Peter Bahouth, Executive Director
January 24, 2011
Climate Action Hotline
Last week there was an increased in talk on Capitol Hill about moving a ‘clean’ energy standard, or CES, that would require utilities to generate a portion of power from sources that emit less carbon pollution like solar and wind but, would also include non-renewable sources like nuclear, coal with carbon capture and sequestration, and possibly natural gas. While there are supportive statements from both parties actually passing a bill will likely be difficult. In order to attract Republican votes any energy mandate needs to include nuclear power and fossil fuel energy sources, the very elements likely to repel some Democrats. Battles could erupt over whether a CES bill should block U.S. EPA from regulating the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, a move many Republicans and businesses want but that some Democrats and environmentalists oppose.
Source: E & E News: Buzz Builds For Clean Energy Standard But Passage Won’t Be Easy.
In other Clean Air Act news top staff members for key House and Senate Republicans met in a closed-door session on Tuesday with energy industry interests to work on strategy to handcuff the Obama administration’s climate change agenda. With the backing of GOP caucus leaders, aides for House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee ranking member Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) are seeking unwavering support from a host of industries for an all-out push to block federal and state climate rules. The roster of those attending the invitation-only gathering is being kept under lock and key, though it is believed to include the American Petroleum Institute, National Mining Association, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and others. This month EPA began regulating major emitters of greenhouse gases, including power plants and refineries. Representative Upton is looking to introduce a bill as soon as this week blocking EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, with hearings in his panel next month and a bill brought to the House floor by late February or in March.
Source: Politico: GOP Staff, Energy Lobby In Closed Door Talks.
On January 13 the EPA announced the use of biomass will be exempt from the Obama administration’s new greenhouse gas regulations for three years, giving the agency more time to address concerns that permitting requirements could chill investment in an emerging form of renewable energy. A week later Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said opponents of efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions shouldn’t read too much into U.S. EPA’s recent decision to defer permitting requirements for industries that use biomass. She stated the deferment for biomass was not a sign that the Obama administration is suddenly open to timeouts when it comes to regulating carbon emissions from a host of other energy sources, such as fossil fuels.
Source: E & E News: Sutley Denies EPA Biomass Decision Foreshadows Delays For GHG Regs.
In further EPA news, on Thursday a federal judge in Washington, D.C., has given U.S. EPA one more month to finalize a set of limits on toxic air pollution from industrial boilers, saying the agency’s concerns about the controversial rules don’t justify its request for another 15 months to rework them. The agency has not shown that it would have been impossible to meet the previous deadline of Jan. 16, 2011, District Court Judge Paul Friedman ruled last week. He sided with environmental groups, which had challenged EPA’s request for more time. “Industry has done everything it can to delay these clean up measures, said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. These polluters must be held accountable. Unchecked toxic air pollution from industrial plants is making our families sick.”
Source: E & E News: Court Orders EPA To Finish Boiler Rules By Next Month.
January 16 kicked off the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, with a challenge from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for countries to begin moving ahead of climate change treaty negotiations. The summit, which has attracted leaders from Pakistan to Portugal as well as U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres and hundreds of energy companies, has emerged as a leading forum for clean energy talks. Speaking to the summit on its opening day, Ban urged countries not to wait until international treaty talks are finalized to act on low-carbon development. With 1.6 billion people worldwide still without access to electricity, he said, the world still needs drastic change.
Source: E & E News: A Summit To Push More Nations Into A Low Carbon Future.
Domestic Policy Director