July 26, 2010

Off-CycleKerry Wants Senate to Come Back in Lame Duck to Pass Carbon CriminalizationMeasure It Didn’t Have Stomach to Pass When It Counted. Bloomberg(7/23) reports, "U.S. Senator John Kerry said Democrats may take up hiscomprehensive climate-change bill in a lame-duck session after the Novemberelections, while calling on President Barack Obama to escalate his advocacy forthe measure. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid yesterday introduced a morelimited energy bill that doesn’t include a cap on greenhouse gas emissions,citing the lack of support for a broader bill.  The bigger measure "is not dead," Kerry, a MassachusettsDemocrat, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s "Political CapitalWith Al Hunt" airing this weekend. "If it is after the election, it may well bethat some members are free and liberated and feeling that they can take a riskor do something."  Kerry, whoco-authored the Senate climate measure with Senator Joe Lieberman, aConnecticut independent, urged Obama to lobby for the bill in private meetingswith undecided senators and at public events. "People have to know it reallycounts," said Kerry, 66. On climate legislation, Kerry said Democrats have "wellover 50" votes for a cap-and-trade program.

Meanwhile,Sen. Reid’s "Spill Bill" Set to be Announced Today Has (At Least) One FatalFlaw: It Prevents Indy Operators from Exploring in the Gulf. TheHill (7/26) reports, "Senate Democratic committee and leadership aideshuddled in the Capitol Building on Sunday to go through the package and plan todo so again Monday morning. The package could be unveiled later Monday. Themain concern with that language is that especially smaller companies may not beable to afford the insurance premiums for projects or be able to receiveinsurance at all for some riskier projects. "It’s just a messaging bill and atrap to force Republicans to vote against this bill," said Robert Dillon,spokesman for Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) is workingwith Republicans and Democrats to possibly add language protecting smaller,independent producers. Oil companies under state law already face unlimitedliability, as well as for federally required cleanup costs. Under current lawif gross negligence or regulatory violations are found, federal liability capsdo not apply. Menendez and other lead backers of the language contend that thepublic at large supports the idea. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), though,acknowledged that political reality may dictate the liability should be raisedinstead of lifted entirely. "I think we ought to raise it," Kerry toldBloomberg’s Al Hunt in an interview that aired this weekend. Kerry saidDemocrats "ought to find out what the political market here [is] and the Senatewill bear and get to a realistic figure."

RealOversight: Senate Small Biz Cmte to Hold Hearing Tomorrow on Economic DisasterCaused by Obama Offshore Ban – Prof. Mason (of AEA Study Fame) Set to Testify. E&E News (7/26,subs. req’d) reports, "The Senate Small Business Committee will meet tomorrowto discuss the impact of the Obama administration’s deepwater drilling ban oncompanies operating in the Gulf of Mexico. The committee’s chairwoman, Sen.Mary Landrieu (D-La.), has been a vocal opponent of the six-month moratorium,saying it has further hurt the already-battered regional economy. Tomorrow, shewill have a chance to flesh out those concerns with small business owners,industry experts and local officials from the Gulf Coast region. "We mustcontinue this battle to end the moratorium and save the hundreds of thousandsof jobs that are in jeopardy," she said last week at a Louisiana rallyagainst the moratorium. "Louisiana families need certainty from ourfederal government that paychecks will not turn into pink slips. And our oil supportcompanies need to know that the Gulf is open and ready for business.""The economic health and future prosperity of the entire region is on theline," Landrieu added. "If we are to recover from this oil spill, theGulf Coast cannot afford a second economic disaster."

ObamaHas Yet to Veto a Single Bill that Congress Has Sent Him – But That WillChange, He Says, if Rockefeller’s Endangerment Delay Bill Gets to His Desk. The Politico (7/23)reports, "State and industry-driven lawsuits also are in the works to block theEPA effort, starting with a challenge in a federal appeals court to the agency’sunderlying "endangerment finding" that greenhouse gases contribute to globalwarming and are pollutants that endanger human health. That EPA findingtriggered the requirements to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the CleanAir Act.  On Thursday, White Houseenergy and climate adviser Carol Browner stopped short of pledging a veto of theRockefeller bill and its House companion. But she insisted that the EPA wouldhave running room thanks to the Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling that affirmed theagency’s authority to write the climate rules.  "We will continue to use all the tools available to us toreduce greenhouse gas emissions," she told POLITICO. "The president believes inthe science. He believes we have a Supreme Court decision and we will continueto move forward."  Prospects of anybill stripping EPA of its authority are uncertain in the current politicalclimate, but a GOP takeover of either chamber in 2011 makes the threat muchmore real.

TheWax Man Cometh: OK Papers Wonder Aloud if Chairman Waxman’s Crusade AgainstHydraulic Fracturing is Pathological, or Merely Compulsive. The Oklahoman(7/26) editorializes, "Hydraulic fracturing’s effect on water supplies has beenexamined for years and likely will be until the last syllable of this administration’sexecutive orders is written. Tomorrow and tomorrow can’t come soon enough forenergy executives.  No adverseimpact from fracturing has been proven. Shaking up rock through fracturing isessential for releasing natural gas from shale formations; natural gas isessential for transitioning power generation away from coal. Gas is also key(along with offshore oil drilling) in reducing dependence on foreignsupplies.  Nevertheless, some poorplayers in Congress won’t let the fracturing issue die a dusty death.California U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman seems obsessed by it. Yet natural gas is arelatively green, clean and abundant fuel.  We hope Waxman isn’t on a witch hunt. Yet we’re notencouraged by his antics when insurance firms made accounting adjustmentsfollowing passage of Obamacare. Then, Waxman waxed indignant and demandedanswers. It was all sound and fury, signifying nothing.  Perhaps the fracturing probe will alsobe a brief candle. Waxman’s strutting and fretting, though, appears to be a dramawith no final act.

SteveMufson Spills Lots of Ink in the WPost About Oil Spilled in the Gulf Over thePast 45 Years – Not a Single Word About Natural Seepage, Where 65% of Its ComesFrom. The WashingtonPost (7/24) reports, "The oil and gas industry’s offshore safety andenvironmental record in the Gulf of Mexico has become a key point of debateover future drilling, but that record has been far worse than is commonlyportrayed by many industry leaders and lawmakers. Many policymakers think thatthe record before the BP oil spill was exemplary. In a House hearing Thursday,Rep. John J. "Jimmy" Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn.) said, "It’s almost anastonishingly safe, clean history that we have there in the gulf."Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the industry’s "history of safety overall of those times" had provided the "empirical foundation" for U.S.policy. But federal records tell a different story. They show a steady streamof oil spills dumping 517,847 barrels of petroleum — which would fill anequivalent number of standard American bathtubs — into the Gulf of Mexicobetween 1964 and 2009. The spills killed thousands of birds and soiled beachesas far away as Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. "The oil industry has drilled42,000 wells in the Gulf of Mexico, and this is the first time an incident ofthis magnitude has happened," said the American Petroleum Institute’spresident, Jack Gerard, who has been urging Congress to avoid imposing toughnew regulations.

BodeSnatcher: Top Brass from AWEA Marauding About the Hill Today Demanding CarveOut for Wind Mandate in Energy Bill. E&E News (7/26,subs. req’d) reports, "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spent the weekendputting the finishing touches on a small energy and oil spill response packagehe plans to unveil today and appears to be holding firm against a renewableelectricity standard despite a late lobbying blitz. The Nevada Democrat saidSaturday that the inclusion of an RES would threaten the fate of the entirelegislation. "I don’t think I have 60 votes to get that done," Reidsaid at the progressive Netroots Nation conference in his home state. A groupof environmentalists and clean energy advocates had sent a letter to Reid onFriday asking him to rethink his decision to omit an RES. "Home Star issimply a cash-for-clunkers," said Dillon, referring to last summer’sfederal program that paid consumers to scrap old cars and trucks for newer,more fuel-efficient ones. "It’s just a jobs bill that doesn’t create anyjobs, it just gives money to unions." While the provision mandatesspending for efficiency, Dillon said no one is overseeing it to make sure themoney is being spent well or that improvements are being made.

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