Under Threat of Republican Obstruction, Reid Abandons Climate Push 9

Posted by Wonk Room Tue, 27 Jul 2010 15:13:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

Climate deniersAs Washington, D.C. wilts in the global heat wave gripping the planet, the Democratic leadership in the Senate has abandoned the effort to cap global warming pollution for the foreseeable future, unwilling to test a Republican filibuster. Instead of testing the hypocrisy of climate peacocks, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will instead attempt to pass a limited bill with new energy incentives and oil reduction policies next week. The decision was formally made at a meeting of the Senate Democratic caucus Wednesday. After the meeting, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), whose efforts to craft comprehensive climate legislation had foundered, focused on the challenge of overcoming a filibuster:

But we’ve always known from day one, that in order to pass comprehensive energy/climate legislation, you’ve got to reach 60 votes, and to reach those 60 votes, you’ve got have some Republicans. And as we stand here today, we do not have one Republican. I think that it’s possible to get there.

It is the ninth day of the latest 90-plus heat wave to hit Washington DC, part of the global heat wave caused by greenhouse gas pollution. Former vice president Al Gore responded to the announcement with a cold reminder of the realities the Senate has not confronted:

The need to solve the climate crisis and transition to clean energy has never been more clear. The oil is still washing up on the shores of the Gulf Coast and we’ve just experienced the hottest six months on record. Our troops are fighting and dying in the Middle East and our economy is still struggling to produce jobs. I continue to urge the President to provide leadership on this issue and urge the Senate to make this issue a priority for the remainder of this Congress. Ultimately – and sooner rather than later – these issues simply must be dealt with. Our national security, our economic recovery and the future of the United States of America – and indeed the future of human civilization on this Earth – depends on our country taking leadership. And that, in turn, depends on the United States Senate acting. The truth about the climate crisis—inconvenient as ever—must be faced.

Briefing on Rainforest Provisions of Climate Legislation 12

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 17 May 2010 14:30:00 GMT

The American Power Act, cosponsored by Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, would cap carbon emissions, support clean energy expansion and improve oversight of oil drilling. But it cuts major provisions for the protection of tropical rainforests that reduce emissions and help keep legislation affordable.

Monday at 10:30am EDT, leading experts on climate forest policies will brief journalists by phone on the American Power Act’s tropical forests policies and the significant environmental and cost implications of these changes.

  • Douglas Boucher, Ph.D. – Union of Concerned Scientists and Chairman of the Tropical Forest and Climate Coalition
  • Mariann Quinn, Director, Environment, Health, and Safety, -Duke Energy
  • Greg Fishbein, Managing Director, Forest Carbon Program – The Nature Conservancy

Please call 888-293-6960 and ask for the Climate Forests Fix call. If asked, the passcode is 6624052.

Tropical deforestation is responsible for more carbon dioxide emissions than all the cars, trucks and planes in the world. But protecting forests is one of the most affordable ways of reducing pollution, cutting the costs of legislation by approximately a third or more. It also levels the playing field for U.S. farmers, ranchers, and timber producers by helping stop illegal and unsustainable agriculture practices in tropical countries.

Previous versions of the legislation have set aside five percent of allowances for rainforest conservation and included offset provisions to allow companies to get credit for investing in tropical forest conservation. Restoring these provisions will help accelerate emissions reductions while saving consumers billions of dollars a year on their energy bills.

For more information, contact Glenn Hurowitz at 202-232-3317 and glenn@climateforest.org or Ben Becker at 202-292-6974 or bbecker@gpgdc.com

Kerry-Lieberman Press Conference 13

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 12 May 2010 17:30:00 GMT

Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, tomorrow will roll out their comprehensive energy and climate change legislation that will create jobs, strengthen America’s energy independence, safeguard our national security, and restore our global economic leadership for decades to come.

Senior congressional staff will hold a background briefing for reporters Wednesday morning followed by an afternoon press conference with the Senators and a broad coalition of business, environment, faith, and national security supporters.

A First Look At The Details Of The Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act 9

Posted by Wonk Room Wed, 12 May 2010 16:26:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

Last night, the Wonk Room published a summary of the provisions of the American Power Act, the comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation being introduced today by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT). This post delves deeper into the legislation’s specific provisions. The following table compares key elements of Obama’s campaign promises from 2007 and 2008, the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act as passed by the House of Representatives, and the elements of the Kerry-Lieberman draft legislation, as based on leaked summaries.

The Kerry-Lieberman legislation has a 15-year transition period that supports state-level renewable and energy efficiency initiatives (which will create millions of jobs), invests in smart transportation, and rebuilds American manufacturing, much like Waxman-Markey, but with new support for nuclear energy and natural gas that reflects the interests of large blocs of senators.

Important scientific elements in Kerry-Lieberman are the rapid mitigation of super-greenhouse gases and black carbon, as well as natural resource adaptation programs. By the end of 2025 the legislation has shifted to resemble the refund-based auctioned-allowance system promoted by President Obama and advocates of cap-and-dividend.

The primary missing information from the summaries is the disposition of the allowances—how they will be distributed to polluters and how rapidly the auctioned pool grows. Details of the scientific review provisions were also not included.

Download the short summary as a readable PDF.

Download the section-by-section summary as a readable PDF.

Provision Obama Proposal Waxman-Markey Kerry-Lieberman
Overall Structure Economy-wide cap and trade, plus renewable electricity and energy efficiency standards and clean energy investment Utility, industry, and petroleum sector cap and trade starting in 2012, plus renewable electricity and energy efficiency standards and clean energy investment Utility (2013) and industry (2016) cap and trade with linked refinery cap (2013), plus consumer rebates, support for state-level renewable electricity and energy efficiency standards, and energy investment
Emissions Targets 15% below 2005 (at 1990 levels) by 2020, 80% below 2005 (77% below 1990) by 2050 Capped Sectors: 17% below 2005 (3% below 1990) by 2020, 80% below 2005 by 2050
Overall economy goal: 20% below 2005 (7% below 1990) by 2020, 80% below 2005 by 2050
Capped Sectors: 17% below 2005 by 2020, 80% below 2005 by 2050, plus accelerated mitigation of super-GHGs, black carbon
Scientific Review Not discussedPresidential plan in 2015 and every four years thereafter TBA
Traditional Coal Plants “Standards that ban new traditional coal facilities” if necessary, and “cap on carbon will make it uneconomic to site traditional coal facilities and discourage the use of existing inefficient coal facilities” Price on carbon mitigated by free allocations based 50% on historical emissions; Clean Air Act performance standards in 2016 determined by EPA Price on carbon mitigated by free allocations based 75% on historical emissions; Clean Air Act performance standards phasing in 2016-2020 determined by statute
Green Economy Investment$150 billion over ten years, including workforce training, plug-in hybrids, renewable electricity, advanced biofuels, advanced coal technology, nuclear power, and smart grid Approximately $100 billion over ten years, including workforce training, plug-in hybrids, renewable electricity, advanced biofuels, advanced coal technology, nuclear power, and smart grid $70 billion for clean transportation over ten years, extensive support for nuclear, natural gas vehicles, same support for advanced coal as W-M, and support for renewables
Permit Allocation Full auction Allocations based on historical emissions and energy production with 20% auction at start, phasing to 70% auction by 2030 Allocations TBA phasing to TBA auction by 2030
Renewable & Efficiency Standards 25% renewable electricity by 2025, 100% new building efficiency by 2030, phase out traditional incandescents by 2014 15% renewable electricity + 5% efficiency by 2020, 75% new building efficiency by 2030, appliance and lighting efficiency standards Support for state-level standards; if national standard based on Bingaman energy bill, weaker than projected business-as-usual
Consumer ProtectionLIHEAP, low-income weatherization grants, a “dedicated fund to assist low-income Americans,” plus Making Work Pay tax cutOver first ten years, 45% (approx. $30 billion) of allocated permits and auction revenues dedicated to consumer protection through rebates and efficiency measures, emphasizing low-income consumersWorking families rebate checks from start; Allocated permits dedicated to consumer protection through rebates and efficiency measures; Universal rebate checks from 75% of auction revenues starting in 2026
Market RegulationIncreased regulation of energy marketsFERC and CFTC regulation, no over-the-counter derivatives trading, increased regulation of energy marketsProhibits derivatives, limits permit auction to covered emitters
Agriculture and DeforestationDomestic and international incentives to sequester carbon and reduce deforestation, support for biofuelsPool of offsets plus supplemental fund of 5% of permits for domestic and international incentives to sequester carbon and reduce deforestation, support for biofuelsPool of offsets plus supplemental fund for domestic and international incentives to sequester carbon and reduce deforestation, support for rural energy program
Deficit ReductionNot discussed10% of permits auctioned (approx. $8 billion) over first ten years for deficit reductionObeys PAYGO; Starting in 2026, 25% of auction revenues for deficit reduction
Fuels and TransportationIncrease biofuels to 60 million gallons by 2030, low-carbon fuel standard of 10% by 2010, 1 million plug‐in hybrid cars by 2025, raise fuel economy standards, smart growth funding, end oil subsidies, promote natural gas drilling, enhanced oil recoverySmart growth funding, plug-in hybrids, raise fuel economy standards$7 billion a year for smart growth funding, plug-in hybrids, natural gas vehicles, raise fuel economy standards; offshore drilling with revenue sharing and oil spill veto, natural gas fracking disclosure
Cost ContainmentInternational offsetsOffset pool, banking and borrowing flexibility, soft price collar using permit reserve auction at $28 per ton going to 60% above three-year-average market price“Hard” price collar between $12 and $25 per ton, floor increases at 3%+CPI, ceiling at 5%+CPI, plus permit reserve auction, offsets like W-M
Clean Air Act And StatesNot discussedOnly polluters above 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent a year, regional cap and trade suspended until 2017, EPA to set stationary source performance standards in 2016, some Clean Air Act provisions excludedOnly polluters above 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent a year, regional cap and trade pre-empted, establishes coal-fired plant performance standards, some Clean Air Act provisions excluded
International CompetitivenessTax incentives for domestic auto industry Free allowances for trade-exposed industries, 2020 carbon tariff on imports from nations without GHG reduction programFree allowances for trade-exposed industries, carbon tariff on imports from nations without GHG reduction program
References: Barack Obama, 2007; Barack Obama, 8/3/08; Pew Center, 6/26/09; leaked drafts of American Power Act, 5/11/10.

Download the short summary of the American Power Act as a readable PDF.

Download the section-by-section summary as a readable PDF.

Kerry-Lieberman Legislative Background Briefing 9

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 12 May 2010 15:00:00 GMT

Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, tomorrow will roll out their comprehensive energy and climate change legislation that will create jobs, strengthen America’s energy independence, safeguard our national security, and restore our global economic leadership for decades to come.

Senior congressional staff will hold a background briefing for reporters Wednesday morning followed by an afternoon press conference with the Senators and a broad coalition of business, environment, faith, and national security supporters.