July 27, 2010

Bill of Goods: Choleric HouseDems Believe Speaker Lied to Them In Insisting Walking the Plank onCap-and-Raid Was Gonna Be OK – Senate Won’t Leave You Hangin’! WashingtonPost (7/27) reports, "Thirteen months after that tough vote oncap-and-trade, Boccieri and dozens of other House Democrats along the Rust Beltare not at all happy with the way things have turned out. The White House andSpeaker Pelosi had assured reluctant members that the Senate would take up themeasure. Although Senate passage wasn’t a sure thing, House Democrats hoped togo back home to voters with a great story to tell — about reducing dependenceon foreign oil, slowing climate change and creating jobs.  That didn’t happen. Senate leaders,sensing political danger, repeatedly put off energy legislation, and the WhiteHouse didn’t lean on them very hard to make it a priority. In the aftermath ofthe gulf oil spill, the Senate is set to take up a stripped-down bill nextweek, but the controversial carbon-emissions cap is conspicuously missing. Thishas left some House Democrats feeling badly served by their leaders. Althoughlawmakers are reluctant to say so publicly, their aides and campaign advisersprivately complain that the speaker and the president left Democrats exposed onan unpopular issue that has little hope of being signed into law.

The Sun Also Sets: NationalEnviros Continue to Eat Their Own In Expectation of Losing Big in NextElection, and Having Nothing to Show for 2010. E&E News (7/27,subs. req’d) reports, "With Republicans expected to pick up seats on ElectionDay, most advocates of carbon caps say they face a tougher playing field in2011."From an objective standpoint, it looks like what might be the shiftin party balances a little bit might make it harder," said Joe Mendelson,of the National Wildlife Federation. But Paul Bledsoe, a strategist at theNational Commission on Energy Policy, said the presumption that the nextCongress will be less likely to act on climate may not be accurate."Sometimes, when one party has large majorities, it can be difficult toput together a bipartisan coalition," he said. "Sometimes, when theparty balance is closer, it actually becomes easier to put together bipartisancoalitions because you’ve got to get some things done." Bledsoe said theremay also be room for compromise on energy issues outside of climate. "MostRepublicans have vilified the cap-and-trade approach, although many supportedit previously. The question is, ‘Are there other policy measures that couldgain broader acceptance within the GOP?’ And I think it’s a proposition worthtesting." "We’re not focusing on next year," said David Doniger,policy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council’s climate center."We’re focusing still this year on finding a way to get a climatebill." It would be "deeply troubling" for the current Congressnot to address climate and energy legislation, he added.

Meanwhile, "Spill Bill" Releasedby House Dems Last Night Not Something Designed to Attract Bipartisan Support,Observers Say – Will Rs Take the Bait? TheHill (7/26) reports, "House Democrats on Monday unveiled their strategy torespond to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a package headed for the floor latethis week that would shore up offshore rig safety standards and block BP fromobtaining new offshore drilling leases. The bill, slated for debate Friday,also increases oil companies’ liability for damages from offshore spills. The238-page plan – a slimmed down combination of bills approved by three panels -would also give subpoena power to a commission President Obama has appointed inthe wake of the Gulf of Mexico spill, while dropping the idea of creating aseparate commission largely appointed by Congress. The House Democraticstrategy includes language from Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) that would blockBP or any other company with a "significant history" of violating worker safetyor environmental laws. The language – approved by voice vote in the HouseNatural Resources Committee – bars a company from drilling in federal waters ifit has five times the industry average for willful or repeat worker safetyviolations at its oil and gas facilities; has more than 10 fatalities at anyfacility; or incurs fines of $10 million or more under EPA air or water lawswithin the preceding 7 years.

Don’t Mess: Republic of TexasSues Federal EPA for Second Time in 6 Weeks – Not About to Let Those Weaselsoff the Hook on New Permitting Rules.SanAntonio Express-News (7/27) reports, "Texas has sued the federalEnvironmental Protection Agency for the second time in six weeks, escalating afeud over the state’s rules for air pollution from refiners and other largeindustries.  State Attorney GeneralGreg Abbott said Monday he filed a petition with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court ofAppeals, seeking to block the EPA from disapproving the state’s so-calledflexible permits. State officials argue the federal agency had no legal ortechnical justification for rejecting the 16-year-old permitting program, whichcovers 122 refiners, chemical plants and plastics makers. The federal Clean AirAct requires polluters to limit emissions of key pollutants at each sourceinside a plant. The disputed Texas permits set a plant-wide ceiling – adistinction that makes them practically unenforceable, the EPA said inannouncing the decision last month. Gov. Rick Perry and state regulators saythe flexible permitting program cuts red tape and air pollution withoutviolating federal law. In a statement praising the lawsuit, Perry said jobs andgains in air quality would be lost if the EPA’s decision stands. "The EPA’soverreach is as potentially devastating as it is unnecessary," Perry said.

U.S. State Dept. Can Negotiatewith Iran – But When It Comes to Issuing a Routine Permit for the KeystonePipeline, Enviros Strike Fear in the Heart of Foggy Bottom. TheHill (7/26) reports, "The State Department is extending its review of acontroversial pipeline project that would expand U.S. imports of oil fromCanadian [oil] sands, a plentiful energy source that is under fire fromactivists and some lawmakers over its environmental effects. The decision tolengthen the review of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL follows complaintsfrom the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a senior House Democrat thatState’s draft environmental review was inadequate. The department is extendingthe mid-September deadline for federal agencies to comment on the project foranother 90 days, possibly delaying a final decision until next year. A deadlinefor the general public to weigh in was July 2.  The decision to give agencies more time comes after EPArecently said the State Department’s draft environmental impact statementneeded to be revised to take into account concerns that the pipeline could polluteair and water and harm migratory birds and other wildlife. The consequences of "airemissions from refineries and the potential contamination of drinking watersupplies from an oil spill have not been fully evaluated," Cynthia Giles, EPA’sassistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance, argued in aJuly 16 letter to the State Department.

First the Loss in ‘04, then theSnub for the State Dept. Job, Now Cap-and-Raid Falling Apart — For a Guy WhoOwns a $7M Yacht, Kerry’s Had Some Pretty Bad Luck. WashingtonPost (7/27) reports, "He fell just short of winning the White House in2004. Four years later, he was rumored to be a leading contender to besecretary of state, until President-elect Barack Obama stunned everyone bytapping his former rival Hillary Rodham Clinton. But even as Sen. John F. Kerry(D-Mass.) announced last week that he had failed in his latest politicalendeavor, pushing through a bill to combat climate change, he predictedeventual success. Rather than take up a bill seeking to limit greenhouse-gasemissions, a long-held Democratic goal and campaign priority of Obama’s,Democrats will try to pass legislation over the next few weeks that would raiseliability caps for companies such as BP after oil spills. The measure wouldalso offer some incentives for Americans to buy more-energy-efficient productsfor their homes. The retrenchment comes after months of internal debate amongDemocrats, much of it led by Kerry. Last summer, the House pushed through abill based on the principle of "cap and trade"; it set up emissionslimits for companies that produce greenhouse gases, along with permits foremissions they could trade with one another.

The New Gulf: Anadarko Teams Upwith UK’s Tullow Oil to Make Second Major New Discovery of Oil Offshore Ghanain 3 Years. Bloomberg(7/26) reports, "Tullow Oil Plc, the U.K. explorer with the most licenses inAfrica, discovered a "major new oil field" off the coast of Ghana.  The Owo-1 exploration well "encountereda gross vertical reservoir interval of 154 meters (505 feet)" in the DeepwaterTano license, the London-based company said today in a statement. Samples showit’s a light oil of 33 degrees to 36 degrees gravity on the American PetroleumInstitute scale, Tullow said. "This is a big well and a big result for Tullow,we’ve got here a very substantial light-oil discovery," said Angus McCoss. "It’sreally looking to be another transformational oil field for Ghana." Tullow isthe operator of Deepwater Tano while its partners include Anadarko PetroleumCorp., Kosmos Energy LLC and Ghana National Petroleum Corp. WallStreet Journal (7/27) reports, "Owo is the second major oil discoveryTullow has made offshore Ghana. The first, Jubilee, which will produce itsfirst oil later this year, propelled Tullow into London’s blue chip index. Owocould potentially be even more valuable to the company, analysts said. … If Owohad not found oil, resources in the greater Tweneboa area would probably havebeen capped at 400 million barrels of oil equivalent, but the new find makes itmore likely that the area contains around 1.4 billion barrels, said PanmureGordon analyst Peter Hitchens.

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