestic job growth, and intact Florida coastlines.

Next, Tufts economist Dr Julie Nelson asked Dr. Thorning whether the new ACCF-sponsored analysis would be any better than the CRA version, allowing peer review, disclosing assumptions, etc, like all the competing 25 climate-economy models which project only very modest impacts. Answer: an embarrassed no.

Next, yours truly asked Dr. Thorning whether the ACCF analysis – to correct the CRA’s failings – would model the costs of projected warming under the business as usual or baseline scenario at greater than zero, given that New Hampshire’s $650 million ski industry will be wiped out by 2100, or would assign a return greater than zero to stepped-up efficiency and conservation investments, or a value greater than zero for future energy technology innovation. Answer: another hang-dog faced no. Given the lack of data, there is no way to assign any number, she said.

I then asked Dr. Thorning whether it would therefore be fair to footnote the baseline scenario GDP and energy cost numbers, with a statement to the effect that the predicted cost of L-W is high because the baseline number is likely to be low, in that the cost of global warming under business as usual is greater than zero. She acknowledged some merit to that before quickly retreating from the room to work her cell phone.

Recommendations for the three future ACCF fora: be sure to have credible economists and clean energy and efficiency experts and developers in the room. Call them on every false, exaggerated and unsupported statement. Talk about what American entrepreneurs are doing right now in the states where the fora are held to make the American economy stronger while reducing the risks of future climate change. Make sure the media is present to witness it.

Waxman, Markey Go After EPA's Supreme Court Avoidance 3

Posted by Warming Law Wed, 12 Mar 2008 21:30:00 GMT

Tomorrow morning, the House Select Committee on Global Warming and Energy Independence will be holding a hearing on the implications of Massachusetts v. EPA nearly one year later. Chairman Edward Markey (D-MA) plans to question EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson on why he’s delayedaction on the EPA’s remand (which might result in another lawsuit). Committee members will also hear from a panel that includes Kansas Secretary of Health and the Environment Roderick Bremby, who made national headlines this fall by utilizing his legal authority under state law to deny permits for two new coal-fired power plants—citing the growing scientific consensus surrounding warming-related impacts and the Court’s ruling in Mass v. EPA to justify his landmark decision. 

The hearing WILL NOT be broadcast online (though it is being videotaped), but Warming Law will be in attendance and might be able to liveblog the proceedings, and will report back later regardless. We’ll be particularly noting whether any members decide to take up the "common sense questions" proposed today as talking points by the Heritage Foundation, which hyperbolically warns that an endangerment finding for CO2 would require the EPA [to] completely de-industrialize the United States." Heritage and the Competitive Enterprise Institute—which has similarly argued that an EPA global warming program would amount to "policy terrorism"—have actively taken credit for Johnson’s recent decision to suddenly halt work on an endangerment finding.

Amidst such boasts of outside influence on EPA, Markey’s counterpart on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the indomitable Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), has started investigating the White House’s apparent interference in short-circuiting an endangerment finding. In a letter sent to Johnson today, Waxman notes on-the-record conversations with senior EPA officials that—combined with Johnson’s public statements up through the last couple of weeks—depict a process that was suddenly halted as it neared completion:

Multiple senior EPA officials [cited directly in this letter] have told the Committee on the record that after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, you assembled a team of 60 to 70 EPA officials to determine whether carbon diioxide emissions endanger healt hand welfare and, if so, to develop regulations reducing CO2 emissions from motor vehicles. According to these officials, you agreed with your staff’s proposal that CO2 emissions from motor vehicles should be reduced and in Decemer forwarded an endangerment finding to the White House and a proposed motor vehicle regulation to the Department of Transportation…

The senior EPA officials who spoke with the Committee did not know what transpired inside the White House of the Department of Transportation or what directions the White House may have given to you. They do know, however, that since you sent the endangerment finding to the White House, "the work on vehicle efforts has stopped." They reported to the committee that the career officials assigned ot the issue have ceased their efforts and have been "awaiting direction" since December.

As per OMB Watch, the letter also pre-emptively rebuts the suggestion that the fuel economy standards passed by Congress in December have any legal impact on EPA’s legal obligations in wake of Mass. v. EPA. Waxman is demanding that EPA provide "copies of the documents relating to the endangerment finding and GHG vehicle rule, including copies of any communications with the White house and other federal agencies about these proposals." Copies of an EPA techinical support document, the proposed endangerment finding, and the proposed vehicle GHG rule are due by this Friday, March 14; all other documents are to be provided by March 28.

It should also be noted that Waxman previously uncovered an improper lobbying effort by the same parties in question here, DOT and the White House, against California’s since-denied application for a waiver to enact its own vehicle GHG standards. Waxman’s oversight into White House influence on that decision also continues, with a letter sent to Johnson on Monday threatening to subpoena missing documents unless they were provided by close-of-business today.

Boxer and Environmental Leaders United on Urgent Need to Address Global Warming 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 12 Mar 2008 13:30:00 GMT

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, will be joined by the heads of America’s leading environmental organizations to discuss the need for action to address the challenge of global warming.

Participants
  • Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman, Environment and Public Works Committee
  • Frances Beinecke, President, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Carl Pope, Executive Director, Sierra Club
  • Gene Karpinski, President, League of Conservation Voters
  • Kevin Knobloch, President, Union of Concerned Scientists

Also participating will be representatives of Environment America, Environmental Defense, Center for International Law, Clean Water Action, National Wildlife Federation, Ocean Conservancy, Pew Environment Group, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and The Wilderness Society.

Enviros, Democrats Respond to Polar Bear Delay 7

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 12 Mar 2008 00:51:00 GMT

Sixty days have now passed since January 8, 2008, when the U.S. Department of the Interior failed to meet its legal deadline to determine whether the polar bear is endangered by global warming, triggering a joint lawsuit over this latest delay from the Center for Biological Diversity, NRDC, and Greenpeace, pursuant to the notice of intent filed in January.

In the intervening months, U.S. Fish and Wildlife director Dale Hall took responsibility for the delay, but two weeks ago he told House appropriators that the decision had been given to Dirk Kempthorne, Secretary of the Interior, for final review.

In addition, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), chair of the House global warming committee, today introduced legislation to block further activity in the lease sale area. This legislation, which does not yet have a bill number, is a revision of his proposed legislation from January, before the lease sale took place. The amended legislation would now prevent the Secretary of the Interior from authorizing any “related activity (including approving any seismic activity, offering any new lease, or approving any exploration or development plan)” until an ESA determination and critical habitat designation is made.

EPA Puts Off "Hard Decision" On CO2 Endangerment Finding, May Face New Lawsuit 5

Posted by Warming Law Tue, 04 Mar 2008 22:02:00 GMT

EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson seems unable to step foot on Capitol Hill to talk about his 2008 budget without getting a ton of questions about California’s waiver denial and EPA’s much-delayed response to Massachusetts v. EPA. Today’s NY Times carries an editorial explaining how the two are linked, citing and drawing out Georgetown Professor Lisa Heinzerling’s observation that EPA’s waiver denial may have inadvertently committed it to an endangerment finding) 

The barrage of questions continued yesterday, courtesy of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and her Appropriations subcommittee. Hill Heat live-blogged the hearing and revealed that Johnson isn’t just personally overwhelmed by all the legal pressure and questioning—he’s explicitly citing it to justify his delayed reaction to the Supreme Court’s remand. To wit, Johnson repeated the claim—previously made when he announced to a House subcommittee that he’d be "taking a step back" from the enandgerment finding to weigh industry’s “concerns”—that his delay is partly justified by a series of petitions and appeals that California and environmental groups have filed in the last several months, seeking the regulation of CO2 emissions from ships, aircraft, off-road vehicles, and new coal-burning power plants under federal jurisdiction.

Each of these actions was largely motivated by EPA’s delay in making an endangerment ruling, and each covers areas that would be affected by such a determination. In other words, Johnson is claiming that in order to respond to legal maneuvers motivated by his hesitancy to act…he must delay action even longer. While this deflection doesn’t carry any legal consequences, another part of Johnson’s insistence that this decision requires an expansive amount of time—perhaps until the end of the Bush administration, as advised by the Heritage Foundation, which also takes credit for inspiring Johnson’s rationale—actually highlights the imminent possibility of yet another lawsuit against EPA.

At issue: Johnson flat-out refused to set a target date yesterday for completing the decision-making process, and would not answer whether any of his staff was even working on the enandgerment evaluation (as opposed to a "myriad of issues" that they are tackling). The latter answer led Senator Feinstein to argue, based on what she’d  evidently been hearing from other sources, that no one other than Johnson himself is weighing the issue.

The legal coalition responsible for initiating Mass. v. EPA will likely beg to differ with this exhaustive process, having notified the Administrator last month that it was prepared to sue over unreasonable delay if Johnson didn’t provide a firm target date by February 27—last Wednesday. Stay tuned…

Sierra Club ED Takes Strong Stand on Cap-and-Trade Legislation 4

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 14 Feb 2008 19:19:00 GMT

The Sierra Club, until today, has stayed on the sidelines during the contretemps over Lieberman-Warner (S. 2191) fueled by a campaign by Friends of the Earth asking Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) to “fix or ditch” the bill. The 1.3 million member organization has now made its position clear.

In an essay posted to Grist’s Gristmill blog this afternoon, Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope delineates clear principles for endorsing climate legislation, all of which Lieberman-Warner currently fails to satisfy:

  • Reductions in total emissions on the order of 80 percent by 2050 and 20 percent by 2020
  • All allowances should be auctioned or otherwise used to benefit the public
  • Revenue should fund “highest-value solutions”, not coal or nuclear energy
  • Ensure a just transition for workers, protect vulnerable groups, and help induce world action

He compares the current political situation to the one that led to the Clean Air Act in 1971, saying that “Maine Sen. Edmund Muskie, fearing that industry would block him on other points, acceded” to the industry insistence to grandfather old plants, and that environmentalists like the 25-year-old Pope went along.

He then responds to Sen. Barbara Boxer and advocates of pushing a climate bill this year hell or high water:
Fast-forward to present day: the carbon industries are lobbying to get a deal done this year that would give away carbon permits free of charge to existing polluters – bribing the sluggish, and slowing down innovation. And politicians are telling us that while it would be better to auction these permits and make polluters pay for putting carbon dioxide into our atmosphere, creating that market unfortunately gets in the way of the politics. We are being urged to compromise – to put a system in place quickly, even if it is the wrong system.

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