Boucher Releases White Paper on "Appropriate Roles for Different Levels of Government" 10

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 26 Feb 2008 01:40:00 GMT

In the middle of September 2007, Rick Boucher (D-W.Va.), chair of the the the Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee of John Dingell’s Energy and Commerce Committee, announced he would be releasing a series of white papers “over the next six weeks” on issues related to the development of climate change legislation. The third such paper, Appropriate Roles for Different Levels of Government, has now been released.

After reviewing state, local and regional initiatives to combat global warming emissions, in its discussion of the possible costs of local regulations in addition to a federal cap-and-trade system, the 25-page white paper bores in on the question of federal preemption. This issue was highlighted in December by EPA administrator Stephen Johnson’s denial of California’s waiver request under the Clean Air Act to regulate tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions. Johnson’s decision spurred a multi-state lawsuit, an investigation by House Oversight chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), and contentious Senate hearings.

The paper follows statements made previously by committee chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) supporting Johnson’s stated justification for denying the waiver:
One key factor that distinguishes climate change from other pollution problems our country has tackled is that local greenhouse gas emissions do not cause local environmental or health problems, except to the extent that the emissions contribute to global atmospheric concentrations. This characteristic of greenhouse gases stands in contrast to most pollution problems, where emissions adversely affect people locally where the emissions occur. The global nature of climate change takes away (or at least greatly minimizes) one of the primary reasons many national environmental programs have provisions preserving State authority to adopt and enforce environmental programs that are more stringent than Federal programs: States have a responsibility to protect their own citizens.
In its concluding remarks, the paper summarizes the internal committee battle:
As the debate over whether the Federal Government should preempt California’s greenhouse gas motor vehicle standards has shown, Committee Members balance these various factors in a way that can lead to different conclusions that will need to be worked out through the legislative process. Chairman Dingell has made it very clear that he believes that motor vehicle greenhouse gas standards should be set by the Federal Government, not by State governments: greenhouse gases are global (not local) pollutants, multiple programs would be an undue burden on interstate commerce and would waste societal and governmental resources without reducing national emissions, and the competing interests of different States should be resolved at the Federal level. Other Committee Members have reached the opposite conclusion given the severity of the climate change problem, the need to push technological development, and the benefits of having States act as laboratories.

GM Chief Asks Dealers to Lobby Against State-Level Greenhouse Limits 16

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 11 Feb 2008 19:03:00 GMT

From the AP:
General Motors Corp. CEO Rick Wagoner urged a group of auto dealers Saturday to lobby against individual states trying to set their own limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

Wagoner, speaking to the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in San Francisco, said several states want to go beyond requirements passed by Congress.

If that happens and automakers must focus on state regulations, they won’t be able to focus as much on alternative fuel vehicles to reduce oil consumption and pollution, he said.

“We’re not going to be able to accomplish everything that we otherwise could,” Wagoner said. . .

“We need to work together to educate policymakers at the state and local levels on the importance of tough but national standards,” Wagoner told the dealers group.

He also said dealers and automakers should push for infrastructure to handle new technologies including hydrogen and ethanol fueling stations and charging stations for electric vehicles.

GM is the official vehicle provider for the Democratic National Convention, a decision highlighted as part of the DNC’s “green” mission:
“GM’s leadership in this area will play a critical role in our event – helping us make this the ‘greenest’ political convention our country has ever seen, while providing our guests with yet another convenient option for getting around Denver.”
– Leah Daughtry, DNC CEO
Once we talked to them about how we really wanted to push the environmental piece, they were 100 percent on board.
– Cameron Moody, the DNCC’s director of operations
This will be a great showcase to change perceptions about GM and to show we are taking leadership.
– GM spokesman Greg Martin

State Energy Activities: Innovative Solutions and Funding Issues 4

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 05 Feb 2008 20:30:00 GMT

The Northeast/Midwest Senate and House Coalitions in conjunction with the Environmental and Energy Study Institute invite you to a briefing at which three state officials will present a summary of activities in the U.S. states on pressing energy problems and the impact of high energy prices on the American public. They will also discuss innovative energy programs that address the problems of all U.S. citizens and current federal funding for critical activities including the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the Low-Income Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and the State Energy Program (SEP).

Panel
  • Tom Plant, Director, Governor’s Energy Office, State of Colorado, on behalf of the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO)
  • Vaughn Clark, Director, Office of Community Development, State of Oklahoma and President, National Association for State Community Service Programs (NASCSP)
  • Mark Wolfe, Executive Director, National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association(NEADA)

This briefing is open to the public, no RSVP required. For more information, contact Chris Hickling, Legislative Director, Northeast Midwest Congressional Coalition (202-224-4642) chris_hickling@reed.senate.gov

Regions: The Building Blocks to a Sustainable Nation 2

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 04 Feb 2008 13:00:00 GMT

This year’s conference will:
  • Feature the regional role and federal outlook on significant policy areas that will dominate the 2008 legislative year, Presidential race and beyond.
  • Explore, in detail, the federal fiscal future, SAFETEA-LU reauthorization, water infrastructure and resources, regional development in a global economy, and energy policy and innovations, as well as the possible outcome of the 2008 Presidential race.
  • Address rural and urban coordination in federal legislation.
  • Engage nationally recognized experts, Congressional members and staff, and other DC Associations to discuss important topics that are shaping regions.
  • Set the 2008 NARC Legislative Agenda.

For more information, please email Shannon Menard (shannon@narc.org) or call 202.986.1032, x.217.

Omni Shoreham Hotel
2500 Calvert Street, NW

Reorienting the U.S. Global Change Research Program Toward a User-Driven Research Endeavor

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 03 May 2007 18:00:00 GMT

Reps. Mark Udall (D-CO) and Bob Inglis (R-SC) introduced the Global Change Research and Data Management Act to strengthen and streamline federal climate change research and reorient it for state and local governments, planners and researchers, replacing the U.S. Global Change Research Program established in 1990.

Witnesses

  • Dr. Philip Mote, Climatologist, State of Washington
  • Dr. Michael MacCracken, President, International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences
  • Dr. Jack Fellows, Vice President, UCAR
  • Franklin Nutter, President, Reinsurance Assocation of America
  • Sarah Bittleman
  • Dr. James Mahoney

2:50 Dr. Mote They want to know what the probable changes are in rainfall, snowfall, and streamflow. The Northwest Hydropower Council wanted streamflow estimates. There’s already been an observed shift of two weeks in the start of the snowmelt. A national climate service is needed. To properly construct probabilistic scenarios at the regional level would require using tens of models; it would be too much for a regional center to undertake. Sea-level rise. Monitoring the climate, as HR 906 rightly addresses. The monitoring networks are slowly dwindling. The American Association of State Climatologists calls on Congress to save these networks from decline.

2:55 In recess.

3:20 Ms. Bittleman I work for the governor of Oregon here in Washington DC. The Western Governors Association appreciates the effort to make this bill relevant to the western states. The US has spent considerable dollars on understanding the science of climate change. Now the time has come to fund the study of adaptation. I need to recite some of the very real changes: smaller snowpacks, more extreme floods, more droughts, more wildfire, pests and disease. Congress and the Administration should fund research that makes mitigation and adaptation easier. Some states are creating their own climate change research centers, including Oregon. It is important that the program under HR 906 integrates the state offices and regional centers. We recommend that the bill be amended to establish a national climate information service, as Dr. Mote mentioned. Additionally the NCIS could provide national policy papers.

Decision makers at all levels of government and the private sector need accurate information.

3:27 Udall Are you saying the director of the USGCRP needs direct budget authority?

Fellows I think that the director of USGCRP have some level of budget authority and be close enough to the political center to push changes. When I was at the OMB we had every agency come in and present their programs.

Mahoney I had a hybrid position; I was Senate-confirmed, so I had a political position and access to the top of the OMB and the relevant cabinet officers. I think there should be a definite recognized management and coordination function. The division that generates the reports is greatly underresourced. Some direction by the Congress to see a more effective and efficient process would be a positive step.

3:32 Inglis The bill calls for the program to be updated every four years. Any thoughts?

MacCracken The first was developed in the early 1990s. We shifted in the mid-1990s, though without a formal plan. You do need to take a different perspective. There’s no optimal way to cut this problem into pieces. Requiring something in an update is useful.

Fellows The world climate society takes a look every five years. It would be interesting to look if you staggered the vulnerability and policy assessments, but the four-five year cycle is good.

3:35 Inglis One degree fahrenheit change and we have no more mountain trout.

Bittleman From the state perspective the entire process of data collection and how climate change is being experienced on the ground is what’s important. Every year the states are acting based on the data coming in. When there’s a year date for a report, that’s not as important as the flexibility to include the data, activity that are happening in the states.

3:37 Udall Regional vs. national assessments. How do we ensure the USGCRP meets both needs? I don’t see these things as separate. In Oregon and the Pacific Northwest we would like to gather information on a watershed level. We would like to see all of this information integrated. We see the possibility of integration being the real hope.

Nutter From the insurance perspective, regional assessments are imperative. The effect of climate change on extreme weather events in the Gulf is different from the Midwest or the Northeast.

McCracken We have tried to have sector assessments. If you’re interested in the forests locally, you need a regional perspective. If you’re looking at forest industry, you need national perspective. We also need the international perspective—migratory species, foreign investments, global health, refugees. The IPCC kind of looks at this, but hasn’t really taken a look at individual countries.

Udall Wehn we figure this out as a human race we’ll have created a template to face other challenges we’ll face. That keeps me going.

McCracken Climate change is intimately tied to meeting the Millenium Goals. It is all coupled and has to be looked at this way.

3:43 Nutter Those who look at protecting people’s property and lives. New York State has $2 trillion of insured properties. It’s a remarkable exposure to extreme weather events and climate change. This bill will have a real impact.

MacCracken In the 1990s we didn’t want climate change to be a justification for funding fusion research, for example. One of the things we struggled with in creating a useful assessment was what to focus on. That whole social science part of what has to be in climate change research isn’t well funded.

Mote Another aspect of this separation is that mitigating and adapting sometimes come together. As we design portfolios of alternative energy, are they resilient to climate changes? Such as hydropower. Climate change actually makes our hydropower generation more in line with demand for Washington, but means there will be less spare power for California in the summer.

3:50 Inglis Thank you.

Udall Thank you for appearing. I take the challenge of addressing global warming, as does Rep. Inglis and many other members of the House, very seriously. It’s one of our highest priorities in the Congress. This hearing is now adjourned.