Three Senate Democrats Join Effort to Block EPA Carbon Rules
By Simon Lomax
January 21, 2010
Three Senate Democrats today joined a Republican effort to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases under existing law.
Democrats Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Ben Nelson of Nebraska said they co-sponsored a motion that seeks to overturn the EPA’s finding that greenhouse gases are a threat to public health and should be regulated. The agency has proposed regulations for new cars, power plants, oil refineries and factories that could begin in March.
“This command-and-control approach is our worst option for reducing the emissions blamed for climate change,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, who wrote the measure. “Congress must be given time to develop an appropriate and more responsible solution.”
Murkowski decided today to seek a disapproval motion of the EPA’s Dec. 7 finding instead of trying to block the agency’s regulations by amending legislation now before the Senate. To pass the Senate, the disapproval motion would require 51 votes, fewer than the 60 required to amend legislation being debated this week to raise the U.S. government’s debt ceiling.
Lincoln said she will support Murkowski’s disapproval motion to block “heavy-handed EPA regulation.”
“I am very concerned about the burden that EPA regulation of carbon emissions could put on our economy,” Lincoln said in an e-mail.
Murkowski didn’t say how soon she would bring the motion to the Senate floor. Her decision will delay a vote on whether the EPA can regulate carbon dioxide from cars, power plants, oil refineries and factories “possibly until March,” Whitney Stanco, an analyst in Washington for Concept Capital, said in a report today.
Murkowski could ask for a vote on the disapproval resolution “at any time,” Robert Dillon, a spokesman for the Alaska Republican, said in a telephone interview.
The EPA’s authority stems from a 2007 Supreme Court ruling on the scope of the Clean Air Act. Legislation to limit that authority and set up a cap-and-trade market for carbon dioxide permits is stalled in the Senate.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Senate Climate Change Fight Looks as Tough as Healthcare Reform Bill
By Ben Geman
December 29, 2009
Senate Democrats will face a problem when they return in January every bit as tough as crafting the healthcare bill: Assembling a climate and energy package that can be shoehorned into the election-year calendar.
Imposing limits on greenhouse gases is a White House and Democratic priority, but it’s stuck in line behind healthcare, Wall Street reform and jobs legislation.
It’s also become increasingly apparent since the Copenhagen climate summit that the Senate will go forward in a dramatically different direction than the House, which approved its own climate bill last summer.
Environmentalists familiar with Democratic plans say party leaders remain committed to bringing up a bill next year. They are looking to Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) effort to craft a compromise plan with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).
But in a sign of how difficult it will be to cobble together 60 votes, Kerry and Graham have provided few details about what their plan will contain.
They hope to blend emissions limits with wider offshore oil-and-gas drilling, expanded federal financing for nuclear power and a lot of support for low-emissions coal projects, among other measures aimed a navigating a thicket of regional and partisan interests.
Graham noted that different senators are proposing a variety of plans for limiting carbon emissions, and he said he’s open-minded to what is included in a bill, as long as it is a “meaningful control” on pollution.
Some Democratic centrists including Sens. Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) and Byron Dorgan (N.D.), who are both up for reelection next year, want the Senate to take up a broad energy measure that the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved in June as a standalone bill, rather than grafting it to a cap-and-trade plan.
That’s led to speculation that Democrats might seek to move an energy bill but put off the fight over climate change.
The problem with that logic is that dozens of Democrats want to move a climate change bill, including centrists such as Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), who faces a tough primary fight and then a difficult general election battle.
“I think it [climate legislation] is important. I think we ought to take it up,” Specter said in a brief interview last week. He’s also said any final bill must protect manufacturers and provide a major boost for low-emissions coal.
White House officials also are calling for a combined energy and climate package, including an economy-wide cap-and-trade plan.
White House climate czar Carol Browner in November warned against “slicing and dicing,” and a White House aide said Monday that a combined energy policy and cap-and-trade package remains what the White House wants from Congress in 2010.
Linda Stuntz, an electricity industry lawyer who was an Energy Department official under President George H.W. Bush, believes the Senate will bring up a combined climate and energy bill, though she said it will face rough sledding.
“I am in the camp of those who think it is going to be very difficult after the really bruising fight over heathcare,” she said.
Stuntz does not see room in the Senate for a bill that mirrors the House plan.
“I don’t see an economy-wide cap-and-trade bill happening in 2010,” she said, adding that a narrower emissions plan, perhaps covering only power plants, could be more viable.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said she has been discussing the shape of an energy and climate package with lawmakers including Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Graham.
“It is not off the radar screen,” Landrieu said Wednesday. “There have been quite a few informal meetings that have been going on through the fog of this healthcare bill.”
Reid hopes to bring legislation to the floor in the spring, but that will be difficult given the Senate’s schedule.
A former official in the Clinton White House familiar with the climate change efforts said key negotiations need to start next month on the difficult task of assembling a compromise bill.
“At some point before the end of January several new moderates from both parties have to be brought into the process if we are going to create a bill that can gain 60 votes in the Senate. What it will take to bring those votes into the process is unclear, but those conversations have got to start to happen in mid- to late January,” the former official said.
An aide to Kerry said he was not planning to conduct negotiations on the climate measure over the Senate’s holiday recess.
The sour economy could also complicate plans to impose mandatory emissions limits amid assertions by GOP leaders and many in the Republican caucus that such plans would stifle growth.
But Kevin Book, an analyst with the consulting firm ClearView Energy Partners, argues the reverse is true.
He said that with states hurting financially, the billions of dollars that House and Senate cap-and-trade plans would provide to states through emissions allowances will help boost the chances for legislation that greatly expands federal environmental regulation.
“A weak economy is the only time you can have this incursion into the state regulatory franchise,” he said.
And, he notes, supporters of climate legislation have another card to play: The Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to move ahead with emissions regulations if Congress does not act.
“It is going to be very hard for Democrats to come up with nothing,” he said. “The only really politically viable option for them, thanks to the White House choice to move ahead [with EPA regulations], is to pass something.”
Nonetheless, energy lobbyists are hedging their bets, looking to the jobs bill as well as the hoped-for comprehensive energy-climate package for their preferred provisions. On Monday, the American Wind Energy Association released a list of 10 trends to watch, including the fate of the renewable electricity standard (RES) that requires utilities to supply more renewable power, which the group has been seeking for years.
“Whether it is in job legislation or in comprehensive energy and climate legislation … a strong RES is urgently needed to create hard targets that will fortify our manufacturing base and create tens of thousands of jobs,” the group said.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
(1) Renergie drafted the legislation (“HB 1270”) for the creation of an advanced biofuel industry development initiative in Louisiana. On June 21, 2008, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law the Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative (“Act 382”). Act 382, the most comprehensive and far-reaching state legislation in the U.S. enacted to develop a statewide advanced biofuel industry, is based upon the “Field-to-Pump” strategy. Louisiana is the first state to enact alternative transportation fuel legislation that moves fuel ethanol beyond being just a blending component in gasoline by including a mandatory variable blending pump pilot program and hydrous ethanol pilot program;
(2) On December 20, 2008, Renergie submitted a testing exemption application to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) for the purpose of testing hydrous E10, E20, E30 & E85 ethanol blends in non-flex-fuel vehicles and flex-fuel vehicles in Louisiana. On-site blending pumps, in lieu of splash blending, are used for this test. On February 4, 2009, the U.S. EPA granted Renergie a tampering waiver for the purpose of testing hydrous E10, E20, E30 & E85 ethanol blends in non-flex-fuel vehicles in Louisiana. On February 24, 2009, the U.S. EPA granted Renergie a first-of-its-kind RVP waiver for the purpose of testing hydrous E10, E20, E30 & E85 ethanol blends in non-flex-fuel vehicles and flex-fuel vehicles in Louisiana; and
(3) On October 18, 2007, Renergie submitted a grant application to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”), pursuant to the Renewable Energy Technologies Grant Program, for the purpose of funding the comprehensive development of a sweet sorghum-to-ethanol industry in Florida. On February 26, 2008, Renergie was one of 8 recipients, selected from 139 grant applicants, to share $12.5 million from the Florida DEP’s Renewable Energy Technologies Grants Program. Renergie received $1,500,483 in grant money to design and build Florida’s first ethanol plant capable of producing fuel-grade ethanol solely from sweet sorghum juice. On April 2, 2008, Enterprise Florida, Inc., the state’s economic development organization, selected Renergie as one of Florida’s most innovative technology companies in the alternative energy sector. On January 20, 2009, the Florida Energy & Climate Commission amended RET Grant Agreement S0386 to increase Renergie’s funding from $1,500,483 to $2,500,000.
As a means of introduction for first-time visitors, the following is a list of the currently most popular articles and links on the Renergie weblog.
BP’s Strategy to Limit Liability in Regard to Its Gulf Oil Gusher
BP is Not the Only Responsible Party
BP Oil Spill of April, 2010: Why Class Action Lawsuits May Not be in the Best Interests of Potential Plaintiffs
Regional Greenhouse Gas Cap-and-Trade Programs May be the Solution
The U.N. Approval Process for Carbon Offsets
The Role of Offsets in Climate Change Legislation
Why Carbon Emissions Should Not Have Been the Focus of the U.N. Climate Change Summit and Why the 15th Conference of the Parties Should Have Focused on Technology Transfer
Our Nation’s Need to Transition to Hydrous Ethanol as the Primary Renewable Transportation Fuel
The Renergie “Field-to-Pump” Strategy
Florida’s “Port-to-Pump” Advanced Biofuel Initiative
Independent Ethanol Producers in Florida Have the Legal Right to Receive Blender’s Tax Credit
Why the Ethanol Import Tariff Should be Repealed
Independent U.S. Ethanol Producers Will Not Survive as Price Takers
Louisiana Enacts the Most Comprehensive Advanced Biofuel Legislation in the Nation
Why Big Oil Should Not be Allowed to Monopolize the Blender’s Tax Credit
Automakers Support Obama Administration’s Development of National Program for Reducing Carbon Emissions and Fuel Consumption
Automakers Support Obama Administration’s Development of National Program for Reducing Carbon Emissions and Fuel Consumption
Green Car Congress
18 May 2009
The US auto industry, via the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, is lining up to support a new national, harmonized program to reduce carbon emissions and fuel consumption that President Obama will announce on Tuesday, 19 May.
EPA and NHTSA will initiate a joint rulemaking that reflects a coordinated and harmonized approach to implementing the Clean Air Act and the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. The rulemaking is expected to include several elements important to automakers, including:
- Preserving Vehicle Diversity: Harmonized NHTSA and EPA standards would be attribute-based, or based on a vehicle’s footprint. This approach allows for a range of sizes of vehicles to meet consumer needs for passenger and cargo room.
- Providing Certainty for Long-term Planning: Automakers would know what standards will be through 2016, which is critical in an industry where bringing a product to market typically takes 5-7 years. The National Program is intended to give automakers sufficient lead-time to incorporate technology as part of existing vehicle design schedules, so manufacturers would not have to incur added costs from redesigning all their models at one time.
- Providing Flexibility in Achieving CO2-Reduction Goals: EPA and NHTSA would consider a range of compliance flexibility measures, such as earned credits, credit trading, air conditioning credits, and credits for using additional technologies that reduce carbon dioxide (CO2).
A national program is a priority to automakers because a national fuel economy program allows manufacturers to average sales nationwide, avoids conflicting standards from different regulatory agencies, and gives automakers much needed certainty for long-term product planning. (Earlier post.)
For seven long years, there has been a debate over whether states or the federal government should regulate autos. President Obama’s announcement ends that old debate by starting a federal rulemaking to set a National Program. What’s significant about the announcement is it launches a new beginning, an era of cooperation. The President has succeeded in bringing three regulatory bodies, 15 states, a dozen automakers and many environmental groups to the table. We’re all agreeing to work together on a National Program.
—Dave McCurdy, president and CEO, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
In addition, said the Alliance, a national program delivers overall greenhouse gas reductions equal to or better than those that would be realized under separate programs by different regulatory bodies.
The debate over who sets CO2 and fuel economy standards for autos has been decided, but there is still more to talk about. We have the broad outlines of an agreement, but we will need to work closely with NHTSA, EPA and California in the rulemaking process to resolve multiple issues, trying to fit all the elements together into one program. There is a strong commitment from everyone to move past any hurdles that may arise as we work through differences in the way these two federal agencies set standards
We want to finalize a national program so we can move on to policy discussions on what the future of sustainable mobility looks like and how we can get there faster. Alliance members are supporting measures that reduce carbon dioxide even more, like low carbon fuels, advancements in battery technology and consumer incentives to get more advanced technology autos on our roads.
Autos represent 17% of all anthropogenic CO2 in the US, according to EPA.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is a trade association of 11 car and light truck manufacturers including BMW Group, Chrysler, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen.
Renergie was formed by Ms. Meaghan M. Donovan on March 22, 2006 for the purpose of raising capital to develop, construct, own and operate a network of ten ethanol plants in the parishes of the State of Louisiana which were devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Each ethanol plant will have a production capacity of five million gallons per year (5 MGY) of fuel-grade ethanol. Renergie’s “field-to-pump” strategy is to produce non-corn ethanol locally and directly market non-corn ethanol locally. On February 26, 2008, Renergie was one of 8 recipients, selected from 139 grant applicants, to share $12.5 million from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Renewable Energy Technologies Grants Program. Renergie received $1,500,483 (partial funding) in grant money to design and build Florida’s first ethanol plant capable of producing fuel-grade ethanol solely from sweet sorghum juice. On April 2, 2008, Enterprise Florida, Inc., the state’s economic development organization, selected Renergie as one of Florida’s most innovative technology companies in the alternative energy sector. On January 20, 2009, Florida Energy & Climate Commission amended RET Grant Agreement S0386 to increase Renergie’s funding from $1,500,483 to $2,500,000. By blending fuel-grade ethanol with gasoline at the gas station pump, Renergie will offer the consumer a fuel that is renewable, more economical, cleaner, and more efficient than unleaded gasoline. Moreover, the Renergie project will mark the first time that Louisiana farmers will share in the profits realized from the sale of value-added products made from their crops.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )