Senators Work to Strengthen American Clean Energy And Security Act

Posted by Wonk Room Tue, 25 Aug 2009 11:20:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

Kerry: Yes to Climate ActionEven as their colleagues place roadblocks on energy reform, several members of the U.S. Senate are attempting to strengthen the American Clean Energy and Security Act, the green economy legislation passed by the House of Representatives this June. As Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) take the lead to write the Senate draft, many of their fellow senators have proposed specific policy improvements:

  • EMISSIONS LIMITS: Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) are calling for the legislation to strengthen its 2020 target for greenhouse pollution reductions to 20 percent below 2005 levels, instead of the current 17 percent target. “I like the House bill, don’t get me wrong,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD). “But I think we can do better.” Lautenberg told reporters: “That’s the objective, as far as I’m concerned, because the glide path has to be established that enables us to get to 80 percent in 2050. You can’t get there unless you start aggressively pushing.”
  • GREEN TRANSPORTATION: Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) is working to strengthen the bill’s funding for green transportation, pushing language that would “devote a guaranteed share of revenues from carbon regulation to transit, bike paths, and other green modes of transport.” The Clean, Low-Emission, Affordable, New Transportation Efficiency Act (S. 575 / H.R. 1329) would auction ten percent of carbon market allowances for clean transit improvement. Senators Arlen Specter (D-PA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Ben Cardin (D-MD) have co-sponsored the legislation.
  • COAL POLLUTION: Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) is working with Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to add language to “regulate power plant emissions of mercury, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide.”
  • CARBON MARKET REGULATION: Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) have introduced legislation to “prevent Enron-like fraud, manipulation and excessive speculation” in the carbon market that the ACES Act would establish. Boxer has told reporters she intends to include the Feinstein-Snowe language in her legislation.
  • RENEWABLE STANDARD: In February, Sens. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Mark Udall (D-CO) introduced legislation (S. 433) to set a federal standard of 25% renewable electricity by 2025, much stronger than the House bill. “The bill’s not perfect, but it is a beginning,” Mark Udall recently told reporters. “The Senate now has to work its bill, and there are a number of elements we could put in the Senate bill that would improve the House bill including passing a [stronger] renewable electricity standard for the nation.” Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), John Kerry (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have cosponsored the legislation.
  • GREEN MANUFACTURING JOBS: Sen. Sherrod Brown’s (D-OH) Investments for Manufacturing Progress and Clean Technology (IMPACT) Act creates a “$30 billion Manufacturing Revolving Loan Fund to help small and medium-sized manufacturers finance retooling, shift design, and improve energy efficiency.” The IMPACT Act has been added to the Senate legislation. Ten Democratic senators, led by Sens. Brown and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), have urged President Obama to ensure the legislation includes “strong provisions to ensure the strength and viability of domestic manufacturing,” including a “border adjustment mechanism” if “other major carbon emitting countries fail to commit to an international agreement requiring commensurate action on climate change.” Brown and Stabenow are supported by Sens. Russ Feingold (D-WI), Carl Levin (D-MI), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Robert Casey (D-PA), Arlen Specter (D-PA), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Robert Byrd (D-VW), and Al Franken (D-MN).

A number of senators have committed to passing strong climate and clean energy legislation, including Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), who is “optimistic we can turn energy potential into reality and help create new job opportunities at home by producing more clean energy in the United States.” After telling a global warming skeptic that “climate change is very real,” Stabenow was eviscerated by the right wing. Both Brown and Specter have committed to voting against a Republican filibuster of climate legislation—a key move for President Obama’s progressive energy agenda.

After Boxer introduces her draft of the legislation in the beginning of September, the bill must pass out of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which has a strong Democratic majority with many liberal Democrats. “The move on the Senate floor will be rightward,” Sen. Whitehouse noted. “And therefore, we’ve got to do our job to keep as many possibilities open for the floor as possible.”

Other senators have committed to passing strong climate and clean energy legislation, including Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), who is “optimistic we can turn energy potential into reality and help create new job opportunities at home by producing more clean energy in the United States.” Both Brown and Specter have committed to voting against a Republican filibuster of climate legislation—a key move for President Obama’s progressive energy agenda.

After Boxer introduces her draft of the legislation in the beginning of September, the bill must pass out of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which has a strong Democratic majority with many liberal Democrats. “The move on the Senate floor will be rightward,” Sen. Whitehouse noted. “And therefore, we’ve got to do our job to keep as many possibilities open for the floor as possible.”

Senate Watch: Boxer, Hutchison, Inhofe, McCain, Stabenow, Udall

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 24 Aug 2009 17:50:00 GMT

Barbara Boxer (D-CA)

Washington Post As we are moving to address some of our nation’s great challenges – revitalizing our economy, putting Americans back to work and passing health insurance reform – scientists are telling us we have a short window to take the steps that are needed to avoid the ravages of global warming. We must also act quickly to ensure America leads the world in clean energy technology. We need to confront all of these issues; we don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing. By creating powerful incentives for clean energy, the bill that Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and I will introduce in September will restore our economy and create jobs at home while reducing carbon pollution and making us less dependent on foreign oil. John Doerr – one of the nation’s leading venture capitalists, who helped launch Google and—has predicted that the investment capital that will flow into clean energy will dwarf the amount invested in high-tech and biotech combined. It will create millions of jobs in America – building wind turbines, installing solar panels on homes and producing a new fleet of electric and hybrid vehicles. We can successfully address all of these challenges. Our forebears have set the pace ever since our nation was founded. President Obama has reminded us that America built the transcontinental railroad and established the National Academy of Sciences in the midst of the Civil War. In the 1960s, we passed historic civil rights legislation even as we took on the challenge of going to the moon. At the end of the day, leaders have to lead when action is needed.

Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)

Washington Post Cap-and-trade legislation will fail under its own weight, just like health-care legislation. Each massive, misguided policy is being doggedly pushed by the Obama administration and the Democratic congressional leadership in a narrow, partisan fashion that will contribute to and ensure its failure. We could forecast the American outrage, based on past experience with these types of proposals, and if the Democrats succeed in forcing these bad policies on American families, they will be held accountable by the public. The administration’s health-reform proposal would nationalize and bureaucratize health care in America. Cap-and-trade, meanwhile, will kill 2 million American jobs; shrink the household incomes of average Americans by more than $1,000 annually; and penalize the industries that produce our nation’s energy – at a time when we are already concerned about the high costs of fuel and utilities. It will increase our dependence on foreign energy imports, which is already at an astounding 60 percent. We have seen such proposals before, and the good news is that they have failed miserably because Americans are well informed and understand how they could impact their lives.

James Inhofe (R-OK)

Washington Post As lawmakers return to Washington and assess the fiery backlash of constituent opposition to government-run health care, those mired in the thick of the climate change debate are wondering: What does it all mean for us? The warring factions over climate policy should step back and try to discern whether constituents are signaling a more basic distrust of new government schemes. Polling data from the past several months indicates that such public distrust is real, deep and widespread. This means the Democrats’ government-run, cap-and-trade scheme – in fact, an energy tax that extends into every corner of American life – now faces an even higher hurdle, including growing opposition from many Democrats in the Senate. Such distrust will only grow if Democrats insist, as they did in the House, on crafting climate legislation in their inner sanctums, with no time for serious public input and debate. And this is exactly the course being drawn in the Senate. Still, Washington’s appetite for spending, taxing and regulating – cap-and trade contains elements of each – is boundless. So, despite having public opinion on our side, those opposed to cap-and-trade are facing a monumental battle this fall in the Senate. There will be a mad race for 60 votes, and the outcome will reverberate beyond 2010.

John McCain (R-AZ)

9 News “I think the evidence is overwhelming that climate change is taking place, and it is damaging our national parks,” said Sen. John McCain. . . Senator McCain said he would have a difficult time supporting the bill if it doesn’t increase the nation’s use of nuclear energy. “Nuclear power has to be a part of any real way of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels,” said McCain.

The Coloradoan “All you have to do is look around and see the trees dying because of the pine beetle,” said McCain,R-Ariz.

This Week MCCAIN: I think the threat is serious here. We’ve seen increased temperatures, which has had impact on the wildlife, on the flora and fauna, on the Colorado River itself, which we are seeing less and less of. We are in serious drought conditions. Our parks have very fragile ecology here. And, frankly, when you’re in this driest area anyway, then they’re even more fragile. So I think that part of the impact of climate change on our national parks is—well, you know, they’re going to have to change the name of Glacier National Park because the glaciers are going away.

STEPHANOPOULOS: In the past, you’ve been supportive of legislation to deal with greenhouse gas emissions, with cap-and-trade. What about the current legislation that’s coming out of the House now, moving to the Senate? They’ve met a lot of your objections about not giving away the allowances. Is this something that you can support?

MCCAIN: Well, to support a 1,400-page piece of legislation to start with is always difficult for me, but I believe that the only way we’re going to truly reduce greenhouse gas emissions effectively is the nuclear power. We have got to build 100 nuclear power plants in the next 20 years. We can do that. Right now, the administration’s position is against storage and they’re against recycling of spent nuclear fuel. I can’t support a genuine reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, unless nuclear power is a key part of it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you’ve been for it in past.

MCCAIN: I’ve been for – and nuclear power – assuming that nuclear power would be a key part of it. I mean, you can’t get there from here. The only country that’s really making its Kyoto goals is France, where 80 percent of their electricity is generated by nuclear power.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you’d be willing to go along with cap-and- trade, if it were part of a comprehensive deal that included more…

MCCAIN: Well, that would have to be part of it. And second of all, in any 1,400-page piece of legislation, you put in a lot of special deals for a lot of special interests. We know what happened there. The bazaar was open in the House of Representatives, so obviously, I would have to want to do away with a whole lot of that. But I think climate change is real, and I would be glad to sit down and try to work, as I have in the past, across the aisle on this issue.

Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Detroit News “Climate change, I believe, is very real. The overwhelming evidence is it doesn’t show up always. We are seeing temperatures go up, we’re seeing the ice caps melting. But it creates volatility. You can see it in the storms that we have. I feel it in flying. I fly twice a week. And over the years, the storms are more volatile. So it’s not just about, ‘It’s getting hotter.’ In some places it’s hotter, in some places it’s colder, some places – The volatility that comes with the change in temperatures . . . We are paying the price in more hurricanes and tornadoes.”

Mark Udall (D-CO)

9 News “We ought to find ways to harness the sun and the wind, create new kinds of biofuels and upgrade our nuclear power capabilities,” said Sen. Udall. . . . “The bill’s not perfect, but it is a beginning,” said Udall. “The Senate now has to work its bill, and there are a number of elements we could put in the Senate bill that would improve the House bill including passing a renewable electricity standard for the nation.”

Denver Post “I agree with Sen. McCain that nuclear power has to part of the mix,” Udall said. “It’s clear that if we want to respond to climate change, nuclear energy has to be part of the solution.”

Senate Watch: Bennet, Bingaman, Bond, Boxer, Brown, Cantwell, Carper, Grassley, Inhofe, Kerry, Shelby, Stabenow, Voinovich, Whitehouse, Wyden

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 07 Aug 2009 15:16:00 GMT

Michael Bennet (D-CO)

E&E News “I’d like to hear what they have to say about it before I shoot my mouth off,” Bennet’s signed on as co-sponsor to a bill from Sen. Tom Udall, (D-N.M.) and Udall of Colorado that would enact a 25-percent-by-2025 renewable electricity standard. “It’s been an enormous positive for Colorado,” Bennet said. “The market adapted. Our evidence is that it works.” When it comes to Colorado’s fossil fuels, Bennet for now is stepping behind natural gas, calling for it to have a bigger role in the Senate bill. “It was essentially absent from the House bill,” Bennet said. “I’d like to know why that is.” Bennet said he also sees “opportunities to tie together natural gas with intermittent power sources like sun and wind.” “I don’t have any specifics today,” Bennet said about what he wants to see. “I’m talking with people in the environmental community and natural gas people and hearing what their ideas are.” “In Colorado now we’re confronting these issues because of the water shortages that we have,” Bennet said. “If we are going to be able to assure that another generation of Coloradans are able to farm, or one after that, we need some answers to these questions how do we preserve our water resources.”

Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)

E&E News Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) has long advocated price controls as part of a cap-and-trade bill, including a “safety valve” in previous versions of his own. “I think it’s something that makes a lot of sense to look at,” Bingaman said. “These cap-and-trade bills have so many pieces,” Bingaman said. “I don’t know that you can point to one thing and say, ‘Stick that in and everyone jumps on board.’ I think it’s much more complicated than that.”

Kit Bond (R-MO)

E&E News Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) complained during an EPW Committee hearing yesterday about comments from Boxer and Kerry that they may not even be putting out allocation language with their draft bill in early September. “That troubles me a great deal,” Bond said. “We can’t leave these allocations blank, placeholders, if we’re going to give Americans a fair, open and transparent view of the legislation.”

Barbara Boxer (D-CA)

E&E News Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is considering a “price collar” for her global warming bill that could help to curb the economic costs from a cap-and-trade program. “I don’t know why we can’t consider this as one more way to give more certainty,” Boxer said during a hearing today. “I’m looking at it, is what I’m saying.”

Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

E&E News Among other things, the senators said they would seek a “border adjustment mechanism” that could slap trade sanctions on carbon-intensive goods from developing countries that do not have strong enough climate policies. “In the absence of an adequate international agreement, a border measure could help to prevent countries from responding to climate change less rigorously than the United States and undercutting the effectiveness of our climate policy by shifting, rather than reducing, greenhouse gas emissions,” the senators wrote. Other Senators that signed on: Russ Feingold (D-WI), Carl Levin (D-MI), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Robert Casey (D-PA), Arlen Specter (D-PA), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Robert Byrd (D-WV), Al Franken (D-MN)

New York Times As Congress considers energy and climate legislation,” the senators wrote, “it is important that such a bill include provisions to maintain a level playing field for American manufacturing.” “It is essential that any clean energy legislation not only address the crisis of climate change, but include strong provisions to ensure the strength and viability of domestic manufacturing,” the letter said.

Maria Cantwell (D-WA)

E&E News “For economic reasons, national security reasons and environmental reasons, we cannot allow ourselves to remain dependent on foreign oil,” Cantwell said in a statement. “Biodiesel is an extremely efficient fuel that helps reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil and can play a constructive role in addressing the issue of climate change. In order to provide this important industry with certainty and predictability, Congress must act quickly to extend and reform this valuable tax credit.”

Press release “Last year, we all saw the devastating effects that $140 per barrel oil had on our economy and American families,” said Cantwell.

Tom Carper (D-DE)

E&E News “Among my top priorities was to be sure that we not only address challenges that carbon dioxide poses to our planet, but sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide and mercury, “I want to be practical,” Carper said. “In the end, I’m interested in outcome, in results. We have too many people whose health is damaged by these emissions, young and old, and whose lives are really threatened.”

Charles Grassley (R-IA)

E&E News Finance Committee ranking member Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) on Tuesday reminded senators that the Obama administration pressed hard at the start of the year for a 100 percent auction of the emission credits—only to back down as the House tackled the issue in the spring. “The administration clearly has strong feelings on the topic, and this committee will soon have to draw its own conclusions on the same topic,” he said.

Press release America is trying to kick its addiction to foreign oil, and biodiesel is part of the cure,” Grassley said. “The more we can encourage domestic production and meet demand, the better off we’ll be economically, environmentally, and geopolitically. This legislation simplifies the tax credit for producers. It also gives investors predictability so they’ll be more likely to put their money into biodiesel production.”

James Inhofe (R-OK)

E&E News “In effect, EPA has refused to provide members of Congress, as they prepare for meetings and events with their constituents over the August recess, with critical information on the Waxman-Markey energy tax and how it will affect jobs in the Midwest, South, and Great Plains, as well as food, gasoline, and electricity prices for all American consumers,” Inhofe said in a statement. Inhofe added that additional analysis of the House bill was needed despite EPA’s plans to analyze future legislation. “We asked for an analysis of the Waxman-Markey bill, which would be the House position in a potential conference committee,” Inhofe said. “Thus the economic consequences of the bill are critical for senators to understand.”

John Kerry (D-MA)

E&E News So what if the two committees do produce separate climate bills? Kerry said it would not be a problem, citing the different Senate health care bills that are emerging from the Finance and Health committees. “You work to put them together,” he said. “That’s the nature of legislating. it’s not unusual around here.”

Richard Shelby (R-AL)

E&E News “The cash-for-clunkers program is simply another bailout to prop up a struggling industry wrapped in the political guise of an environmentally friendly program.”

George Voinovich (R-OH)

E&E News Voinovich said yesterday that he will not release a procedural “hold” on the EPA deputy administrator nominee until EPA completes a new analysis of the House bill. Voinovich has been blocking Robert Perciasepe’s confirmation since last month over concerns about EPA’s analysis. “My attitude is that I want them to do another evaluation, because the real issue here is what’s the economic impact that all of this is going to have and the potential because it’s going to really color the judgment of people on whether they can support the bill,” he said.

Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

E&E News “I wouldn’t go so far as to characterize it as a problem,” Whitehouse said. “I’d characterize it more as a process than a problem.” Yet Whitehouse also declined to say which panel he would prefer to see with the leading voice on allocations. “As long as this committee has a significant role, that’s all at present I see as fair to ask for,” he said. “I’m not disputing that the Finance Committee has a role. Working side by side, I think we can work our way though the uncertainties of not being on territory with established boundary lines.”

Rob Wyden (D-OR)

E&E News “The tax code has fueled an explosion of speculators who are distorting oil and gas markets and driving up prices for everybody,” Wyden said in a statement. “If speculators are truly in the markets and are wrecking havoc with oil and gas prices, this bill will do away with their tax subsidies and cause many to leave,” Wyden said in a floor speech. “It deflates the speculative balloon of artificially inflated profits that has made this investment arena so attractive. If speculators are not a problem, then this bill will help prove the theory that the wild swings in oil prices of the past year truly can be blamed on supply and demand.” Wyden said his bill offers a “bottom line up” approach to tackling price volatility and excessive speculation in the energy markets that some blame for crude oil reaching nearly $150 a barrel last summer.

Senate Watch: Bond, Baucus, Carper, Grassley, Lincoln, Rockefeller, Udall

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 05 Aug 2009 22:37:00 GMT

Kit Bond (R-MO)

“E&E News’: Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) criticized the power companies for even trying to negotiate with congressional Democrats. Either way, he said, the electric utilities lose. “That’s bargaining with somebody on how they’re going to hang you,” Bond said. “They’ll hang you with minimal pain, or they’ll torture you to death.”

Max Baucus (D-MT)

E&E News “So let us see if we can figure out how to distribute emission allowances in a way that one might call just,” Baucus said at a hearing on allocations today. “Let us see if we can figure out how to give all Americans what they deserve.” “The House bill provided solid relief to low-income Americans through these means,” he said. “The Senate should match it, or build on it.” “I don’t want to prejudge at this point,” he said. “I just want to take a good, strong, hard, fresh look at allowances to see what makes sense. Everything can be improved upon.”

CQ “I doubt it’ll be major. There’ll be some,” Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus , D-Mont., said Tuesday, when asked about changes to the allocation formula.

WV Metro News “There are a number of ways to use allowance revenues to mitigate the cost of climate legislation on consumers and businesses,” Senator Baucus said.  “For example, Congress could use the money from auctioning allowances to cut taxes by cutting marginal rates, by cutting capital gains rates, by cutting payroll taxes or by doing all of the above.”

ENews USA He said, “Economists expect that these allowances will have a value, like cash. Thus, many argue that the government should not just give these allowances away. Many argue that the government should auction them, and return the proceeds to consumers. Others argue that the government should allocate a portion of the allowances to regulated companies. Doing so would soften the effects of putting a price on carbon.” . . . “Allowances will have significant value. In 2012, the first year of the program in the House‐passed bill, the Congressional Budget Office [CBO] puts their value at about $60 billion. For the period of 2010 to 2019, they amount to more than $870 billion.” Baucus cites the CBO which says, “[T]he creation of allowances by the government should be recorded as revenues. That logic does not hinge on whether the government sells or, instead, gives away the allowances. Allowances would have significant value even if given away because the recipients could sell them or, in the case of a covered entity, use them to avoid incurring the cost of compliance.”

Tom Carper (D-DE)

E&E News “I thought the utility industry did a great service by coming up with a compromise that all of them could live with,” he said. “Most legislators are lay people. We can’t be experts. We need for the industry to come up to us and say we think this is a fair compromise. They’ve done that. I think we should embrace it.”

Charles Grassley (R-IA)

E&E News “It is not free money,” Grassley said. “It’s a national energy tax on all Americans.”

ENews USA Ranking Member Grassley said, “The President supports 100 percent auction of allowances.”

Washington Post Even a hint of opposition to the tariff was intolerable to Mr. Grassley, so he threatened to block the Shannon nomination unless the Obama administration “clarified” its stand. No doubt mindful of Mr. Grassley’s leverage over the Senate Finance Committee’s health-care reform effort, the White House gave him what he wanted: a letter last week from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk promising “no plans” to change the tariff. Mr. Shannon’s confirmation is back on track.

Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)

E&E News “Waxman-Markey picks winners and losers,” Lincoln said. “I think it’s a deeply flawed bill. I hope we’ll work hard on something that makes better sense.” “We’re hoping we’re going to be doing health care in September,” she said. “I don’t think we can do both of them.”

John Rockefeller (D-WV)

Politico “Everything is hard, everything is slow,” said West Virginia Democratic Sen. John Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. “My answer to that is let’s do what we always did with [former Senate Majority Leader] George Mitchell and stay until Dec. 22. We did that every year he was majority leader.”

Tom Udall (D-NM)

KRWG “A question was asked by Senator Bingaman at the luncheon at the White House with President Obama, and he said “are we going to make a commitment to replenish the funds, because those are important, you know, and several New Mexico businesses have an opportunity to get some of those funds, for example, a solar project down in Dona Ana County.” And the president said he was putting his chief of staff on it right away, and he expected that to be done. So I feel much more comfortable about where the funding’s coming from. I’m going to be following up with the White House and working with Senator Bingaman on that.”

Senate Watch: Alexander, Dorgan, Harkin, Johanns

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 04 Aug 2009 20:50:00 GMT

Lamar Alexander (R-TN)

Washington Post “We want an America in which we create hundreds of thousands of ‘green jobs,’ but not at the expense of destroying tens of millions of red, white and blue jobs.”

Byron Dorgan (D-ND)

Washington Post “It’s very hard for Congress to do one big thing, much less do a couple of really big issues at the same time,” said Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.), whose state produces coal as well as wind power. Dorgan, who could be a swing vote on a climate bill, said he believes in capping carbon emissions, but not this way. He fears that cap-and-trade will create a market open to manipulation, like existing securities markets. He remains noncommittal about his ultimate vote. “We have a whole mountain range to climb before we get there,” he said.

Tom Harkin (D-IA)

Washington Post “What they did, we’ll keep,” said  Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “We’re going to maybe do some other things that would maybe embellish what they did in the House.” He wants to be more generous with “carbon offset” programs that allow farmers to be paid for no-till agriculture that keeps carbon in the soil.

Mike Johanns (R-NE)

Delta Farm Press “If the United States passes this bill (without China and India), we’re not going to impact temperatures to any significant degree. Isn’t that correct?” “‘Because overall land area and crops decline due to aforestation, the modeling indicates a net decrease in total agricultural soil carbon storage as carbon is transferred from agricultural soils to the aforestation pool.’ “The whole purpose of this hearing is just to be honest with people. So, what’s going out of production? The important thing about that is it affects the pork producer, the cattle guy — it beats the living daylights out of them. Why? Because prices will go up. They’re out there saying, ‘Look, my input costs are going to go up with electricity, natural gas, fertilizer.’ “Just tell them: how many acres are going out of production?” “Many of the offsets (Vilsack) speaks about wouldn’t go to the row crop person to offset his higher energy, fertilizer and other costs,” Johanns continued. “It would go to the person who is planting the forestland. “But, again, unless you can quantify this, you can’t sell this plan. It becomes the ‘hope and a prayer’ plan for agriculture because you can’t tell farmers and ranchers what they’ll be exposed to in terms of input costs. That’s a huge issue.” It’s no consolation “to stand with one foot in the campfire and one in the ice bucket and say, ‘on average, I’m in good shape,’” said Johanns. “It’s no consolation to tell farmers and ranchers, ‘you’re going to be in good shape, on average,’ if you don’t know the regional differences, the crop differences, if you can’t tell them how much land will go out of production. “And yet we have a House bill (Waxman/Markey) that passed. I find that shocking. I find it amazingly shocking that could happen without the aforementioned information being available.

Senate Watch: Barrasso, Baucus, Bond, Cardin, Corker, Johanns, Landrieu, Lautenberg, McCain

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 03 Aug 2009 15:00:00 GMT

John Barrasso (R-WY)

Billings Gazette Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., calls it a ‘job-killer’ that would result in “stripping red, white and blue jobs, and then subsidizing a few green jobs in their place.”

Max Baucus (D-MT)

E&E News “We’re going to, in the Finance Committee, have hearings on and fully intend to mark up allowances, which allowances are free allowances, as well as what allowances are auctioned.” “On allocations, the last time, in the Clean Air Act, that was a much smaller deal,” Baucus said. “This is much more important. And also, it is a tax measure. It’s a tax bill. And if the House bill were referred to a committee, it’d be automatically referred to the Finance Committee because of revenue.”

Kit Bond (R-MO)

Springfield News-Leader Blunt appeared at Saturday’s meeting with Sen. Kit Bond, who vowed to raise a lot of questions when the bill gets to the Senate. He said most sources are telling him it would make energy bills double. “That’s just a guess,” said Bond. “It may only go up 50 percent, it may go up 200 percent rather than 100 percent. Nobody really knows how much it will cost other than it will cost.” . . . Bond said that with China and India refusing to adopt cap-and-trade provisions, getting the United States to abide by them won’t make a huge impact on climate change.

Ben Cardin (D-MD)

E&E News “I like the House bill, don’t get me wrong,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.). “But I think we can do better.”

Bob Corker (R-TN)

Grist “I didn’t think it was possible, but the Waxman-Markey climate bill appears to be even more problematic than the climate bill that tanked in the Senate last spring,” he said, referring to the Lieberman-Warner bill that he voted against in 2008.  “I don’t know of many special interests that don’t receive a pay-off in this [Waxman-Markey] legislation, and if it comes to the Senate floor in this form, I’ll vote against it.” “I want to tell you that I wish we would just talk about a carbon tax, 100 percent of which would be returned to the American people. So there’s no net dollars that would come out of the American people’s pockets.”

Mike Johanns (R-NE)

Des Moines Register But without more economic analysis, Vilsack is trying to sell the climate bill on a “hope and a prayer,” says Mike Johnanns.

Johanns “Cap-and-trade threatens to change the landscape of American agriculture, and we need to get a better understanding of just how deep the impact will be,” Johanns said. “It is necessary for the Senate as well as farmers and ranchers across the country to know the facts about how cap-and-trade will affect agriculture. I am pleased Chairman Harkin has agreed to hold more hearings, and I hope they, along with a committee mark-up, are scheduled soon so we can give this critical issue a more in-depth look.”

Mary Landrieu (D-LA)

E&E News “I’m using this time to try respectfully to educate members of my caucus, and maybe some Republicans, about the importance of natural gas, the importance of domestic energy security, so we don’t lose that in this debate.” Landrieu said. “It’s not just about cleaning up the environment. It’s about securing America’s economic future. And both are important.”

Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)

E&E News “That’s the objective, as far as I’m concerned,” added Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.). “Because the glide path has to be established that enables us to get to 80 percent in 2050. You can’t get there unless you start aggressively pushing.”

John McCain (R-AZ)

Wall Street Journal “I believe climate change is real . . . but this 1,400-page bill is a farce. They bought every industry off—steel mills, agriculture, utilities,” he says. So you wouldn’t vote for the House bill? “I would not only not vote for it,” he laughs, “I am opposed to it entirely, because it does damage to those of us who believe that we need to act in a rational fashion about climate change.”

Senate Watch: Baucus, Conrad, Dorgan, Inhofe, Johanns, McCain, Rockefeller

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 29 Jul 2009 20:40:00 GMT


Max Baucus (D-MT)

E&E News “There’s a reason why the House bill came up with its formula,” Baucus said. “And I suppose a lot of those same reasons will apply over here, too. But the Senate’s a little different than the House. We’ll take a fresh look, but respective of what the House did. We’ll look at ways to make sure U.S. companies are not taken advantage of, or discriminated against,” he said. “The trade-related remedies is one way.”

Kent Conrad (D-ND)

E&E News “On the energy bill to reduce our dependence, it is so centrally important to the economy that it needs to be done as soon as we can get it done, and there you have a chance for pretty strong bipartisan support,” Conrad said.

Byron Dorgan (D-ND)

EPW “…The second half of it, as my colleague described, is not something we are doing in this bill, but the ability to continue hydraulic fracturing, decade after decade, I think for nearly 50 years, I am not aware of any evidence that there is any contamination of groundwater with hydraulic fracturing when companies have followed the appropriate guidelines and regulations.”

James Inhofe (R-OK)

EPW Minority In the coming weeks, I intend to go through every single page of this climate bill, revealing the massive amount of spending, the labyrinth of new regulations, and expansion of government agencies and programs…I think the time is right to peel back the green veil and expose this 1,400-page monument to big government. There’s a lot in there, and at times the bill gets very complicated. But over the next several weeks, I plan to focus on some of the bill’s most damaging provisions, as well as those that reinforce the criticisms I’ve been making. Before the United States Senate moves to vote on the largest tax increase in history, the American public deserves to know exactly what is in this bill.

Mike Johanns (D-NE)

Des Moines Register “…you can have one foot in the campfire and another in the ice bucket, and on average you’d be just right, despite the fact that you’d be on fire. Similarly, using averages to estimate the impact of cap-and-trade does not help farmers and ranchers to calculate the true costs. Perhaps American agriculture will be fully on board with the secretary after reviewing solid analysis.”

John McCain (R-AZ)

The Hill “It depends on whether the administration has a proposal. That’s generally the way we work, but obviously that’s not been the case here,” McCain said. “It also depends on whether there’s a tangible desire for bipartisanship and whether the president decides to lead. I think that some of us have a legitimate desire to say, ‘Well, what is your proposal?’ to the president.”

Jay Rockefeller (R-WV)

Daily Mail “I’m glad to hear from so many West Virginians about this really important issue,” Rockefeller said. “I will absolutely fight for the future of coal and jobs in our state. I will not support an energy bill that threatens West Virginia’s future.”

Artur Davis: Waxman-Markey Will 'Wreak Havoc' on Alabama's Struggling Economy

Posted by Wonk Room Sat, 27 Jun 2009 12:49:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

In a C-SPAN interview, Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) attacked Waxman-Markey, claiming it would “wreak havoc” on Alabama’s manufacturers. Even though a record-breaking heatwave has killed a woman in his state this week, the dynamic congressman now running for governor in Alabama explained his plan to vote against the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2998/H.R. 2454) today by arguing it would destroy his state’s fragile economy:

This bill is still going to wreak havoc with the manufacturing sector in some parts of the country.”

“The Senate, for example, is not considering cap and trade. The cap and trade provisions are the ones that frankly would damage the manufacturing sector short term and have a lot of other unpredictable consequences on our economy.”

“When we’re in the midst of a deep recession, we need to make sure we’re not making a dramatic change that could cost us jobs in the short term, because many states simply can’t afford to lose more jobs.”

This is the wrong time for cap and trade, this is the wrong time to impose a renewable electricity standard on the Southeast.”

Watch it:

In fact, the Senate is continuing to work on cap-and-trade legislation for passage this fall, and studies have shown that states like Alabama need the clean-energy economy to recover from the Bush-Exxon recession.

A Clean-Energy Economy Will Create 29,000 Jobs In Alabama. The Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454), the EPA found, will “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 “play a critical role in the American economic recovery and job growth.” A report from the Center for American Progress and the Political Economy Research Institute “finds that Alabama could see a net increase of about $2.2 billion in investment revenue and 29,000 jobs based on its share of a total of $150 billion in clean-energy investments annually across the country. This is even after assuming a reduction in fossil fuel spending equivalent to the increase in clean-energy investments. [EPA, 4/20/09; PERI, 6/18/09]

Waxman-Markey Directs Billions Of Dollars To Energy-Intensive Manufacturing. The Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) includes cost containment provisions, allowances for worker assistance and training, investments in clean energy technologies, a new clean energy deployment agency, and billions of dollars in direct assistance to trade-vulnerable and other industries. [Committee on Energy and Commerce, 6/9/09]

A Renewable Electricity Standard Would Reduce Costs In Alabama. The Energy Information Administration projects that a renewable electricity standard of 25 percent by 2025 – much stronger than the one in the Waxman-Markey legislation – would drive electricity costs down by more than 10 percent in Alabama and throughout the Southeast, as utilities move away from increasingly expensive coal to renewable biomass. [EIA, 4/09]

Alabama Is Especially Susceptible To Global Warming Damages. As a coastal state, Alabama is highly vulnerable to the devastation of hurricanes, which will increase in intensity as the oceans warm and sea levels rise. Rainfall is expected to decrease, increasing the rate of devastating droughts like that of 2007. By the end of the century, Alabama will have deadly heat waves over 90 degrees for more than four months every year. [U.S. Global Change Program, 2009]

A Score of Amendments Incorporated into Final Version of Waxman-Markey

Posted by Wonk Room Sat, 27 Jun 2009 01:39:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

CongressAfter long negotiations, House leadership has unveiled the final version of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454), to be voted on by the full House today. The bill’s author, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), introduced an amendment in the form of a substitute (H.R. 2998), which incorporates a score of amendments to the legislation. The schedule today includes five votes on the passage of this historic bill, which would national standards for clean energy and global warming pollution, with final vote expected at 5 PM:

  1. H. Res. 587: Adoption of the rule to set the terms of debate, officially three hours in total.
  2. H.R. 2998: Adoption of the Waxman amendment in the nature of the substitute.
  3. H.R. 513: Adoption of J. Randy Forbes (R-VA) substitute, the New Manhattan Project for Energy Independence.
  4. Motion to recommit.
  5. Final passage.

The final version of the Waxman-Markey act includes a mixed bag of changes. Weakening amendments include Rep. Collin Peterson’s (D-MN) concessions on behalf of Big Ag. In exchange for a restriction of the Building Energy Performance Labeling Program on behalf of the National Association of Realtors, Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s (D-CO) beneficial GREEN Act to spur energy-efficient homes will be adopted. Waxman included several other beneficial changes, including the Inslee (WA)-Markey (CO) clean-grid legislation, several critical green jobs amendments, and the Titus (NV)-Giffords (AZ)-Heinrich (NM) renewable energy standard for Federal agencies.

Below is a summary of the Waxman amendment, broken down by its the component amendments:

  • Waxman (CA): Makes changes to accommodate States that utilize a central purchasing model for its renewable electricity standard, and makes additional changes.
  • Inslee (WA) / Markey (CO): Provides FERC with sitting authority for the construction of certain high-priority interstate transmission lines constructed in the Western Interconnection and amends the National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors.
  • Peterson (MN): Requires the Agriculture Secretary to establish a list of types of domestic agricultural and forestry practices that result in reductions or avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions, exempts the agriculture and forestry sectors from the bill’s emission caps, redefines “biomass,” and grandfathers existing biodiesel plants to exempt them from lifecycle analysis under the RFS.
  • Polis (CO): Permits states to convey allowances in a SEED account directly to renewable energy generators.
  • Kratovil (MD): Requires the Agriculture Secretary to establish a carbon incentives program to achieve supplemental greenhouse gas emissions reductions on private agricultural and forestland.
  • Titus (NV)/ Giffords (AZ)/ Heinrich (NM): Establishes a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) for Federal agencies, and provides Federal agencies with the authority to enter into renewable energy power purchase agreements for up to 20 years.
  • Boren (OK)/ Larson (CT)/ Sullivan (OK): Makes natural gas fueled vehicles eligible for clean vehicle incentives, the vehicle integration program, and the manufacturing incentives for alternatively fueled vehicles.
  • Cardoza (CA): Limits the cost of a permit for a license for the construction of a solar energy system, and provides that noncompliance with permit cost requirements disqualifies the entity from Community Development Block Grants.
  • Halvorson (IL): Authorizes a national education and awareness program for the purpose of informing building, facility, and industrial plant owners and managers and decision makers, government leaders, and industry leaders about the large energy-saving potential of greater use of mechanical insulation and other benefits.
  • Hinchey (NY): Amends the definition of a “cluster,” as it applies to Energy Innovation Hub, and ensures that virtual connections qualify when defining a cluster.
  • Loebsack (IA): Amends the Retrofit for Energy and Environmental Performance (REEP) program to provide that funds provided to disaster victims through the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act may qualify as the building owners’ contribution toward the matching requirements of the REEP program, requires the Federal agencies administering assistance to disaster victims through the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act shall provide information to disaster victims on the REEP program, and provides 10 percent of funding under the REEP program for retrofits of public and assisted housing.
  • Moore (KS): Creates a Community Building Code Administration Grant program, providing $100 million over five years in competitive, matching grants for local building code enforcement.
  • Perlmutter (CO): Limits the Building Energy Performance Labeling Program in sec. 204 of the bill to new construction only.
  • Perlmutter (CO): Provides incentives to lenders and financial institutions to provide lower interest loans and other benefits to consumers who build, buy, or remodel homes and businesses to improve their energy efficiency.
  • Cardoza (CA): Directs HUD to issue rules to prohibit private covenants that restrict or prohibit the installation of solar energy systems.
  • Holt (NJ) / DeLauro (CT) / Baldwin (WI) / Baird (WA): Authorizes the Energy Secretary to develop a research program to study the factors affecting whether consumers adopt energy conservation practices or make energy efficiency improvements.
  • Sestak (PA): Requires the Energy Secretary to report to Congress on a study on the use of thorium-fueled nuclear reactors for national energy needs, including a response to the IAEA study entitled “Thorium fuel cycle – Potential benefits and challenges.”
  • Polis (CO): Establishes a clean energy career training clearinghouse to aid institutions with Federal resources, expertise, information and points of contact in establishing and maintaining quality training programs.
  • Jackson-Lee (TX): Adds provision seeking to ensure that minority-owned and women-owned businesses can benefit from grants aimed at stimulating business development, and requires the Labor Secretary to monitor the potential growth of impacted and displaced workers to ensure that the necessary funding continues to support the number of workers affected.
  • Larsen (WA): Expresses the senses of Congress that the United States should work with the International Civil Aviation Organization.

House Passes American Clean Energy and Security Act

Posted by Wonk Room Sat, 27 Jun 2009 00:23:00 GMT

From ThinkProgress.

In a 219-to-212 vote this evening, the House passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which will “for the first time put a price on carbon emissions” in the U.S. In the final minutes of the debate, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) threatened to obstruct the bill by reading 300 pages of amendments, but eventually relented and read only a few sentences from selected portions. Progressive Media compiled a video detailing the major arguments both for and against the bill. Watch it:

Despite promises that Republicans would rally against the bill, several members defected to support it, including Reps. Dave Reichart (R-WA), Mike Castle (R-DE), Mary Bono Mack, Mark Kirk (R-IL), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Chris Smith (R-NJ), and John McHugh (R-NY). 44 Democrats voted against the legislation. Reps. John Lewis (D-GA) and Pat Kennedy (D-RI) both returned to the floor for the first time after tending to significant health issues to support the legislation.

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