Friday, September 15, 2017

Gulf Disaster Approaches End as Senate Again Delays Energy Bill, Climate Action Hotline 8.6.10

US Climate Action Network

August 6, 2010

Gulf Disaster Approaches End As Senate Again Delays Energy Bill

On day 108 of the BP oil catastrophe, the company began pouring cement to seal the blown out well and eliminate the chance it would pour more oil into Gulf waters. The United States this week estimated the BP blowout, which began with an explosion and fire on April 20, released an oil torrent that measured 4.9 million barrels. Even with the 800,000 barrels that BP says it captured, the Gulf blowout is the largest oil disaster ever.

As if to buffer the magnitude of that number, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in an assessment on Wednesday that most of the oil had evaporated, been skimmed from the water, dispersed by chemicals, or otherwise disappeared. The agency also asserted that much of the environmental harm had departed with the vanished oil, a point that Gulf state scientists disputed.

“We’ve never had a spill of this magnitude in the deep ocean,” Ian R. MacDonald, a professor of oceanography at Florida State University, told the New York Times. “These things reverberate through the ecosystem. “It is an ecological echo chamber, and I think we’ll be hearing the echoes of this, ecologically, for the rest of my life.”

The same thing could be said about the echo chamber in Washington, where last May’s Senate assurance of introducing comprehensive climate and energy legislation became a July promise of introducing just an oil disaster response bill, which this week became a weak statement, at best, that such a bill might be introduced in September.

Climate advocates will keep pushing in Washington, and at the international climate meetings heading to the UN climate summit in Cancun in December. Jonathan Pershing, the U.S. climate negotiator, said at the climate meeting in Bonn that despite the failure to act on a U.S. climate bill, “the United States is not backing away from the commitments our president made in Copenhagen. “

The U.S. Copenhagen commitment calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. The World Resources Institute recently released a study that said the country could get most of the way to that goal through federal regulatory action and state measures, including renewable energy standards that require utilities to generate a portion of their power with cleaner alternatives like wind, solar, and geothermal energy.

One of the states where a renewable energy standard has influenced carbon emissions and industrial development is Michigan, where $3 billion in federal, state, and private sector funds is being invested for wind and solar development and $6 billion is being spent on next generation vehicles. On Thursday, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm appeared at a clean energy briefing at the Center For American Progress.  She was asked what she would do to break through the Senate logjam to advance comprehensive national climate and energy legislation.

“We have to get off the debate about whether global warming is occurring,” said the two-term Democratic governor, who noted that the first phase of clean energy development in her state would generate 89,000 new jobs. “We have to talk about jobs.”

She added: “Assume that the 132 countries that made commitments to cut their emissions are serious. Assume that those countries have analyzed the jobs that are inherent to do that. Then the best argument is about jobs for America. We need all kinds of jobs for all kinds of people. We are turning our back on this opportunity. Let’s just talk about the opportunity for jobs.”

In a nation where people care most about either finding or hanging on to a good job, maybe that is the best way to reach voters and the political leaders who represent them.

Until next week, take care, Keith Schneider

Climate Progress

Fallout Begins After Senate’s Failure to Act on Energy
On Tuesday senator Majority Leader Reid announced that the energy bill will be delayed until September. After the worst oil leak in U.S. history and months of heated negotiations on energy and spill-response legislation, senators will head home for the August recess empty-handed.

Senate Democrats Hope Delay Will Lead to Broader Oil Response Bill
Senate leadership’s decision to punt a narrow energy bill to September has some Democrats hoping there is still a chance to pass a more sweeping measure this year. While many Democrats were disappointed that even the narrow package could not clear the chamber amid a heated pre-election political climate, some see the stall as an opportunity to renew their push for more a more aggressive bill when the Senate returns from the August recess.

Two Democrats May Counter Rockefeller
Rockefeller is seeking a vote this year on a bill that limits EPA authority to regulate greenhouse gases from industrial facilities for two years. Democrats Carper and Casey plan to introduce their own proposal in order to draw attention and support from Rockefeller. Carper and Casey’s countermeasure proposal would exempt small sources from EPA climate rules while allowing the agency to regulate the larger polluters.

A Bet on Clean Energy in the Automotive State
There are 17 new plants in production, under construction or approaching groundbreaking in Michigan’s nascent vehicle battery sector, according to the state Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth. Two of them, representing an investment of $523 million, are in Holland, a city of 34,000.

BP Starts Cementing Gulf Oil Well
BP started pumping cement into its blown-out Gulf of Mexico well as it moved to permanently kill the source of the world’s worst marine oil spill.

Overseas Frustration Grows Over U.S domestic Impasse on Climate Policy
Top climate change leaders from Europe to Africa are wondering if it’s time to give up on the United States. Frustrated by the U.S. Senate’s recent abandonment of climate legislation and baffled by Congress’ seeming inability to cut emissions, several countries are uncertain about America’s role in upcoming treaty negotiations.

US keeps climate goal despite Senate setback
The United States stands by its 2020 target for reducing greenhouse gas
emissions despite the Senate’s failure to pass legislation to fight climate
change, the top U.S. climate envoy said on Monday.

Pessimism Clouds Climate Meeting
This week in Bonn, negotiators are meeting to prepare for this year’s
annual climate meeting, COP-16 (the 16th Conference of the Parties of the
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), which opens in late
November in Cancún, Mexico. There is little optimism this time around. Even
the few areas of agreement that were hailed as great accomplishments in the
Copenhagen Accord seem to be back on the negotiating table.

New UN climate change chief rallies governments to step up action
Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC), made her first address at the UN climate change
talks, and emphasized the need to work together.

Will Russia’s Heat Wave End Its Global-Warming Doubts?
At a meeting of international sporting officials in Moscow on July 30,
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev acknowledged the need for heads of state
to come together and work on fixing the global challenges with the climate.

Climate Action Hotline is the new weekly update by the US Climate Action Network. Let us know what you think.
Special Coverage
Video Of The Week
Quote Of The Week
“We will have created a significant milestone and made a major step forward probably by tomorrow when the cementing is done,” retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen told reporters. “I think we can all breathe a little easier regarding the potential we’ll have oil in the Gulf ever again. But, we need to ensure the people of the Gulf and the people of the United States that this thing is properly finished and that will be through the bottom.”