Climate Justice Components Of Build Back Better Agenda Have Been Pared Back, With Further Cuts Possible

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 28 Sep 2021 17:14:00 GMT

In its reconciliation package, the House of Representatives restored some of Biden’s requested funding for climate justice measures that had been slashed by the U.S. Senate’s bipartisan deal, but massive cuts remain.

If the White House heeds the “no double dip” deal it made with Senate centrists, the House funds will be eliminated.

Two Build Back Better climate-justice programs that were cut in the Senate’s infrastructure package (known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, or BIF) are funded at or above President Biden’s requested levels:

  • Building electric vehicle charging stations, raised $15 billion to $21 billion
  • Replacing the nation’s lead pipes, fully restored to $45 billion

However, most face massive cuts, with no prospect for improvement:

  • Reconnecting minority communities cut off by highway projects, cut 79% from $24 billion to $4.95 billion
  • Investing in electric school buses, cut 63% from $20 billion to $7.5 billion
  • Road safety, including “vision zero” programs to protect pedestrians, cut 45% from $20 billion to $11 billion (only $100 million added)
  • Upgrading and modernizing America’s drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems, cut 40% from $56 billion to $33.7 billion
  • Repairing and modernizing public transit, cut 36% from $85 billion to $54 billion
  • Broadband infrastructure, cut 31% from $100 billion to $69 billion
  • Investing in passenger and freight rail, cut 5% from $80 billion to $76 billion
Furthermore, the House added on additional funding for the programs that act as bailouts for polluters:
  • Capping orphan wells, increased to $18.5 billion, 16% over Biden’s request
  • Brownfield and Superfund, increased to $20 billion, three times Biden’s request

The BIF includes the Civil Nuclear Credit Program, a $6 billion bailout fund for existing nuclear plants.

The Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) is a major climate initiative in the House reconciliation package, establishing a sort of carbon cap-and-trade system for electric utilities with the goal of increasing low-carbon electricity production to 80 percent of the mix by 2030. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has indicated his desire to modify the CEPP to lower its standards to support natural-gas plants.

Treatment of Environmental Justice in NRC Activities

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 15 Jul 2021 17:30:00 GMT

The purpose of these meetings is to describe NRC staff efforts in assessing Environmental Justice in NRC’s programs, policies, and activities as directed by the Commission in Staff Requirements Memorandum (ADAMS Accession No. ML21113A070). The staff will provide an overview of current and planned activities and receive comments from members of the public.

There will be two meetings; one from 1:30 pm to 3 pm and one from 8 pm to 9:30 pm.

Comments will be accepted from members of the public and other stakeholders from 8:30 until meeting closing at 9:30 pm. NRC staff will also answer process-related questions after everyone has had a chance to provide comments during the meeting, time permitting. A transcript of the meeting will be available approximately 10 days after the meeting and a link to the transcript will be referenced in the meeting summary.

1:30 pm-3 pm: Webinar Link (Microsoft Teams)
  • Meeting Number: 8003692109
  • Password: 6976164#
  • NRC staff contacts are Allen Fetter, Office of the Executive Director for Operations, at Allen.Fetter@nrc.gov or (301) 415-8556, and Ed Miller at (301) 415-2481.

    Additionally, NRC is requesting comments as part of its systematic review for how NRC programs, policies, and activities address environmental justice. Specifically, the NRC would like input on how the agency is addressing environmental justice, considering the agency’s mission and statutory authority. The information will be used to inform the agency’s assessment of how it addresses environmental justice.

    Submit comments by August 23, 2021. Comments received after this date will be considered if it is practical to do so, but the NRC is able to ensure consideration only for comments received on or before this date.

    You may submit comments by any of the following methods:
    • Telephone: 301–415–3875.
    • Email: NRC-EJReview@nrc.gov
    • Mail comments to: Office of Administration, Mail Stop: TWFN–7–A60M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555–0001, ATTN: Program Management, Announcements and Editing Staff.

    Please reference Docket ID NRC–2021–0137 in your comment submission.

    Analysis: $95 Billion Manchin Energy Infrastructure Act Is Heavily Biased Against Renewable Energy

    Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 13 Jul 2021 19:58:00 GMT

    Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), the chair of the Senate energy committee, has released the text of his Energy Infrastructure Act, which will undergo committee markup tomorrow.

    An analysis by Friends of the Earth finds only $410 million in funding for renewable wind, solar, geothermal and tidal energy but nearly $30 billion for non-renewable energy programs.

    Even the investments in storage and energy efficiency are less than half of spending in polluting energy.

    The legislation proposes to make $95 billion in infrastructure investments mainly concentrated in the energy sector. But a close look at exactly where the money is going to go reveals an undeniable bet on dirty energy from the 20th century over clean energy from the 21st. In fact, the bill authorizes $28.8 billion in nuclear, carbon capture and dirty hydrogen over only $410 million in direct authorizations for wind, solar, geothermal and tidal. That’s a ratio of dirty to renewables of over 70-to-1. Even when combining the renewable provisions with the bill’s meager storage and efficiency programs, Manchin still proposes spending twice as much on dirty than he does on clean.

    Most of the language for the carbon capture text was taken from the SCALE (Storing CO2 and Lowering Emissions) Act from Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.).

    The nuclear provisions were drawn from the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act from Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).

    The fossil & polluting energy provisions include:
    • $12.6 billion for carbon capture projects, including financing for carbon-dioxide pipelines used for enhanced oil recovery to extend the life of oil wells.
    • $6 billion for subsidy payments to the nuclear industry to extend the lifetime of aging plants past economic viability.
    • $7 billion in research and development from hydrogen programs; 95 percent of hydrogen production is from fracked gas.
    • $1.9 billion in subsidies for commercial logging on public lands
    On the storage and energy-efficiency side, provisions include:
    • $6 billion for battery production: minerals mining, processing, manufacturing, and recycling
    • $3.5 billion for the low-income energy efficiency efforts under the Weather Assistance Program

    In addition, there is a further giveaway to the coal industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars in the text: a 20% cut to the Abandoned Mine Land fee paid by the coal industry.

    Senior ExxonMobil lobbyist Keith McCoy revealed to a journalist posing as a corporate recruiter that Manchin holds weekly calls with Exxon. He named Coons and Barrasso as two other “crucial” allies to the oil giant’s agenda.

    Drilling For Votes: Senators Stake Out Climate And Energy Stances 1

    Posted by Brad Johnson Sat, 27 Mar 2010 15:34:00 GMT

    From the Wonk Room.

    Senators are beginning to seriously tackle climate and clean energy reform, responding to the leadership of Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) with letters staking out positions and making specific demands. Here’s an overview of these letters:

    The Udall Group: Twenty-two Senators Say Senate Should ‘Consider’ Climate Legislation ‘This Year’.
    Led by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), a moderate bloc of twenty-two Democratic senators “believe the United States should consider bipartisan and comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation this year with a renewed focus on jobs and reduced dependence on foreign oil.” Critically, eleven of the signatories last year signed on to a Republican filibuster threat of green economy legislation, and seven are members of Sen. Evan Bayh’s (D-IN) Moderate Democrats Working Group . Bayh himself did not sign Udall’s letter.

    Download the Udall Group letter. Signatories: Begich (D-AK), Bennet (D-CO), Brown (D-OH), Burris (D-IL), Cantwell (D-WA), Carper (D-DE), Casey (D-PA), Franken (D-MN), Hagan (D-NC), Harkin (D-IA), Kaufman (D-DE), Klobuchar (D-MN), Merkley (D-OR), Murray (D-WA), Shaheen (D-NH), Specter (D-PA), Stabenow (D-MI), Tester (D-MT), Udall (D-NM), Udall (D-CO), Warner (D-VA), and Wyden (D-OR).

    The Nuke Group: A Bipartisan Group Of Eleven Senators Demand A Nuclear Energy Summit.
    Five Democrats and six Republicans, from Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) to Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), propose the White House hold a “nuclear energy summit” on the “development of a 50-year strategy” within “the next 3-4 months,” because “safe nuclear power must play an increasingly important role in meeting our rising energy demand and ensuring cleaner air.” They want Energy Secretary Steven Chu, EPA Adminstrator Lisa Jackson, NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko, and Bill Gates to attend.

    Download the Nuke Group letter. Signatories: Carper (D-DE), Landrieu (D-LA), Klobuchar (D-MN), Webb (D-VA), Warner (D-VA), Voinovich (R-OH), Crapo (R-ID), Vitter (R-LA), Sessions (R-AL), Alexander (R-TN) and Inhofe (R-OK).

    Coastal State Senators: Don’t Drill On Me.
    In a letter to Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman, ten Democratic senators from coastal states – Florida, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Maryland, Oregon, and Ted Kaufman of Delaware – write that “our states are literally the front lines when it comes to the severe impacts we’ll see from sea level rise and stronger storms,” and express their concerns that “some interests are aggressively pursuing an effort to open the nation’s coasts and oceans for unfettered access to oil and gas drilling.” They reject “the concept of sharing revenue with states,” as “funds that belong to the American people should be shared equally and prioritized to reduce the federal deficit and to protect our oceans and coasts that provide this resource.” They call for use-it-or-lose-it language on oil leases. Increased offshore drilling won’t reduce the cost of gas, they recognize, saying “the only way for us to lower oil prices is to pursue and aggressive policy of energy efficiency and conservation.”

    Download the Coastal Senators letter. Signatories: Nelson (D-FL), Menendez (D-NJ), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Reed (D-RI), Whitehouse (D-RI), Cardin (D-MD), Mikulski (D-MD), Merkley (D-OR), Wyden (D-OR), and Kaufman (D-DE).

    Feinstein Drills Into Policy Details.
    In a letter to Kerry, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) touches on several specific policy details for his “bipartisan legislation to address the pressing problem of climate change.” She wants heavy industry to be exempted from the initial cap, opposes pre-emption of California’s tailpipe emissions standards, supports the Waxman-Markey formula for electric utility permit giveaways, wants new offshore drilling to require state-level legislation, thanks Kerry for including the Snowe-Feinstein market oversight language, and wants the oil carbon fee to be indexed to an emissions target rather than a carbon market. Significantly, Feinstein recommends that “the legislation’s spending authorizations expire no later than ten years after enactment”—a major change from the forty-year permit allocation formulas in previous legislation.

    Download Feinstein’s letter.

    Begich: ‘Alaska Is Ground Zero For Climate Change,’ So Let’s Drill It.
    Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) penned a letter saying “Alaska is ground zero for climate change. We are feeling its near-term effects far more than the residents of any other state, including retreating sea ice, rapidly eroding shorelines, thawing permafrost, ocean acidification, and changing fish and wildlife migration patterns.” Despite this, Begich calls for “greater emphasis and expanded incentives for natural gas” and “sharing in revenue from oil and gas development” from federal waters off the Arctic coast. Citing the “billions of dollars” of “damage to Alaska public infrastructure alone due to climate change,” Begich also requests “a higher priority for domestic rather than international adaptation funding” and an increased investment in Arctic research.

    However, Begich does not call for stronger emissions reduction targets, stronger renewable or efficiency standards, stronger investments in green technologies, or anything that would allow the United States to lead an international agreement to halt greenhouse gas pollution.

    Download Begich’s letter.

    Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman have been holding a marathon of meetings. On Thursday they met with representatives of oil majors Shell, BP America, and ConocoPhillips, yet again with the pollution lobbyists of the Alliance for Energy and Economic Growth, and also with Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and later with members of the electric utility trade group Edison Electric Institute.

    None of these senators’ letters call for stronger pollution reductions, stronger renewable or efficiency standards, stronger scientific review, stronger regulation of hydraulic fracturing, stronger action on coal ash waste, stronger mercury rules, an end to mountaintop removal, or greater auctions of pollution permits.

    WonkLine: June 10, 2009

    Posted by Wonk Room Wed, 10 Jun 2009 13:03:00 GMT

    From the Wonk Room.

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    Global warming has “virtually wiped out” the most complex Caribbean coral reefs, “compromising their role as a nursery for fish stocks and a buffer against tropical storms,” a new study finds.

    Badly outnumbered and months behind in the debate on energy and climate change, House Republicans plan to introduce an energy bill” drafted by global warming denier Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) today, “setting a goal of building 100 reactors over the next 20 years.”

    China is planning a vast increase in its use of wind and solar power over the next decade and believes” it can achieve 20 percent renewable power by 2020,” even as the U.S. renewable standard in clean energy legislation has been whittled down to less than 15 percent by 2020.

    WonkLine: June 8, 2009

    Posted by Wonk Room Mon, 08 Jun 2009 13:08:00 GMT

    From the Wonk Room.

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    We really can’t say we’re the Saudi Arabia of coal anymore,” says Brenda Pierce, head of the USGS team that found the estimates of a 240-year supply of coal in the United States to be grossly inflated, as “relatively little of it can be profitably extracted.”

    The Congressional Budget Office has released its cost estimate of the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454), finding that it would reduce budget deficits “about $24 billion over the 2010-2019 period.”

    In a mock hearing today, Republican senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), John McCain (R-AZ), and Jim Bunning (R-KY) “will propose building 100 new nuclear power plants over the next 20 years” instead of a mandatory cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

    Is Subsidizing Commercial Energy Projects the Best Way for America to Achieve its Energy Goals?

    Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 24 Mar 2009 16:00:00 GMT

    The ethanol mandate taught us that energy subsidies for commercial energy projects can lead to unintended consequences and ultimately be counterproductive. Yet Washington’s attempts to address America’s energy questions continue to rely heavily on preferences, mandates, and subsidies for energy commercialization. This is causing energy experts from across the political spectrum to begin questioning the role of subsidies in energy policy. Is this an area where liberals and conservatives might agree?

    Join us for a panel with four politically diverse energy experts who will discuss these questions and others as they investigate where agreement exists on the role of energy subsidies, mandates, and preferences in commercializing energy in the United States.

    Speakers
    • Peter Bradford, Vermont Law School, former NRC Commissioner and Union of Concerned Scientists Board Member
    • Marlo Lewis, Senior Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute
    • Doug Koplow, Founder, Earth Track
    • Ben Lieberman, Senior Policy Analyst, Energy and Environment, The Heritage Foundation
    Hosts
    • Jack Spencer, Research Fellow in Nuclear Energy Policy, The Heritage Foundation
    • Henry Sokolski, Executive Director, Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC)

    214 Massachusetts Ave NE

    Everything You Wanted To Know About Nuclear Energy—But Were Afraid to Ask

    Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 24 Mar 2009 16:00:00 GMT

    The nuclear science and engineering education and research community cordially invites you to attend a luncheon briefing: “Everything You Wanted To Know About Nuclear Energy—But Were Afraid to Ask.”

    Sponsored by:
    • The Nuclear Engineering Department Heads Organization
    • National Organization of Test, Research, and Training Reactors
    • Nuclear Energy Institute
    • American Nuclear Society

    This lunch will feature prominent scholars and experts from universities in 25 different states. The event complies with rules for a widely attended event.

    RSVP: Please RSVP with Sherazhad Hakky via e-mail: ssh@nei.org. Please note that space is extremely limited. RSVPs must be received by Monday, March 23.

    Controversial Stimulus Energy Provisions Reduced in Conference

    Posted by Wonk Room Sun, 15 Feb 2009 03:57:00 GMT

    From the Wonk Room.

    Conferees
    The conferees.
    The economic recovery plan agreed to by House and Senate negotiators will “pump billions of dollars into ‘smart grid’ projects,” renewable energy, energy efficiency, and public transit. The conference report reduced some of the more controversial elements that were included by the Senate:

    COAL SUPPORT

    Wonk Room: Senate ‘Improvements For Integration’ Loophole May Make $4.6 Billion ‘Clean Coal’ Fund A Dirty Giveaway (2/12/09):
    The Senate version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act adds $2.2 billion to the House’s allocation of $2.4 billion for the development of “carbon capture and sequestration technologies” (CCS). Furthermore, the Senate language adds a dangerous loophole that changes a potentially green investment into subsidy for a dirty industry.

    CONFERENCE REPORT: Fossil energy funding is now $3.4 billion, with no specific terms or limitations.

    NUCLEAR WEAPONS

    Wonk Room: Senate’s Billion-Dollar Nuclear Weapons Provision Should Be Cut From Recovery Plan (2/10/09):
    Buried in the Senate version of the economic recovery plan — despite the “heroic” efforts of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), and other centrists to “fr[y] the bacon” — is an allocation of $1 billion to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) for “weapons activities.” This provision, divorced as it is from any semblance of national security strategy, should be eliminated.

    CONFERENCE REPORT: Nuclear weapons funding has been eliminated.

    ‘CLEAN ENERGYLOAN GUARANTEES

    Wonk Room: Senate Appropriators Add $50 Billion Nuclear Waste To Recovery Plan (1/30/09):
    On Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to increase nuclear loan guarantees by $50 billion in the economic recovery package (S. 336). This sum “would more than double the current loan guarantee cap of $38 billion” for “clean energy” technology.

    CONFERENCE REPORT: These loan guarantees have been eliminated.

    Senate Appropriators Add $50 Billion Nuclear Spending to Recovery Plan

    Posted by Wonk Room Fri, 30 Jan 2009 19:32:00 GMT

    From the Wonk Room.

    Three Mile IslandOn Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to increase “clean energy” loan guarantees by $50 billion in the economic recovery package (S. 336). This sum “would more than double the current loan guarantee cap of $38 billion” for “clean energy” technology:

    TITLE 17—INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY LOAN GUARANTEE PROGRAM

    The Committee also recommends an additional $50,000,000,000 to support the deployment of eligible technologies under the Section 1702(b)(2) of EPACT 2005 that will contribute to transforming the energy sector. This funding will add to the existing loan guarantee authority provided in other appropriations bills to support self-financed loan guarantees. The Committee is aware of the strong interest in the program and the large number of pending applications.

    In contrast, the committee allocated only $9.5 billion exclusively for “standard renewable energy projects.” Although the loan guarantee program covers nuclear technology, carbon capture and sequestration for coal plants, coal-to-liquids projects, and renewable energy, the vast bulk of requested loans – $122 billion – are for new nuclear power plants. This $50 billion nuclear line item nearly matches the total allocation for genuinely clean energy in the House version of the stimulus package: only $52 billion in total for smart grid, renewable energy, and energy efficiency investments.

    Unlike renewable energy and energy efficiency technology, investments in the nuclear industry generate few jobs or economic growth. The nuclear industry has developed through massive federal subsidization from research to deployment over decades. Such a massive expenditure of nuclear pork has no place in the economic recovery bill, according Brent Blackwelder of Friends of the Earth, who discovered the expenditure. Blackwelder called the appropriations “unconscionable”:
    Now is not the time for another bailout boondoggle. Nuclear power is the most expensive form of energy there is. It takes 10 years or more to build a reactor, so it is impossible to claim with a straight face that this preemptive bailout has anything to do with creating jobs. Senate appropriators’ decision to include such wasteful spending in the stimulus is an example of Washington at its worst.

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