Wildfires and the Climate Crisis

Thu, 01 Nov 2007 13:30:00 GMT

The Select Committee on Energy Independence & Global Warming will hold a hearing on Thursday, November 1, at 9:30 a.m. in room TBD. The hearing is entitled, “Wildfires and the Climate Crisis.” Witnesses will be by invitation only.

See Markey’s dear colleague letter on the topic.

Markup of S.2191, to direct the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to establish a program to decrease emissions of greenhouse gases

Thu, 01 Nov 2007 13:00:00 GMT

Markup of America’s Climate Security Act, S. 2191.

Prior to hearing changes were made to secure the support of Sen. Lautenberg, ensuring passage with the votes of Lieberman, Baucus, Lautenberg, and Warner. The changes made in the form of a substitute amendment, according to CQ:
  • Extending the scope of the bill to cover all emissions from the use of natural gas. The introduced bill covers natural gas burned in power plants and industrial processes but not in commercial and residential buildings.
  • Requiring the EPA to make recommendations to Congress based on periodic reports from the National Academy of Sciences. The bill already would direct the academy to evaluate whether changes in the law are necessary, based on the state of the environment and available technology.
Amendments were introduced by Sen. Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Barrasso (R-Wyo.). Changes made by amendments adopted at the markup:
  • Advanced tech auto funding limited to vehicles with minimum of 35 mpg (Sanders 3)
  • More allocations given to states (Barrasso 4)
  • Low-rank coal definition changed from coal below 9000 BTU to 10000 BTU (Barrasso 2)

Live-blog informal transcript of the hearing is below.

On the Road to U.N.-Bali Climate Change: Creating Global Consensus on a Sustainable Model of an Avioided Deforestation

Thu, 01 Nov 2007 12:30:00 GMT

As the Kyoto Protocol will expire in 2012, world leaders will gather in Bali in December, 2007 to discuss future alternative solutions tackling climate change issues.

The United States has agreed to join this group of world leaders as an active participant in the Bali summit and is willing to work with other countries to establish initiatives.

Indonesia, as the host country together with Forestry- 11 (countries with the largest tropical rainforests) is committed to preserving its environment as long as such efforts do not negatively impact its economy.

Global Nexus Institute, an Indonesian based think tank with offices in Jakarta and Washington DC invites you to join us in a discussion on these issues.

  • What happened with the Kyoto Treaty and what should we expect from Bali?
  • What is the US position on this issue?
  • Is Sustainable Development using Avoided Deforestation the answer to the climate change challenge?
  • What will it take to implement it?
  • Who is going to finance it?
  • How do we determine the baseline and monitoring system?

WELCOMING REMARKS His Excellency Sudjadnan Parnohadiningrat, Indonesian Ambassador to the United States

THE SPEAKERS
  • Gerhard Dieterle – Forestry Advisor, World Bank
  • Steven Ruddell – Director of Forest Investnment & Sustainibility, Forecon Inc.
  • Dr. Neil Franklin – Sustainability Director, APRIL Asia
  • Annie Petsonk – International Counsel, Environmental Defense
  • Harlan Watson – U.S. Department of State
  • Christianto Wibisono – President, Global Nexus Institute
MODERATOR
  • Paul Miller, Partner, Miller/Wenhold Capitol Strategies

Holeman Lounge at the National Press Club 529 14th Street NW, Washington DC 20045

Climate disclosure, focusing on measuring financial risks and opportunities

Wed, 31 Oct 2007 18:30:00 GMT

Committee page

Witnesses
  • Dr. Gary Yohe, Professor of Economics, Wesleyan University
  • Mr. Jeffery Smith, Partner in Charge of Environmental Practice, Cravath, Swaine, and Moore
  • Ms. Mindy Lubber, President, Ceres
  • Mr. Russell Read, Chief Investment Officer, California Public Employees’ Retirement System

Opportunities for Bioenergy Production in Every State

Wed, 31 Oct 2007 18:30:00 GMT

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) invites you to learn about the extensive biomass resources that are available in every state and region of the country to be tapped for sustainable production of electric power and heat. In 2005, bioenergy was the largest component of renewable electricity production in the nation, comprising 56 percent of all renewable electricity and 1.3 percent of total electricity. This percentage can be increased significantly since each state has important biomass resources that can be utilized sustainably to produce clean, renewable, domestic energy right now. Despite the skepticism of its opponents, bioenergy has the potential to sustainably reduce greenhouse gas emissions, boost rural economies, provide jobs, revitalize rural communities, support farming, and implement sustainable forest stewardship.

Speakers for this event include:
  • Larry Biles, Executive Director, Southern Forest Research Partnership
  • Robert H. Davis, President, Forest Energy Corporation/Member, Future Forest, LLC.
  • Dr. David Bransby, Professor of Energy Crops and Bioenergy, Auburn University
  • Robert E. Cleaves, President, Cleaves and Company/Member, USA Biomass Power Producers Alliance

Research to Improve Water-Use Efficiency and Conservation: Technologies and Practices 1

Tue, 30 Oct 2007 18:00:00 GMT

On Tuesday, October 30, 2007 the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment of the Committee on Science and Technology will hold a hearing to receive testimony on H.R. 3957, The Water- Use Efficiency and Conservation Research Act of 2007. The purpose of the hearing is to evaluate the need for research and development of technologies and processes to enhance water use efficiency and water conservation. The Committee will also ascertain perspectives on current federal efforts to promote water-use efficiency and conservation through programs such as the WaterSense program of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Witnesses
  • Glen Daigger, Vice President at CH2MHill
  • Ed Clerico, CEO of Alliance Environmental and Designer at the Solaire Project in NYC
  • Val Little, Director of the Water Conservation Alliance of Southern Arizona
  • Ron Thompson, District Manager of the Washington County Water Conservancy District
  • John Veil, Senior Scientist at Argonne National Laboratory

Renewable Energy and the Global Environment

Tue, 30 Oct 2007 18:00:00 GMT

Witnesses

Panel I
  • The Honorable Reno Harnish III, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, U.S. Department of State
  • Mr. John Mizroch, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Mr. John A. Simon, Executive Vice President, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)
  • Mr. Michael W. Yost, Administrator, Foreign Agriculture Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Panel II
  • Mr. Sanjay Puri, President and CEO, U.S. India Business Alliance
  • Mr. Redmond Clark, Chairman and CEO, CBL Industrial Services

Loan Guarantee Provisions in the 2007 Energy Bills: Does Nuclear Power Pose Significant Taxpayer Risk and Liability? 1

Tue, 30 Oct 2007 14:30:00 GMT

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) invites you to learn about the loan guarantee provisions in the 2007 energy bills that have passed the House and Senate and await conference (HR. 6/HR. 3221). The Senate bill’s provision would significantly alter how the Department of Energy (DOE) provides taxpayer-funded loan guarantees for new energy technologies, especially to costly nuclear power plants. Section 124(b) of the Senate bill (HR. 6) allows loan guarantees to be given to multiple projects to construct an existing nuclear power design; exempts DOE’s loan guarantee program from Sec 504(b) of the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990 (FCRA) which allows DOE to write unlimited loan guarantees without Congressional oversight; and gives DOE unfettered access to the Incentives for Innovative Technologies Fund (EPACT 2005) without requiring appropriations or any fiscal year limitation. This provision, if adopted, would eliminate Congressional authority and the safeguards provided through the appropriations process regarding expenditures for these potentially risky projects and shift enormous financial risk from Wall Street banks to America’s taxpayers. The House-passed legislation on loan guarantees is different; it says that no eligible technology can be excluded from consideration from loan guarantees.

Because of the likelihood of delays and cost overruns in building new nuclear power plants, Wall Street banks are unwilling to accept any financial risks for nuclear power loans. Six of the nation’s largest investment banks-Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and Morgan Stanley- recently told the DOE, “We believe these risks, combined with the higher capital costs and longer construction schedules of nuclear plants as compared to other generation facilities, will make lenders unwilling at present to extend long-term credit.” Our briefing panel will discuss whether the loan guarantee provisions constitute a significant taxpayer liability and/or poor governance. Speakers include:

  • Peter Bradford, President, Bradford Brook Associates; former Chair, New York State Public Service Commission and Maine Public Utilities Commission; and former Commissioner, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Jerry Taylor, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute
  • Jim Harding, CEO, Harding Consulting
  • US Government Accountability Office (GAO)

Not only is the cost to the taxpayers potentially very high, so is the risk. The Congressional Budget Office has said there is a good chance that the DOE will underestimate the costs of administering these loans and that more than 50 percent of new reactor projects will default on their loan repayments, leaving taxpayers at risk. U.S. taxpayers will be fully liable for any potential shortfalls. The nuclear industry ask is $25 billion for FY 2008 and more than that in FY 2009-more than $50 billion in two years. According to the Congressional Research Service, this is more than the $49.7 billion spent by the DOE for all nuclear power R&D in the 30 years from 1973-2003. This is also well over the Administration’s target of $4 billion in loan guarantees for nuclear and coal for FY 2008.

This briefing is open to the public and no reservations are required.

A Climate of Change: Economic Approaches to Reforming Energy and Protecting the Environment

Tue, 30 Oct 2007 13:00:00 GMT

On October 30, The Hamilton Project at Brookings will host a two-part forum on mitigating climate change through market mechanisms and new technologies. In addition to the release of a new Hamilton Project strategy paper, the forum will highlight two new discussion papers on how to best design market mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and will include proposals to expand — and possibly restructure — the federal research and development program to better promote the development of new greenhouse gas reducing technologies.

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin and Hamilton Project Director Jason Furman, also a Brookings senior fellow, will open the event with a special award presentation, followed with opening remarks by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers on economic approaches to energy security and climate change—the subject of the new strategy paper.

The new Hamilton Project strategy paper argues that the best way to address climate change is to give the private sector the right incentives to undertake emissions reductions. At the same time, the strategy calls for policies to protect low- and middle-income families from the consequences of higher energy prices.

The two new discussion papers will feature alternate views on how to best harness market forces to protect the environment. Gilbert E. Metcalf of Tufts University will discuss his proposal for a carbon tax and Robert N. Stavins of Harvard University will present his proposal for a cap-and-trade system. John Deutch of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and John Podesta of the Center for American Progress will also discuss their recent proposal for a new federal research and development strategy, and Richard Newell of Duke University and Resources for the Future will share his ideas for creating science and technology policies that would enable new technologies to work effectively.

Welcome and Special Presentation
  • Robert E. Rubin, Citigroup Inc. and Jason Furman, The Hamilton Project

An Economic Approach to Energy Security and Climate Change

  • Lawrence H. Summers, Harvard University

Panel One

Creating a Green Market: How to Best Price Carbon

  • Moderator: Sebastian Mallaby, Council on Foreign Relations
  • Gilbert E. Metcalf, Tufts University
  • Robert N. Stavins, Harvard University
  • Jason Furman
  • Kathleen McGinty, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Panel Two

Warming up to New Technologies: Innovating Our Way To a Stable Climate

  • Moderator: Roger C. Altman, Evercore Partners
  • John Deutch, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • John Podesta, Center for American Progress
  • Richard Newell, Duke University
  • Kelly Sims Gallagher, Harvard University
  • David Sandalow, Brookings Institution

Hyatt Regency Regency Ballroom 400 New Jersey Avenue, NW Washington, DC

After Kyoto, Eyes on Bali: Global Climate Change and American Leadership

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 17:00:00 GMT

Senator John Kerry will speak to the Council on Foreign Relations on Monday. His address, “After Kyoto, Eyes on Bali: Global Climate Change and American Leadership,” will focus on the security risks of global climate change and the way forward as the United States approaches the next round of global climate change talks in Bali in December. Sen. Kerry and Sen. Boxer are leading the Senate delegation to this next round of international discussions.

Council on Foreign Relations 58 East 68th Street New York, NY 10021

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