July 16, 2010

"BrownDog" Democrats Giving White House Heartburn on Carbon Criminalization. Politico (7/16)reports, "President Barack Obama’s next big legislative priority – acomprehensive energy and climate bill – sits in limbo in no small part becauseof wavering senators from his own party. About a dozen Democrats – from theGreat Plains, Midwest, Appalachia and the South – continue to resist the ideaof putting a cap on greenhouse gas emissions. And despite months of legwork bythe president’s Senate allies, few of these so-called Brown Dogs are biting.Election-year concerns, fueled by GOP labels of a "national energy tax" andpublic angst over expansive government, have many moderate Democrats holdingtightly to the fence, unwilling to commit to the White House agenda when itcomes to tackling global warming. "I think it’s still a work in progress," saidMissouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, who worries that a cap would be a loser forDemocrats in November. "You know, it took 50 years on health care." SenateMajority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is spending the next week working throughvarious proposals on energy and climate change with a goal of starting floordebate as early as the week of July 26. But garnering 60 votes on a plan thatcaps emissions is a major challenge as long as Democrats such as McCaskill fearthe electoral consequences."

WithSome Good News Out of the Gulf, Only a Matter of Time Before Anti-EnergyAdvocates Find New Line of Attack on Affordable, Reliable, Efficient Energy. NYTimes (7/16) reports, "The hemorrhaging well that has spilled millions ofgallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico remained capped for a second day Friday,providing some hope of a long-term solution to the environmental disaster. Livevideo from the seabed Friday morning showed that all was quiet around the topof the well, suggesting the test assessing the integrity of the well wascontinuing. Earlier in the week, Kent Wells, a senior vice president for BP,had said that the longer the test continued the better, because it wouldindicate that the pressure inside the well was holding. The oil stopped flowingaround 2:25 p.m. Thursday when the last of several valves was closed on a capat the top of the well, Mr. Wells said. Mr. Wells emphasized that pressuretests were being conducted to determine the status of the well, which is nowsealed like a soda bottle. BP and the government could decide to allow the oilto flow again and try to collect all of it; they could allow the oil to flowand, if tests show the well can withstand the pressure from the cap, close thewell during hurricanes; or they could leave the well closed permanently."

W&M Committee Gearing up ForAnother Round of "Green" Job Handouts, What’s Another Couple Billion Down the "Green"Drain? The Hill (7/15) reports, "A draft of the Ways and Means green energy jobs billcosting approximately $22 billion surfaced in the Capitol and along K Street onThursday. The draft is by no means the bill that Ways and Means Chairman SandyLevin (D-Mich.) hopes to mark up next week, but rather a list of ideas thatcould be incorporated in the final legislation. Under the draft, tax creditswould be awarded for improvements in energy efficiency, integrating renewableelectricity onto the electric grid, and creating technologies and equipmentthat capture biogas to produce energy and other "post-consumerwaste-to-energy" facilities. The draft’s centerpiece extends through 2014the Section 48C manufacturing tax credit for investing in renewable energy. Thetax credit was created in the 2009 stimulus bill and has been touted byPresident Obama as being instrumental in helping companies become energy efficient.The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimates the extension will costapproximately $6.9 billion."

Speakingof "Green" Jobs, Shouldn’t We Learn from Europe’s Failed Experiment? TheInstitute for Energy Research (7/15) writes on their blog, "Europe’sfeed-in tariffs have led to higher electricity prices without having positiveimpacts on emissions reductions, employment, energy security, or technologicalinnovation. In Spain, the feed-in tariff has helped create a rate deficit sogreat that it imperils the sustainability of Spain’s electricity system.Despite these real-world experiences, some believe we should implement the samepolicies in the U.S. Recently ClimateWire carried the following item, withopening language provided: A new paper from a leading climate policy expertmakes the case that California should have a feed-in tariff like the ones inGermany and Spain that have been credited with creating unprecedented demandfor solar power. Dan Kammen is a professor of energy, policy and nuclearengineering at the University of California, Berkeley, and was an adviser toPresident Obama on energy policy during the 2008 campaign."

WeThink 9.5 Percent Unemployment is High Enough, Only Wish our Friends in the Anti-EnergyMovement Agreed. The Politico(7/15) reports, "Democratic leaders and environmentalists hope to seize onpublic outrage over the oil spill in the Gulf as a way to roll back billions ofdollars in tax breaks and financial incentives long enjoyed by the oilindustry. Democrats contend that many of the decades-old tax breaks areoutdated and allow oil companies to perform highly profitable drilling onpublic lands and in federal waters at taxpayers’ expense. Republicans and theoil industry say that taking away the tax breaks will raise energy costs anddrive production overseas. The attempts to extract big dollars from Big Oilaren’t new. As soon as Democrats won control of Congress in 2006, House SpeakerNancy Pelosi led a charge to strip the oil industry of $7.6 billion in taxbreaks over 10 years and to close loopholes in offshore drilling leases thathad allowed oil companies to avoid paying about $10 billion in federalroyalties. President Obama went even further – his 2011 budget proposal askedCongress to roll back $35 billion in oil and gas tax incentives over 10 years.To date, all those efforts have failed and stalled, largely due to intenselobbying by the oil industry and its allies in Congress.

NelsonDraws early Line in the Sand on National Energy Tax: "Idon’t think that’s an appropriate way to go." Politico (7/16) reports, "Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraskasaid Thursday he would not support a procedural vote later this month to begindebate on a climate bill that includes a cap on electric utility emissions, adeclaration that underscores the tough climb that Majority Leader Harry Reidwill have in trying to cobble together a 60-vote supermajority on thecontroversial issue. "A carbon tax or trade piece would significantly increasethe utility rates in Nebraska for businesses, agriculture and individuals," theNebraska Democrat told POLITICO. "I don’t think that’s an appropriate way togo. And while I’d usually vote for a motion to proceed, this is soextraordinary, that I just can’t bring myself to do that." Nelson has long beenknown as an opponent of proposals for tackling greenhouse gases with acap-and-trade plan. But his opposition to the procedural vote stands out givenparty discipline that at least allows the majority leader to take a bill up onthe floor. Environmentalists tracking the debate said earlier this week thatthey expect most Democrats will vote for the motion to proceed out of deferenceto Reid and President Barack Obama.

ThisRahall Bill is Dangerously CLEAR: Empower NOAA, Restrict Domestic EnergyExploration and Slap a New $2 Per Barrel Tax on Oil Extraction. E&E News (7/15subs. req’d)  reports, "The HouseNatural Resources Committee today approved sweeping legislation to reformfederal oversight of offshore drilling in the wake of the Gulf of Mexicodisaster. The bill from Chairman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), approved 27-21, wouldreorganize the beleaguered federal agency tasked with overseeing offshore oiland gas drilling into three separate leasing, enforcement and revenue-collectionentities. It also contains provisions to overhaul onshore oil and gasregulation, create a solar and wind leasing program and boost conservationfunding. The legislation likely will be folded into the House’s Gulf spillpackage, expected on the floor sometime this month. No Republicans voted forthe measure, and two Democrats voted against it: Reps. Stephanie HersethSandlin (S.D.) and Dan Boren (Okla.). "Democrats are trying to exploit theGulf oil spill as an opportunity to pass costly, controversial and otherwisedoomed legislation," ranking member Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) said."Democrats should not use this tragedy to build up a Christmas tree billof unrelated new spending, taxes and laws."

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