SENATE SUMMARY 7/29/2009Max Baucus (D-MT)
Kent Conrad (D-ND)
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.”
Byron Dorgan (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.
James Inhofe (R-OK)
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.”
Mike Johanns (D-NE)
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.
John McCain (R-AZ)
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.”
Jay Rockefeller (R-WV)
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.”
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.”
Senate Watch: Barrasso, Bingaman, Boxer, Brown, Carper, Dorgan, Durbin, Johanns, Kerry, McCain, McCaskill, Merkley, Nelson, Reid, Roberts, Voinovich
Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
E&E News “Last year, the committee produced a bill, got to the floor, never got anywhere,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), a member of the EPW Committee. “I’m expecting the same thing this year.”
Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
E&E News Earlier this year, Bingaman said he would rather see the Senate tackle energy on its own and then come back to climate. Bingaman last week was not as specific, saying that that “there are a lot of complex questions that obviously are raised by cap-and-trade proposals.” “We’re still in a learning process in most committees,” he added. . . “I assume [Reid]’s waiting to see what the various committees come up with before he makes any judgment,” Bingaman said. “He’s got a difficult job packaging it all up and figuring what the procedure ought to be that gets us to a positive conclusion.”
Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
E&E News “To me, the more committees that are involved, the happier I am, because you get more and more colleagues that get to understand it, that get to be part of it,” Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) told reporters last week. “The more colleagues that play a role, the better.” . . . “I am going to have to walk away from some things I believe should be in the bill,” she said.
Tom Carper (D-DE)
Roll Call Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) has been pressing to make sure the measure won’t create an incentive for manufacturing companies to move jobs overseas to China or India. Brown said he hasn’t gotten much traction in his push for trade protections, but he predicted that top negotiators could not afford to ignore him. “They don’t likely get a bill if they don’t deal with manufacturing,” he said.
Byron Dorgan (D-ND)
E&E News Yet other Democrats on the committee, including Baucus and Sens. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.), will push Boxer toward the middle. “My hope is the legislation when it leaves our committee will be centrist,” Carper said.
E&E News Moments after hosting a DPC luncheon with three corporate executives who support cap-and-trade legislation last week, Dorgan took to the floor for about 10 minutes to question efforts in the Senate to move on climate via the House-passed bill. “I know a lot of work has gone into that legislation, but my preference would be that we start to explore other directions,” Dorgan said, citing concerns about speculative trading in the carbon markets.
Roll Call “I am for a low-carbon future,” Dorgan said. “But, in my judgment, those that would bring to the floor of the Senate a replication of what has been done in the House, with over 400 pages describing the cap-and-trade piece, will find very little favor from me, and I expect from some others as well. There are better, other and more direct ways to do this to protect our planet.”
Mike Johanns (R-NE)
E&E News There is no guarantee that the committee work will actually lead to the 60 votes needed to defeat an expected Republican filibuster. For instance, things have not gone as smoothly as Democrats hoped on health care, another of President Obama’s top agenda items. “I hope it’ll make them more open to a solution,” said Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). “It hasn’t worked that way on health care. Not yet.”
John Kerry (D-MA)
McCook Gazette Sen. Mike Johanns spoke on the Senate floor today regarding the impact cap-and-trade legislation would have on American agriculture. In advance of a hearing to be held on Wednesday in the Senate Agriculture Committee, Johanns outlined how agriculture will be hammered with increased production costs as a result of cap-and-trade. He reiterated that state- and commodity-specific analyses of cap-and-trade are essential for a successful evaluation of the true costs and Administration-promised benefits.
John McCain (R-AZ)
E&E News “I’m finding there’s a desire by the people we’re talking to to want to find a solution,” Kerry told reporters last week, citing meetings he has held with Brown, Lincoln, Pryor and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).
Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
Roll Call Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who promised to enact global warming legislation during his 2008 presidential campaign, said none of the principal Democratic negotiators on climate change has reached out to him. He noted he is working, as he did last year, with Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) on a climate change bill. “I have not lost my zeal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” he said. “But I don’t think [Democratic leaders] have any Republicans.”
Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Roll Call “Right now we’re focused on health care, and no one wants to think about the next big hard thing until we finish this big hard thing,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said. She joked that the success of a climate bill could “depend on if we’re still speaking to each other after health care.”
Ben Nelson (D-NE)
E&E News “There is a tremendous amount of sequestering potential, but we have to have it work,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). “It has to have a high level of integrity, if there is too much of a loophole it will be irrelevant and ineffective.”
Harry Reid (D-NV)
Roll Call Still, Democrats said the bare majority that House leaders eked out for their bill last month has many worried about the ability of Senate Democrats to cobble together the 60 votes needed to beat back a filibuster. “If they had a close vote in the House, it makes it more difficult in the Senate to get us to 60 votes,” said Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), whose vote Democratic leaders will have to court.
Pat Roberts (R-KS)
E&E News Back across the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will be in position by late September to work through all of the different climate bills that clear the committees. At that point, he plans to open up his door to lawmakers who still have concerns and demands, following a pattern many remember in 1990 when then Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D-Maine) helped construct the last major set of Clean Air Act amendments. “That’s what my responsibility is, so that’s what I have to do.” Reid told E&E last week. . . Asked about the path to 60 votes, Reid acknowledged he will have plenty of work to do at every stage of the process. “I’ve got six chairmen to deal with for beginners,” he said.
George Voinovich (R-OH)
E&E News Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), a member of the Agriculture Committee, urged Harkin and ranking member Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) to play an even greater role in slowing down the climate bill compared with the House, where Peterson raised objections but ultimately went along for the ride. “I hope that both he [Harkin] and Saxby take the climate change bill by the horns and corral it,” Roberts said.
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
E&E News “If you just go through the members of the committee, and you figure it out, all of them are going to have some major problems,” said Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio). “So they’re going to have to try and satisfy them. And in the process of trying to satisfy them, they’re going to lose support from the environmental groups that want us to throw the gauntlet down and take a leadership role.”
E&E News On the surface, Boxer’s EPW Committee would appear to be a cake walk for moving a climate bill. “We have a pretty distinct majority, so if we can’t, shame on us,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), referring to his party’s 12-7 edge in the committee. On her left, Boxer is hearing demands from Whitehouse and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) to tighten up the emission limits beyond the House-passed bill’s 17 percent target for 2020. “Anything we can’t do goes off the table,” Whitehouse said last week. “The move on the Senate floor will be rightward. And therefore, we’ve got to do our job to keep as many possibilities open for the floor as possible.”
Senate Watch: Alexander, Bond, Boxer, Carper, Chambliss, Corker, Inhofe, Kerry, Kyl, Landrieu, Lincoln, McCain, Murkowski, Reid, Voinovich, Whitehouse
U.S. Senators making the news on climate change and clean energy.
Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
E&E News Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) challenged Democrats for pushing a climate bill that he said would pick winners and losers in the energy industry. “I wonder why we have a national windmill policy instead of a national clean energy policy,” said Alexander, himself an outspoken advocate for nuclear power.
Kit Bond (R-MO)
WSJ So much talk about wind turbines exhausted the patience of Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander, who again called for a nuclear solution to America’s energy woes. “Is nuclear power renewable energy?” he asked Mr. Doerr.
Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Reuters “My fear is that what the recession and faulty management decisions did to the auto industry, the U.S. Congress will do intentionally to the rest of Midwest manufacturing—kill U.S. jobs and drive many of them overseas to China,” said Republican Senator Kit Bond of Missouri.
Politico Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who faces an uphill fight in shepherding the bill through the Senate, says she appreciates all the attention from up the street. “It’s really been a pleasure for me, because last time I did this, I had an administration that was fighting me at every turn,” she said. “Here, I have a very supportive administration, so it’s a very nice change for us.”
E&E News “I think it’s very important we understand that the approach we’re taking, we don’t pick winners or losers. We put a cap on carbon and let the marketplace do it,” Boxer said. She highlighted the U.S. EPA analysis of the House bill that estimates it could lead to 260 new 1,000 megawatt nuclear plants by 2050. After Alexander called on President Obama to support his proposal for more nuclear plants, Boxer replied: “It is very clear he doesn’t have to support your proposal. His [support of the House bill] results in more nuclear power plants being built.” Boxer added after a hearing yesterday, “I think if you look at Waxman-Markey, the prediction is there being well over 100 nuke plants. I don’t know that we’ll need to have more than that. But we’ll certainly look at all of these issues.”
IB Times “When we unleash the American innovative spirit, we will drive economic growth and create jobs and create whole new industries here at home. American entrepreneurs will create jobs,” Chairman Barbara Boxer said. Boxer also said the Senate will do “more than protect consumers.” “You are going to hear some widely different views on how much is going to cost consumers,” Boxer told the panel. “But we have the modeling and we know what it is, we know what the Waxman-Markey bill shows,” Boxer added.
Talk Radio News “At the end of the day, our competitiveness in the world economy will depend on how we face the challenge of global warming,” said Sen. Boxer (D-Calif.)
E&E News “I expect there will be a modest nuclear title in the bill coming out of committee and we will add to that on the floor,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee, told reporters earlier this week. This conclusion comes after discussions with Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), he said.
E&E News Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), for example, took issue with EPW ranking member James Inhofe after the Oklahoma Republican interrupted him during questioning. “Damn it,” Carper said. “I want to be given the respect that I gave you.”
Bob Corker (R-TN)
Reuters Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, a Democrat, said the extra time will give lawmakers more time to craft a better bill. “We have this extra two months, it’s been almost a gift. We need to put it to good use,” Carper said. He said Democrats could possibly attract more support from moderate Republicans by doing more to promote nuclear power in the legislation. “I think it’s important for us to remember that nuclear energy is carbon free and that there is an expanded role for nuclear,” Carper said.
Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
E&E News Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), another possible supporter, said the money or free allocations flowing to special interests is “offensive.” “Certainly our energy bill has nuclear in it and hopefully it sees the light of day, but it is not going to make up for the tremendous defects that occur in the House bill,” Corker said.
IB Times A major new energy bill won’t spur economic development and create new jobs, Republican Senators said Thursday during a public hearing. . . “If the bill actually creates jobs then there will be no need for any of these, a section on unemployment benefits, job relocation and all the rest of that,” Oklahoma Senator Inhofe said during his opening comments at the hearings today.
John Kerry (D-MA)
Talk Radio News “Waxman-Markey is a tax increase on the American people, that’s the whole point of cap-and-trade, which is to make energy more expensive so we use it less,” said Ranking Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.).
Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
Politico In March, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) hosted a dinner at his Georgetown home to discuss how to move climate change legislation through the Senate. Attendees included Chu, Stern, Jackson, energy and climate czar Carol Browner, science and technology adviser John Holdren and Stern’s deputy, Jonathan Pershing. Economic adviser Lawrence Summers was to be there, too, but canceled after Obama called him away for a last-minute meeting. “Everyone is involved,” said Kerry. “People are all doing a lot of different meetings and coming together each week to share the information and strategy.”
Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
Casa Grande Valley Newspapers “At a time when the economy remains shaky and unemployment has reached a 25-year high, Congress should not be considering new taxes. They would be bad for families and would slow the economic recovery as well. The Senate could take up the House legislation, known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act, though it may not do so until September. That would give all Americans time to register their opinions on the bill. . . This year won’t be the first time that the Senate has considered cap-and-trade. In 2008, similar legislation went down to defeat, and this year’s version will once again face opposition from Senate Republicans and some moderate Democrats. If Americans communicate their opinions about this bill to their representatives in Congress, I am convinced it can be defeated again.”
Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)
E&E News “Adding a nuclear title to the climate change bill would be just one of many improvements needed to secure Senator Landrieu’s vote,” said Aaron Saunders, a spokesman for Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).
John McCain (R-AZ)
E&E News Fellow fence-sitter Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) also wants to see incentives for nuclear energy in any climate bill she would support but also more for biomass, natural gas and other fuels as part of an “all of the above” approach, Lincoln spokeswoman Katie Laning Niebaum said.
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
E&E News Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a key potential Republican supporter, told reporters this week including a nuclear title is “vital” to his support for a climate bill. But McCain has also roundly criticized many other parts of the House climate bill, which Boxer has stated is the starting point for her committee draft. McCain said the “1,400-page monstrosity” House bill contains too many giveaways to special interests and trade protection measures.
Harry Reid (D-NV)
E&E News Sen. Lisa Murkowski, (R-Alaska), ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, would welcome a stronger nuclear title in the climate bill but there are several other problems, such as the cost of the bill, said spokesman Robert Dillon. “At this point she is not supporting a cap-and-trade bill,” Dillon said. “No one can give us a clear estimate about the cost. ... There are more questions than answers that people need to have before they are going to say they are going to start supporting this bill.”
George Voinovich (R-OH)
E&E News Reid this week said he would be open to a nuclear component but, “we just have to do it the right way.”
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
E&E News Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) said authors of the House bill knew this when they wrote provisions that set up Labor Department-led worker retraining programs. “There’s no credible analysis that suggests this bill will be a net job creator,” Voinovich said.
Politico Administration officials have also been frequent visitors to a regular Tuesday meeting of as many as 20 senators focused on climate and energy legislation. Jackson, Stern, Browner, senior political strategist David Axelrod and legislative liaison Jay Heimbach have all attended the meeting. “When they are invited, they come,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), a frequent attendee. “We’ve been very pleased by the responsiveness of the administration.”
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.”
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]
From the Wonk Room.
After 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:
- H. Res. 587: Adoption of the rule to set the terms of debate, officially three hours in total.
- H.R. 2998: Adoption of the Waxman amendment in the nature of the substitute.
- H.R. 513: Adoption of J. Randy Forbes (R-VA) substitute, the New Manhattan Project for Energy Independence.
- Motion to recommit.
- 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.
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.
From the Wonk Room.
“House Democrats filed a 1,201-page energy package late Monday night,” the latest version of the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454), “and said they are confident that they will resolve all outstanding issues in time for a vote Friday.”
The Charleston Gazette reports: “Coal mining costs Appalachians five times more in early deaths as the industry provides to the region in jobs, taxes and other economic benefits, according to a groundbreaking new study co-authored by a West Virginia University researcher.”
“Switzerland’s glaciers shrank by 12 percent over the past decade, melting at their fastest rate due to rising temperatures and lighter snowfalls, a study by the Swiss university ETH showed Monday.”
During last year’s Democratic primary, Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA) “relied heavily on Al Gore’s endorsement” despite having “never been out in front on global warming,” but is now threatening to “vote down” the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act.
Utah’s next governor, Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert (R-UT) told the Western Governors’ Association “it appears to him science on global warming is not necessarily conclusive.” He is replacing Gov. Jon Huntsman, nominated to be the ambassador to China, who entered Utah into the Western Climate Initiative.
“Aides to Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) are in southern West Virginia for what they call a three-day fact-finding tour about mountaintop removal mining,” meeting with “coal industry officials, environmentalists and citizens.”
From the Wonk Room.
In an agricultural hearing Thursday, committee chair Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) offered a withering critique of the comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation under consideration by the House of Representatives. Peterson, a conservative Blue Dog Democrat, attacked the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) for including both clean energy and global warming pollution standards:
My big problem is that they are mixing climate change together with energy independence. I don’t think that is smart.
Peterson, like other skeptics of action on climate change, does not want Congress to consider the entire lifecycle of energy use. Others, including Vice President Al Gore, have argued our energy and climate crises are “linked by a common thread – our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels.”
Strongly supported by corporate agriculture contributors, Peterson is attempting to alter Waxman-Markey to limit regulations of agriculture subsidies.
By replacing petroleum, biofuels have the potential to dramatically reduce global warming pollution. But scientists have found biofuels can also worsen global warming by encouraging farmers to cut down the diversity-rich tropical forests that soak up carbon dioxide. Similarly, farmers may be able to trap more carbon in soil and plants through changes in agricultural practices, allowing them to sell billions of dollars of “offsets” in a carbon cap-and-trade market. But experts such as Joseph Romm of the Center for American Progress have explained that poorly regulated offsets are little more than worthless subsidies.The Environmental Protection Agency is considering the global warming consequences of biofuel production as it develops new renewable fuels standards. Similarly, Waxman-Markey would put the EPA Administrator and an independent scientific board in charge of devising the rules for agricultural offsets to maintain their integrity. Peterson’s response:
A lot of us on the Committee do not want the EPA near our farms. And, I don’t think you are going to get any type of a bill through Congress, whatever the administration wants, that is going to have that system, for whatever it is worth.At Grist, Tom Philpott responds to Peterson:
The current version of Waxman-Markey contains almost no language on agriculture. (As I’ve written before, agriculture is exempt from any cap on greenhouse-gas emissions.) But farming projects would still be eligible for offsets through an offsets-review board that the legislation would set up within the EPA. Big Ag isn’t content with that arrangement. In the coming days, the game will be to insert specific language around ag offsets into the legislation—and promote a certification process developed by Big Ag itself.
From the Wonk Room.
“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.