|Peter Bahouth, Executive Director
April 4, 2011
Climate Action Hotline
(Photo courtesy of Pete Souza, whitehouse.gov)
In a major speech on energy policy at Georgetown University, President Obama highlighted the energy security benefits of curbing demand for oil. During the speech he called for a consistent long-term fuel-savings strategy of producing more electric cars, converting trucks to run on natural gas, building new refineries to brew billions of gallons of biofuels and setting new fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles.
The partisan rhetoric over gas prices heated up at the Conservative Principles PAC Conference in Iowa this past week, where Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MI) and others pushed the “drill baby drill” agenda. Of course, as President Obama noted in his speech, the U.S. only has 2% of the world’s oil reserves and demands 25% of global supply. Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) was criticized by the independent fact-checking group PolitiFact for the false claim during her speech at the conference that the Obama Administration only issued one drilling permit since coming into office. This statement earned her a ‘pants on fire’ rating from the group.
In other oil related news John Podesta, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress, Carl Pope, Chairman of the Sierra Club, and Gene Karpinski, President of the League of Conversation Voters, released a plan ‘Cleaner Cars Less Foreign Oil’ which outlines the policies needed to boldly reduce out dependence on oil. The brief links the price of oil, the drain on the U.S. economy from our dependence on oil and bold measures that can move us toward a cleaner energy economy, including:
-Cut foreign oil use by 5 percent annually to slash these imports in half by 2022.
-Invest in 21st century clean, efficient vehicles and transportation.
-End tax loopholes for big oil.
-Stop speculators from driving up oil prices.
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill – amidst the threat of amendments on the Small Business Bill that would stop EPA from using existing law to limit carbon pollution – 33 Democratic Senators co-sponsored a resolution to highlight the importance of the Clean Air Act. The resolution, introduced Thursday by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), cites the lives saved and illnesses avoided by federal limits on air pollution. It states “the Clean Air Act is estimated to provide up to $40 of health and economic benefits to Americans for every dollar invested”, highlighting the cost-effective natural of the law. As the Senate continues to debate the Small Business Bill there could be votes on up to four amendments that would change the law to rollback EPA’s ability to set standards for carbon pollution. However, the negotiations broke down and votes on the measures have been delayed.
The nuclear crisis in Japan provides an impetus for Congress to confront a failed national policy on dealing with spent fuel from U.S. reactors, witnesses told a Senate subcommittee Thursday. Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Ernest Moniz called for an accelerated transfer of spent nuclear fuel rods from storage in water-covered pools at reactor sites to concrete and steel “dry” casks. Secondly, Moniz said, the federal government should create several regional facilities to store the containers for an extended period until a new strategy for managing nuclear waste fuel can be put in place. Congress voted to create a permanent spent fuel repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, and the Energy Department has spent $10 billion on research and construction of the facility. But under pressure from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), the Obama administration has shelved the project. Read more at The New York Times.
April 3-8, 2011, marks the next round of UNFCCC meetings, as well as workshops pursuant to the Cancun Agreements in Bangkok, Thailand. Visit the USCAN Bangkok Meeting Page for a compilation of materials and background on the issues being addressed.
Kate Smolski, Domestic Policy Director