June 28, 2010

One Year Later: 365 Days Removedfrom House Passage of Waxman-Markey, Backers of Carbon Criminalization ViewAttachment to Oil Spill Bill as Only Hope. E&E News(6/25, subs. req’d) reports, "One year ago, the stars seemed aligned forCongress to enact a sweeping climate and energy bill. Democrats held largemajorities on Capitol Hill, President Obama touted a cap-and-trade plan as oneof his top legislative priorities, and the House passed a historic bill settingmandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions. A year ago Saturday, Reps. HenryWaxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) eked out a 219-212 vote in support oftheir climate bill. House leaders trumpeted their legislative victory whileSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pledged to quickly hold a floordebate on an energy and climate package. At the time, Axelrod said Obama wouldnot let the House bill wither. "The vote will come sometime in the fall. Ithink we will fashion an energy package that will move this country forward andcarry the day," he said on NBC’s "Meet the Press." Now, after alost year of fits and starts, senators continue to disagree over what form aclimate and energy bill should take as repeated deadlines for a floor debateslip by the wayside. David Hamilton, director of the Sierra Club’s globalwarming program, said the environmental community thought the Senate would actmore quickly on climate legislation, "but there are all sorts of forces innational politics that got in the way of that.

G-20 Negotiators in TorontoAgree to Cut Subsidies for Fossil Fuels – GOOD! Problem Is: Don’t Seem toUnderstand That ONLY Taxing a Company at 46% Isn’t a Subsidy. LATimes (6/27) reports, "In a last-minute turn in global climate talks,international negotiators agreed over the weekend to adopt more ambitious plansthan expected to trim government subsidies to oil companies worldwide, part ofa broader effort to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Earlier this week,negotiators were hammering out an agreement among the top 20 industrialized andemerging nations that called for each to take "voluntary" measures tocut production and consumption incentives. But privately under pressure fromthe Obama administration over the last two days, the group now is preparing tosign an agreement that omits the word "voluntary." In another changein the language of the proposed agreement, the pact will pledge an ongoingreview process that evaluates how well countries are living up to theircommitment. The tougher language was seen in part as a reaction to the ongoingoil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico. The statement containing the newagreement was described by officials close to the negotiations Sunday afternoonas the final communique was being pieced together. The agreement’s climatepassage will be part of a more sweeping statement that will be issued bymembers of the G-20 nations shortly before they wrap up their summer summitSunday evening.

Obama, Senate Dems on the Huntfor a Few GOPers to Walk the Plank on Carbon Criminalization – Will Need AtLeast a Handful, Owing to Mass Defections Among Moderates. Politico(6/28) reports, "President Barack Obama needs a couple of Senate Republicans toplay ball if he’s going to pass a cap on greenhouse gases this year.  But few, if any, GOP senators seemwilling to work with him on a plan their leaders have dubbed a "national energytax" – despite the fact that some of them have seemed supportive of the ideabefore. While there are 59 senators in the Democratic Caucus, Obama knows hemay need more than one Republican crossover to get 60 "yes" votes on acomprehensive climate bill; Democrats Evan Bayh of Indiana, Byron Dorgan ofNorth Dakota, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and John Rockefeller of West Virginiahave made it clear in recent weeks they’d prefer a much different route. "Noone in our conference supports a national energy tax," said Don Stewart, aspokesman for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Republican operativesexplain that their members are living in a much different environment in 2010than they were in previous years, when it might have been more politicallypossible to sign up on climate change.

Democratic Nominee for Gov. ofWisconsin BLASTS Obama Admin for IMF No-Vote on Indian Power Plant – Turns OutDecision Cost Wisc. 1,000 Jobs. WallStreet Journal (6/26) reports, "Bucyrus International Inc. said it may losea $310 million order for mining machinery from a subsidiary of Reliance PowerLtd. of India because of a decision by the U.S. Export-Import Bank againstproviding loan guarantees for the project. The decision is equivalent to"throwing 1,000 jobs in the ditch," Tim Sullivan, chief executive ofthe South Milwaukee maker of mining equipment, said. The board of the Ex-ImBank voted 2-1 Thursday against supporting the project. The mining equipmentwould be used for a coal mine that is to supply a new power plant in MadhyaPradesh, India. Mr. Sullivan said that the order from Reliance was contingenton the guarantees and that he feared Reliance would turn to rival suppliersfrom China or Belarus. The bank board split along party lines. Two Democraticmembers-Fred Hochberg, chairman, and Diane Farrell-voted against supporting theproject, while a Republican, Bijan R. Kian, voted in favor. The decision couldput President Barack Obama in an awkward spot during a planned visit toWisconsin Tuesday and Wednesday. "Thiswas a very bad decision," Tom Barrett, the Democratic nominee for governorof Wisconsin, said. Mr. Barrett, currently mayor of Milwaukee, added:"We have to focus on creating jobs." He pledged to "exploreavenues to reverse the outcome." That is likely to be difficult as thereis no appeals process for votes by the Ex-Im Bank board.

Missing: Charlie Christ;Previous Location: Supporter of Offshore Energy; Last Known Address: Standingon Beach with Hippies Protecting That Same Energy. Associated Press(6/26) reports, "Organizers of "Hands Across the Sand" said similarprotests were held at beaches around the nation and in several foreigncountries. The demonstration also was intended to show support for cleanalternatives to fossil fuels. Gov. Charlie Crist returned to Pensacola Beach,where he walked with President Barack Obama on the snow white sand June 15.That was before gobs of goo from the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico cameashore last week. Demonstrators shared the beach with tourists and heavyequipment standing by in case more oil comes ashore. Michael DeMaria, aclinical psychologist from Pensacola, led demonstrators from a pavilion to theshore like an environmentalist pied piper, tooting softly on a nativeAmerican-style flute. He said he often tells patients to go swimming in theGulf as part of therapy. "It breaks my heart," DeMaria said of thespill. "It’s amazing how healing just being by the water is." Abarefoot Crist held hands with his wife, Carole, and Joan Jackson, a middleschool teacher in nearby Pace. Dozens frolicked in the water, and Crist, whowore shorts, waded a few feet in as the demonstration broke up. He assuredpeople the water was safe.

Coalition of Enviro Groups FileSuit Against Cape WIND Project – But Here’s the Kicker: One of the Litigants isa Group Called Californians for Renewable Energy (!). Greenwire (6/25, subs.req’d) reports, "A coalition of environmental groups filed a lawsuit today,arguing that the nation’s first proposed offshore wind farm violates theEndangered Species Act. The lawsuit filed in federal district court inWashington, D.C., alleges that the Obama administration violated the ESA byapproving the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound without requiring adequateprotections for endangered shorebirds and migrating whales. "We are inthis lawsuit because science was manipulated and suppressed for politicalreasons to which the Obama administration turned a blind eye," accordingto former U.S. EPA attorney Kyla Bennett, the director of Public Employees forEnvironmental Responsibility New England. The Interior Department’s Bureau ofOcean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement and the Fish and WildlifeService relied "on an unlawful biological opinion" that allows the130-turbine project to proceed. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar approvedconstruction of the wind farm in April. PEER is joined in the lawsuit by theAlliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, Californiansfor Renewable Energy Inc., the Texas group Lower Laguna Madre Foundationand others.

Low-Carbon Fuel Standard – Never Heard of It, Right?Mission Accomplished for Folks Who Support It; Turns Out Only Path toImplementation Is Covered by a Thick Canopy of Ignorance. CEA’s Michael Whatley writes (6/25) in the StamfordAdvocate, "Just as the Constitution State was bracing for the rest ofanother cold New England winter at the end of 2009, Gov. M. Jodi Rell and thegovernors of 10 mid-Atlantic and New England states were signing an agreementthat could significantly raise home heating oil prices throughout the region.By signing onto a Memorandum of Understanding on December 30, the governorspaved the way for the adoption of a region-wide Low-Carbon Fuel Standard(LCFS). As a state without fossil fuel reserves and a large portion of homeheating oil consumers, citizens of Connecticut have reason to be concerned.While proponents are selling this LCFS as a "market-based" way toreduce the carbon content of our fuel, it actually won’t make the fuels in yourhome heating tank or gas tank any cleaner that they are right now. What it willdo is restrict which markets we can get our fuels from and hurt our economy byincreasing energy prices across the board. Never heard of an LCFS? It is asystem in which bureaucrats determine which fuels are available to consumersbased on their life-cycle carbon emissions — which are based on severalfactors including the amount of energy used to produce the fuel. Under thisformula, heavy crudes — such as oil produced in Canada, the Southwest andMexico receive a higher life-cycle carbon score since they require more energyto produce than light crudes.

Grown-Up Time: BinghamtonAttorney Sends Detailed Letter to Every Assemblyman in Albany Laying Out theFacts on Hydraulic Fracturing in NY.BinghamtonPress & Sun-Bulletin (6/27) reports, "Broome Co. attorney Sluzar wrotethat by banning horizontal wells for an extended time, the bill would have theadverse consequence of encouraging companies to drill a large number of closelyspaced vertical wells. "Every drill site is an industrial constructionzone with truck traffic, storage of chemicals, cement casings, etc.,"Sluzar’s letter states. "Unfortunately, more vertical wells mean morechances for surface disruption, surface spills, worker error, andcontamination." Another bill would ban hydraulic fracturing on landsitting atop sole source aquifers — effectively banning any drilling in theentirety of Broome County — and a third would restrict drill cuttings frombeing placed in these areas. Sluzar said the proposed laws would create anunfair double-standard for gas drilling materials. "Quite frankly, thereare many more toxic materials deposited in our landfill than would ever be on anatural gas site," Sluzar wrote, noting that DEC allows landfills to sitatop the aquifer. "This simply makes no sense." Sluzar urged statelawmakers to let the DEC complete its review of the technique, and trust thefinal judgment of the agency rather than trying to draw up rules and regulationson its own. "The DEC has the scientists and engineers with the expertiseto address these matters," Sluzar wrote. "The Legislature should nowlet DEC do its job."


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