EPA Investigating Legality of Coal River Mountain Destruction

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 05 Nov 2009 22:53:00 GMT

West Virginia residents have spent years battling the loss of Coal River Mountain to mountaintop removal mining. At the end of October, Massey Energy began dynamiting at the site. Opponents of the mountain’s destruction say the Environmental Protection Agency has the full authority and legal and moral obligation under the Clean Water Act to preserve the ecosystem and clean waters of the mountain, the last untouched peak in Coal River Valley. When asked for comment by Hill Heat, EPA spokesman Brendan Gilfillan responded:
EPA is closely examining the company’s compliance with all legal requirements.

As the EPA conducts its legal investigation, the blasting continues.

An Incomplete List of Senate Holds on Obama Administration Nominees 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 02 Nov 2009 17:02:00 GMT

Active holds are bolded.

White House
  • Nancy Sutley, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman – John Barrasso (R-Wyo.)
  • Cass Sunstein, OIRA director – Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.)
  • John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy – Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), anonymous
Department of Energy
  • Richard Newell, administrator of the Energy Information Administration – John McCain (R-Ariz.)
  • Ines Triay, assistant secretary of environmental management – Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)
  • Kristina Johnson, undersecretary for energy – Kyl
  • Steven Koonin, undersecretary for science – Kyl
  • Scott Blake Harris, general counsel – Kyl
Environmental Protection Agency
  • Lisa Jackson, administrator – Barrasso
  • Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for air and radiation – Barrasso
  • Robert Perciasepe, deputy administrator – George Voinovich (R-Ohio)
Interior
  • David Hayes, deputy secretary – Robert Bennett (R-Utah), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
  • Hilary Tompkins, solicitor – Bennett, Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), and other anonymous Rs
  • Jon Jarvis, National Park Service director – Coburn
  • Wilma Lewis, assistant secretary for land and mineral management – McCain
  • Robert Abbey, Bureau of Land Management administrator – McCain
  • Joseph Pizarchik, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement – anonymous D
State
  • Harold Koh, legal adviser to the State Department – Jim DeMint (R-S.C.)
  • Susan Burk, Special Representative for Non-Proliferation – DeMint
  • Thomas Shannon Jr., ambassador to Brazil – DeMint, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
  • Ellen Tauscher, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security – Kyl, released June 25
  • Arturo Valenzuela, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs – DeMint
Labor
  • Hilda Solis, Secretary of Labor – anonymous R
  • Craig Becker, National Labor Relations Board – McCain
Commerce
  • Jane Lubchenco, director of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Menendez, anonymous
Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • Craig Fugate, director – David Vitter (R-La.), released May 12
Commodity Futures Trading Commission
  • Gary Gensler, chairman – Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), released May 14

Inhofe Calls for Criminal Investigation into Why EPA 'Suppressed' a Global Warming Denier

Posted by Wonk Room Tue, 30 Jun 2009 13:09:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

Fox News Channel’s Gregg Jarrett introduced a “very big story” that the Environmental Protection Agency “intentionally buried a study challenging some of Uncle Sam’s global warming research.” Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) claimed the report, written by economist Alan Carlin of EPA’s National Center for Environmental Economics, vindicates his belief that man-made global warming is the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people”:
The thing is phony. I feel so good about being redeemed after all of these years, because they have been throwing this thing in my face since 1998 when we realized that all of those scientists that Al Gore had lined up – and I’m talking about Claude Allegre in France, David Bellamy in UK, and Nir Shaviv in Israel – all of them used to be on his side. They all said, “Wait a minute, this science is not right.” That’s exactly what Allen Carlin said. We’ve already started a investigation.
Watch it:

When asked if there should be a criminal investigation, Inhofe replied, “There could be and there probably should be.” Continuing his attack, he claimed that the EPA “have been suppressing science and coming out with what they want people to say. You might remember – I talked to you about it on this station. When I first realized that this thing was a hoax and I made the statement that the notion that man-made gases, anthropogenic gases, CO2 cause global warming, it is probably the greatest hoax ever perpetrated.”

What Fox News, Inhofe, and right-wing bloggers are promoting as a suppressed EPA report is nothing of the kind. Carlin’s paper, released by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (“CO2: they call it pollution, we call it Life“), is a hodgepodge of widely discredited pseudoscience. Carlin was given permission by the NCEE to cobble the paper together even though he is not a climate researcher, and “the document he submitted was reviewed by his peers and agency scientists.”

The Carlin document cites the usual array of global warming deniers, including Joe D’Aleo, Don Easterbrook, William Gray, Christopher Monckton, Fred Singer, and Roy Spencer – all of whom worked with Sen. Inhofe’s former aide Marc Morano to disseminate denials of climate science. Carlin’s references come from denier blogs such as ICECAP.us and Watts Up With That, and plagiarizes publications from the Heartland Institute, the Science & Environmental Policy Project, and the Friends of Science Society, all conservative front groups. RealClimate’s Gavin Schmidt summarizes the paper as “a ragbag collection of un-peer reviewed web pages, an unhealthy dose of sunstroke, a dash of astrology and more cherries than you can poke a cocktail stick at.”

Similarly, although the 76-year-old botanist David Bellamy, 72-year-old geochemist Claude Allegre, and 32-year-old astrophysicist Nir Shaviv publicly question man-made global warming, they represent a steadily dwindling number of scientists, few of any of which actively study climate change, that argue fossil fuel emissions are not warming the planet.

Democrats on the Waxman-Markey Fence Worried about RES, Allocations

Posted by SolveClimate Thu, 23 Apr 2009 17:02:00 GMT

By SolveClimate’s Stacy Morford.

The usual court jesters shot off verbal fireworks as a week of hearings got underway on the Waxman-Markey climate bill, but the real attention on Capitol Hill was tuned to a few moderate Democrats who have the power to make or break the bill.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman acknowledged their concerns this morning as EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood were being questioned by the committee.

Praising one of those moderates, former committee chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.), Waxman said he had hoped to see his legislation pass with something like the committee’s 42-1 vote that had secured amendments to the Clean Air Act in 1990. But he added,

“I have my suspicions after listening to the opening statements here that we may not be able to succeed in the same way.”

The statements and questions so far from the committee’s moderate Democrats suggest that winning enough votes will likely mean rewriting the bill’s proposed renewable energy standard to account for regional differences. It may also require free emissions permits and other aid for industries – particularly automotive and energy – that will need to evolve to survive in a carbon-constrained world.

The RES currently proposed in the draft legislation would require utilities to derive 25 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2025.

Mike Ross (D-Ark.) and Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) both expressed concerns that that level would penalize states like theirs that lack the wind power of Texas and the sunshine and geothermal reserves of California. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) said his state could probably reach its current target of 15 percent by 2025, and possibly do better if nuclear and biomass could count, but 25 percent was out of the question.

Jim Matheson (D-Utah) asked Chu if he thought Congress would be overprescribing if it required both an emissions cap and a national renewable energy standard.

Chu has been outspoken in his desire to restore the United States’ place as the world’s leader in energy technology. The RES, he said, is a necessary interim driver of innovation and renewable energy use. The cap won’t start until 2012, and industry will need time to adjust. The RES, meanwhile, will drive renewable energy development by guaranteeing a marketplace. Energy executives who testified later in the day echoed that argument, saying federal rules would create stability and expectations that businesses could bank on.

That doesn’t mean that that the RES has to be uniform nationwide, though. A few committee members questioned whether Congress could instead require each state to set a minimum standard, which could then be met in ways tailored to that state’s own resource mix. Twenty-eight states already have renewable energy standards.

Dingell also questioned the “aggressive nature of the renewable electrical standard,” but he and Gene Green (D-Texas) were more focused on aid for industries, particularly the U.S. automakers and refiners.

Green, worried about job losses in the Houston ship channel area that he represents, urged the committee to provide ample free emissions allowances from the trading program for energy-intensive industries, as well as financial support for consumers facing higher electricity prices.

“We must protect our energy–intensive industries, including refineries, so we do not simply export those jobs abroad to nation without carbon controls and lax environmental regulations,” Green told the committee.

Dingell called for doubling the incentives for the Department of Energy’s advanced technology vehicle incentives programs to help the auto industry in his home state. He added:

“Of course, the question of auction versus allocation still lies before us, and that is a very serious question. Some might say ‘deal breaker’ for many members.”

The auction details from the cap-and-trade portion of the bill have yet to hammered out, which has created an easy target for fiscal fear mongering among opponents. Without knowing how the money from cap-and-trade auctions would be distributed, the Congressional Budget Office can’t accurately gauge the bill’s financial impact.

Jackson offered the committee the EPA’s newly released cost assessment: The energy bill for an average family would rise between $98 and $140 per year.

However, the EPA’s analysis looked only at the cap-and-trade portion of the bill, and with so many details yet to be determined by the committee, the EPA had to make assumptions about the price of carbon ($13-17 per ton in 2015) and the percentage of revenue that would be returned to consumers (40 percent).

The 40 percent rebate for consumers, a number recommended by the bill’s authors, did offer more insight into how Waxman and Markey might propose divvying up the revenues, but it was still only an estimate.

The committee’s 23 Republican members asked Waxman in a letter this week for more hearings to flesh out the details before the committee begins marking up the legislation for a vote.

“Your discussion draft lacks any decision on permit allocations versus auctions,” they wrote. “The manner in which you will address this issue is the cornerstone of the legislation; without it the bill is simply not finished and not ripe to be marked up or accurately discussed in the context of a hearing.”

In the absence of stronger data, some opponents have resorted to inventing their own numbers.

Two of the most outspoken opponents of the bill – Reps. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) – suggested that the lack of details was a conspiracy to prevent the committee from knowing the true cost. They repeated the GOP’s manipulation of a recent MIT study, saying the increase would be $3,100, a number the study’s own author says is 10 times too high.

It was a fellow Republican, LaHood, who spoke up today about the continued abuse of the MIT study.

LaHood held up a letter from the study’s author correcting the GOP’s use of his numbers. But when he asked to enter the letter into the committee record, Shimkus objected. If the MIT letter was submitted, then Shimkus wanted to submit a story written by the Weekly Standard, too. Waxman agreed to both.

Shimkus was clearly playing to the cameras this morning. He vowed that “those of us who want jobs are going to try to defeat this bill” and went on to declare cap-and-trade a greater danger than terrorism:

“I see this as the largest assault on democracy and freedom in this country as I’ve ever experienced. I’ve lived through some tough times in Congress. I’ve seen two wars, terrorist attacks. I fear this more than all of the above.”

Like it or not, economics will be the issue for members of Congress. Their re-election campaigns are built on numbers – how many jobs they created, how much federal bacon they brought home – and their campaigns are always on.

WonkLine: April 22, 2009

Posted by Wonk Room Wed, 22 Apr 2009 14:14:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

turbine.jpg

On Earth Day, President Obama is visiting a “wind turbine manufacturer in Iowa” to “champion his push to cap greenhouse gas emissions and boost renewable alternatives to fossil fuels,” as top officials testify before Congress on behalf of action on green jobs for a green future.

Oil-patch and Blue Dog Democrats like Gene Green (D-TX) and Jim Matheson (D-UT) yesterday called for subsidies for the oil and nuclear industries to be added to the Waxman-Markey clean energy bill, while criticizing federal renewable energy and energy efficiency standards.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) criticized the Environmental Protection Agency for taking initial steps to obey a Supreme Court mandate to regulate global warming pollution, saying, “if alphabet agencies can do what they want without regard to what Congress believes, there’s something wrong with the system.”

EPA Analysis: Waxman-Markey Could 'Play a Critical Role in the American Economic Recovery and Job Growth'

Posted by Wonk Room Tue, 21 Apr 2009 20:14:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

EPA Preliminary Analysis
EPA’s Waxman-Markey Discussion Draft Preliminary Analysis: Executive Summary, Full Analysis
As Congressional hearings on draft green economy legislation begin, the Environmental Protection Agency has found that the bill will “play a critical role in the American economic recovery and job growth.” The initial EPA analysis, based on the draft of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) released by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), looks only at the effects of the cap-and-trade “market-based emissions program,” without modeling the effects of the complementary renewable energy and energy efficiency standards in this comprehensive legislation. Despite the limited review, the EPA has found that Waxman-Markey would “enable American workers to serve in a central role in our clean energy transformation”:
The draft bill would establish a wide range of policies to promote the development and deployment of new clean energy technologies that would fundamentally change the way we produce, deliver, and use energy. The bill would: (1) advance energy efficiency and reduce reliance on oil; (2) stimulate innovation in clean coal technology to ensure that coal remains an important part of the U.S. energy portfolio by capturing harmful greenhouse gas emissions before they enter the atmosphere; (3) accelerate the use of renewable sources of energy, including biomass, wind, solar, and geothermal; (4) create strong demand for a domestic manufacturing market for these next generation technologies that will enable American workers to serve in a central role in our clean energy transformation; and (5) play a critical role in the American economic recovery and job growth – from retooling shuttered manufacturing plants to make wind turbines, to using equipment and expertise in drilling for oil to develop clean energy from underground geothermal sources, to tapping into American ingenuity to engineer coal-fired power plants that do not contribute to climate change.
The ACES Act does not address the question of how allocate the revenues of a carbon market auction. Industry executives and conservative allies like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) are calling for free giveaways to polluters. However, the EPA analysis finds that polluter giveaways are “highly regressive.” A full auction of permits and equitable returns, however, allows for working families to come out ahead:
Assuming that the bulk of the revenues from the program are returned to households, the cap-and-trade policy has a relatively modest impact on U.S. consumers. . . . Returning the revenues in this fashion could make the median household, and those living at lower ends of the income distribution, better off than they would be without the program.

The EPA modeling finds that a significant proportion of the required emissions reductions in Waxman-Markey are achieved through the use of one billion tons of international offsets a year. Because of the use of offsets, the U.S. electricity sector is expected to produce 10% fewer greenhouse gas emissions from 2010 to 2025, although the overall cap declines by over 25 percent.

Total US GHG Emissions & Sources of Abatement
EPA emissions analysis
Daniel J. Weiss, Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress:
The EPA analysis confirms that the American Clean Energy and Security Act will create jobs in the clean energy industry, benefit consumers, slash oil use, and cut pollution. This analysis disproves the false claims made by those who want to continue our existing energy policies.
The Environmental Defense Fund:
EPA’s new analysis shows that the market-based cap on carbon contained in the American Clean Energy and Security Act can be met for $98 to $140 per year for the average American household. Those estimates only consider the costs of reducing global warming pollution, and do not take into account the benefits of action.

Public Hearing on Proposed Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 06 Apr 2009 13:00:00 GMT

The first of the two public hearings on its proposed mandatory registry for greenhouse gases will be held Monday, April 6, 2009, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Tuesday, April 7, 2009, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in Arlington, Virginia. Logistical information to facilitate your attendance is provided below. Pre-registration especially for those wishing to make public comments is recommended due to time and capacity limitations. All visitors will need to go through security and present a valid photo identification, such as a driver’s license. Once you arrive in the lobby level, you will be directed to the hearing’s location. EPA will also web stream the public hearing:

Hearing Location

Environmental Protection Agency Conference Center — Lobby Level
One Potomac Yard (South Building)
2777 S. Crystal Drive
Arlington, VA 22202

For information on access or services for individuals with disabilities, and to request accommodation of a disability, please contact Carole Cook at 202-343-9263 or via email at cook.carole@epa.gov at least 10 days prior to the meeting to provide ample time to process your request.

EPA To Hold Public Hearings On Greenhouse Gas Registry

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 03 Apr 2009 18:22:00 GMT

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it will hold a two-day public hearing next week in Arlington, Va. on its “proposal for the first comprehensive national system for reporting emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases produced by major sources in the United States.”

The hearing will take place Monday and Tuesday, April 6 and 7 from 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the EPA Potomac Yard South Conference Center, 2777 Crystal Drive, Room S-1204, Arlington, VA 22202. Daily parking is available in the building and photo ID is required.

Georgetown State-Federal Climate Resource Center Kickoff

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 23 Feb 2009 22:00:00 GMT

The kickoff of the Georgetown State-Federal Climate Resource Center at Georgetown Law will take place on Monday, February 23, 2009, from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. on the 12th Floor of the Gewirz Student Center, located on the Georgetown Law campus at 120 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C.

Gov. Chris Gregoire (D-Wash.) and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-Kan.) will deliver remarks at 5:30 p.m. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson will speak at 6:30 p.m.

Robert Sussman To Be EPA Senior Policy Counsel

Posted by Wonk Room Fri, 06 Feb 2009 15:53:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

Robert SussmanThe Washington Post’s Al Kamen reports Center for American Progress senior fellow Robert Sussman “is returning to the Environmental Protection Agency” as “senior policy counsel to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, advising her on climate and environmental issues across the agency.” An official announcement is expected shortly. Before joining the Center for American Progress, Sussman was the Deputy Administrator during the Clinton administration, serving under Carol Browner, now President Obama’s White House energy and environment adviser.

Sussman was a regular blogger for CAP’s Wonk Room, writing on the Mary Gade scandal, the Bush administration, and climate legislation. Sussman challenged the argument that laws like the Clean Air Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Endangered Species Act are not applicable to the threat of global warming:
The truth is that our environmental laws were not written to be static. They are flexible tools to address unanticipated or emerging problems that science identifies over time.

Sussman’s work for the Center for American Progress highlighted that approach. He crafted recommendations for regulatory and funding mechanisms to spur the development of carbon capture and sequestration technology for coal plants, “to reconcile reliance on coal for electricity with the need to reduce the threat of global warming.”

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