On Wednesday, December 9th, President Barack Obama will participate in the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 15).
For the first time, the U.S. delegation will have a U.S. Center at the conference. U.S. delegates will keynote a series of events highlighting actions by the Obama Administration to provide domestic and global leadership in the transition to a clean energy economy. Topics will range from energy efficiency investments and global commitments to renewables policy and clean energy jobs. The following keynote events and speakers are currently scheduled:
- Wednesday, December 9th: Taking Action at Home, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson
- Thursday, December 10th: New Energy Future: the role of public lands in clean energy production and carbon capture, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar
- Friday, December 11th: Clean Energy Jobs in a Global Marketplace, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke
- Monday, December 14th: Leading in Energy Efficiency and Renewables, Energy Secretary Steven Chu
- Tuesday, December 15th: Clean Energy Investments: creating opportunities for rural economies, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
- Thursday, December 17th: Backing Up International Agreement with Domestic Action, CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley and Assistant to the President Carol Browner
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose envoy Todd Stern is in charge of U.S. climate negotiations, was not part of the announcements.
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
- 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
- Lisa Jackson, administrator – Barrasso
- Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for air and radiation – Barrasso
- Robert Perciasepe, deputy administrator – George Voinovich (R-Ohio)
- 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
- 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
- Hilda Solis, Secretary of Labor – anonymous R
- Craig Becker, National Labor Relations Board – McCain
- Jane Lubchenco, director of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Menendez, anonymous
- Craig Fugate, director – David Vitter (R-La.), released May 12
- Gary Gensler, chairman – Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), released May 14
On Wednesday, October 7, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will be joined by Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Carol Browner and other top Administration officials in hosting a Clean Energy Economy Forum at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with business leaders from around the country. The Administration officials will reiterate the need for a comprehensive energy plan that puts America back in control of its energy future and breaks a dependence on oil that threatens our economy, our environment, and our national security. They will also have the opportunity to answer questions from and get the perspective of business leaders who have first-hand experience creating jobs while contributing to American energy independence.
Speaking at the United Nations Climate Summit, President Barack Obama said “the time we have to reverse this tide is running out.” E&E News interviewed Senators on their schedule for action.John Barrasso (R-WY)
Max Baucus (D-MT)
“Nearly 1 in 10 Americans are looking for work. President Obama’s scheme is for less American energy production. Less energy production will mean fewer jobs for Americans.”
Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) also said yesterday that he is still planning a markup for key pieces of the climate bill that deal with international trade and allocation of allowances. “I’m going to take my cues largely from leader Reid to see what his schedule is, and how quickly climate change is moving this year. If it looks like it’s clearly moving, we’re going to mark up.”
Dick Durbin (D-IL)
For her part, Boxer would not give any specifics when asked about her timeline for moving the bill through the Environment and Public Works Committee. “We’re going to mark up shortly. As soon as we’ve held the requisite number of hearings.”
John Kerry (D-MA)
Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) was also circumspect about Obama’s call for moving the climate bill. “I want to get to all of these issues this year, as the president has asked us to. But I think Senator Reid is reflecting the reality of the calendar, and we just have to see what we end up with. Senator Boxer is preparing for the debate. She’s ready. But the question is whether we have the time to treat this issue as it should.” “The Europeans are our friends and allies and we need to work with them and the rest of the world on this climate change issue. But unfortunately, the European Union doesn’t have control over the Senate calendar. And Senator Reid, I think, is being honest that this is becoming problematic the longer it takes for us to get to health care.”
John McCain (R-AZ)
Boxer and Kerry are still aiming to release their legislation before the end of the month, though Kerry yesterday tried to give himself a little bit of wiggle room for its formal unveiling. “That’s our current plan. But we’ve got a lot of drafting to do between now and then. But we’re working on it.”
Harry Reid (D-NV)
“I’ll take second place to no one on climate change. I introduced the first cap-and-trade bill on the Senate floor. I introduced the second. All of them had nuclear power as a component. The radical environmentalists are driving the agenda. And for someone to say that they have a robust nuclear element, I’d love to see it. There’s been no indication of it.”
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) yesterday sidestepped a question about whether he would hold a vote before the end of the year on the Boxer-Kerry legislation. “We’re going to push climate as hard and as fast as we can.”
Van Jones, Special Advisor for Green Jobs at the Council on Environmental Quality resigned Saturday night. Below is the text of his resignation letter, sent to Chair Nancy Sutley:
I am resigning my post at the Council on Environmental Quality, effective today.
On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me. They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide.
I have been inundated with calls – from across the political spectrum – urging me to “stay and fight.”
But I came here to fight for others, not for myself. I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past. We need all hands on deck, fighting for the future.
It has been a great honor to serve my country and my President in this capacity. I thank everyone who has offered support and encouragement.
I am proud to have been able to make a contribution to the clean energy future. I will continue to do so, in the months and years ahead.
From the Wonk Room.
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.”
From the Wonk Room.
Van Jones is well known for expressing an inclusive vision for a green economy. He has challenged progressives to stop “getting rolled by the Happy Meal politics” of conservatives, who sell unhealthy policies under feel-good slogans. In response to the $700 billion Wall Street bailout last October, he called for a “green bailout” to “retrofit and repower America using clean, green energy — and create millions of new jobs, in the process.”
From the Wonk Room.
Even as the appointment of Dr. John Holdren as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is held up by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), new hires at the OSTP have been made. The Wonk Room has learned that two veterans of the Clinton White House have taken top positions at the office, which “serves as a source of scientific and technological analysis and judgment” for the President.
From the Wonk Room.
Obama’s climate scientists are collateral damage in an unrelated fight over Cuba policy with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ). Menendez is responsible for an anonymous hold on the nominations of Dr. John Holdren and Dr. Jane Lubchenco, both world-renowned experts on climate change and the physical sciences. Holdren and Lubchenco “sailed through” their confirmation hearing on February 12. But as the Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin reports, Menendez has anonymously blocked their full Senate confirmation “as leverage to get Senate leaders’ attention for a matter related to Cuba rather than questioning the nominees’ credentials.” Menendez, a Cuban American, took to the Senate floor last night “to deliver a withering denunciation” of proposed changes to U.S.-Cuban relations included in the budget omnibus:
We should evaluate how to encourage the regime to allow a legitimate opening – not in terms of cell phones and hotel rooms that Cubans can’t afford, but in terms of the right to organize, the right to think and speak what they believe. However, what we are doing with this Omnibus bill, Mr. President, is far from evaluation, and the process by which these changes have been forced upon this body is so deeply offensive to me, and so deeply undemocratic, that it puts the Omnibus appropriations package in jeopardy, in spite of all the other tremendously important funding that this bill would provide.
Menendez points to a memo prepared by the staff of Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) as recommending a policy change that Menendez worries could “rescue the regime by improving its economic fortunes,” namely giving Cuba “financial credit to purchase agricultural products from the U.S.”
These picks have in fact languished for months, having been put forward by President Obama on December 20. Lubchenco’s nomination to be administrator of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) has been stalled in part by the turmoil over finding a Secretary of Commerce, whose department includes NOAA. NOAA career staff are gamely working to draft a spending plan for the $830 million in the recently passed recovery act, and energy adviser Carol Browner is managing climate policy from the White House with a skeleton staff. But the Office of Science and Technology Policy is a key White House office, and its director Holdren is meant to be the top science adviser to the president. The “wise counsel” of Holdren and Lubchenco is irreplaceable, especially given the scope of the challenges our nation faces.
Menendez spokesman Afshin Mohamadi declined to comment on the putatively anonymous hold. “He takes a back seat to no one on the environment,” Mohamadi discussed by telephone, saying the senator’s “record best reflects his feelings on the urgency of combatting climate change.” When asked if Sen. Menendez hopes to have climate legislation on President Obama’s desk before the end of 2009, Mohamadi explained that Sen. Menendez believes it “would be helpful to have it in place going into the December international climate change conference in Copenhagen.”
From the Wonk Room.
Speaking before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, President Barack Obama declared that his plan to restore America’s economic prosperity “begins with energy.” The details of his proposed budgetary outline reveal what Obama meant:
- Restoration of Superfund.
- In 2002, Bush crippled Superfund, the federal program for cleaning up the most toxic sites in America, by eliminating the tax on industrial polluters “that once generated about $1 billion a year.” President Obama’s budget reinstates Superfund taxes in 2011, restoring $17 billion over ten years to the depleted program.
- Polluters Pay To Fight Climate Change And Make Work Pay.
- The Bush administration rejected the Kyoto Protocol in 2001, and instituted a voluntary program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2002, which instead rose. President Obama calls for a mandatory cap on carbon emissions starting in 2012, expected to raise $645.7 billion over ten years. Instead of sending those revenues back to the polluters, $15 billion a year will go to clean energy technologies, with the rest funding the Making Work Pay tax credit to reduce payroll taxes for every working American.
- Ending Tax Breaks For Fossil Fuel Industry.
- Oil, natural gas, and coal companies enjoyed record profits in recent years, even as numerous incentives and tax breaks for companies that drill and mine our shared resources were protected. President Obama’s budget eliminates $31.75 billion in oil and gas company giveaways and increases the return from natural resources on federal lands by $2.9 billion over ten years.
In a column at the Center for American Progress, director of climate strategy Dan Weiss analyzes the budget and finds: “President Obama’s proposed energy budget is a ray of sunshine after an eight-year blackout. Congress must now make this clean energy future a reality.”