Sunday, October 28, 2007

Foreign car makers visit White House -- urge go-slow approach to better fuel economy

It is clearly open season at the White House Office of Management and Budget. Last week not only did public power utilities come calling http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/oira/2000/meetings/668.html , but now it can be revealed that so did foreign car makers. See below.

The purpose of this visit is pretty clear – to influence an upcoming Bush administration proposal aimed at reducing oil use.

We don’t know everything they said, but the leave-behind materials strongly suggest they urged a go-slow approach to possible carbon dioxide tailpipe standards or better fuel economy. Citing experiences in Europe and Japan, they caution against “pushing beyond about 2% a year.” (See http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/oira/2000/meetings/669.pdf )

Keep your eye out for visits by the Big Three and by more oil companies. (Several have already checked in: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/oira/2000/meetings/661.html

http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/oira/2000/meetings/662.html

**

The record of the foreign auto makers visit is documented at:


http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/oira/2000/meetings/669.html


Meeting Record Regarding: Automobile Manufactures
Date: 10/25/2007
-->
Name
Affiliation
Client (if applicable) -->
Kevin Neyland
OMB/OIRA

Richard A. Penna
Van Ness Feldman
Toyota N.A.
Ellen Gleberman
AIAM

Nathan Frey
OMB/OIRA

Scott Lane
Sal and Assoc.
Honda
G. William Macleod
Hyundai

Tracy Woodard
Nissan North American Inc.

Jackie Glassman
Hogan & Hartson
Nissan NA
Edward B. Cohen
Honda

John German
Honda

Tom Stricker
Toyota

Thomas White
DOE

Job Serebrov
USDA/Office of General Counsel

Mike Stanton
AIAM

Salo Zelermye
DOE

Amy Farrell
CEQ

Rich Theroux
OMB

Art Fraas
OMB

Friday, October 26, 2007

NPR's "Living on Earth" show examines Lieberman-Warner climate bill

An excellent story about this controversial plan: http://www.loe.org/shows/segments.htm?programID=07-P13-00043&segmentID=5

Public power utilities urge go-slow approach on global warming, preemption of state authority

Something new today popped up on the White House web site – the outline of a meeting held yesterday between public power utilities and various White House staffers (including OVP, that is, Office of the Vice President). See below and http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/oira/2000/meetings/668.pdf.

It’s not clear why the public power lobbyists, many of them from Nebraska, wanted to meet now with government officials from agencies including OMB, EPA, the Council of Economic Advisers, the Energy Department, the Agriculture Department and the Transportation Department. It is pretty unusual to have the Vice President’s office represented.

But they did leave behind the document which outlines a go-slow approach to dealing with global warming, including such controversial elements as “reform” of the Clean Air Act’s new source review program and the preemption of state CO2 programs. (By the way, one of their first “asks” is changing NSR – way before talk of any cap and trade effort. Don’t they realize the Bush administration has already been working for almost seven years to gut NSR?)

Perhaps the goal was to influence the upcoming Bush administration’s upcoming “20-in-10 rules” designed to reduce fuel use. You’ve got to assume these folks have been making the rounds on Capitol Hill, too, since they were basically pedaling a legislative proposal. Perhaps they are hoping to enlist the administration in their cause.

Their message seems to be “don’t push us to do much very quickly – and get rid of some of these pesky rules we don’t like while you are at it.”

We will continue to monitor developments in the coming weeks.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/oira/2000/meetings/668.html

Meeting Record Regarding: Climate Policy Group
Date: 10/25/2007
Name
Affiliation
Client (if applicable)
Kevin Neyland
OMB/OIRA

John Knepper
OMB

Bill Irving
EPA

Rob Talley
Talley Associates
CPG
Hilary Sills
Sills Associates
CPG
John C. McClure
Nebraska Public Power District

Frank Crane
MEAG Power
CPG
Tim Grove
Omaha Public Power District
CPG
Kelly Fleming
Omaha Public Power District
CPG
Chase Hutto
OVP

Leo Sommaripa
OMB

Job Serebrov
USDA General Counsel's Office

Salo Zelermyer
DOE

Charles Griffiths
CEA

Rich Theroux
OMB

Art Fraas
OMB

Bob De Haan
DOT

Biofuels backlash?

Biofuels is supposed to be good, right?

Well, that depends. See more at http://www.tompaine.com/articles/2007/10/26/biofuel_backfire.php

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Groups to Congress: make sure EPA has adequate power to prevent problems from more ethanol

American Lung Association ∙ Clean Air Task Force ∙ Clean Air Watch
Earth Justice ∙ National Association of Clean Air Agencies
Natural Resources Defense Council ∙ Sierra Club

October 23, 20007

The Honorable Jeff Bingaman The Honorable Pete Domenici
Chairman Ranking Member
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Senate Energy and Natural Resources
Committee Committee
703 Hart Senate Office Building 328 Hart Senate Office Building
United States Senate United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510 Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable John D. Dingell The Honorable Joe Barton
Chairman Ranking Member
House Energy and Commerce Committee House Energy and Commerce Committee
2328 Rayburn House Office Building 2109 Rayburn House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515 Washington, D.C. 20515


Dear Members of Congress:

As House and Senate leaders begin efforts to resolve the differences between the House energy bill, H.R. 3221, and the Senate energy bill, H.R. 6, the undersigned public health, environmental, and state and local air pollution control organizations urge your strong support for Sections 9305 (“Study of Ethanol-Blended Gasoline with Greater Levels of Ethanol”) and 9310 (“Review of New Renewable Fuels or New Renewable Fuel Additives”) of the House energy bill.

EPA Must Study the Effects of Mid-Level Ethanol Use

Congress should enact Section 9305 of H.R. 3221, which directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Transportation, to study the safety, emissions, and performance impacts of gasoline blends containing more than 10 percent ethanol (so-called “mid-level ethanol blends”). As you may know, 10-percent ethanol is the maximum percentage of ethanol allowed for general use today. (E-85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol with gasoline is limited to use in “flexi-fueled” vehicles). Such a study would require an analysis of mid-level ethanol blends for both on- and off-road gasoline engines, including those used in automobiles; boats and jet skis; lawn, garden, and other equipment; and ski mobiles.

There is little available data regarding the impact of mid-level ethanol blends on emission, air quality, public health, or safety. Some existing evidence indicates that the use of mid-level ethanol blends in these engines, especially small off-road engines, may result in operability problems, safety concerns, increased emissions, and reduced performance. Clearly, prudence dictates that before the use of mid-level ethanol blends is authorized, a comprehensive study should be undertaken to evaluate the use of mid-level ethanol blends in all gasoline-powered engines.

While Sections 142 and 149 of the Senate bill require studies of mid-level ethanol, we support Section 9305 of the House bill because it would require that the study be led by EPA, the federal agency best equipped to address the emissions, safety, and operability issues associated with mid-level ethanol blends. In addition, the study required by the House bill is more comprehensive.

EPA Approval of Mid-Level Ethanol Blends Should be Conducted Like Other Clean Air Act Rules

The House energy bill includes specific provisions related to EPA’s role in reviewing and approving applications under Section 211(f)(4) for new renewable fuels and renewable fuel additives; the Senate bill contains no such provisions.
We support the provisions of Section 9310 of H.R. 3221, which would require that EPA provide public notice and comment prior to approving or denying an application to introduce a new renewable fuel or new renewable fuel additive blend into commerce. Currently, under Section 211(f)(4) of the Clean Air Act, if EPA receives an application to approve the sale of mid-level ethanol blends, it is not required to provide public notice of the fact that it received such an application and it is not required to request and evaluate public comment on such an application. Further, current law does not require EPA to affirmatively grant or deny such an application by a date certain. However, Section 211(f)(4) does provide that if EPA does not act on an application for approval within 180 days of its submission, the application is deemed granted, even in the absence of EPA action, public comment, or consideration of the application’s merits.

We support Section 9310 of H.R. 3221 because it would require EPA to subject applications for approval of a new renewable fuel or new renewable fuel additive under Section 211(f)(4) to public notice and comment to assure that all stakeholders have the opportunity to submit their views to EPA for consideration. Section 9310 would further require EPA to take final action on an application within nine months of its submission after applying the evaluation criteria of existing law to the use of a new renewable fuel or renewable fuel additive in on-road and off-road engines.

Section 9310 of H.R. 3221 does not amend Clean Air Act Section 211(f)(4). Rather, it imposes additional requirements on EPA when considering application for approval of new renewable fuels or renewable fuel additives under Section 211(f) (4). We urge you revise Section 9310 to amend Section 211(f)(4) of the Clean Air Act to ensure that EPA’s consideration and decision-making regarding new renewable fuels and new renewable fuel additive applications for approval are subject to the same enforcement and judicial review requirements as all other provisions of the Clean Air Act.
The use of mid-level ethanol blends across our nation could have significant impacts on engine emissions, air quality, engine performance, and safety. The approval of mid-level ethanol use in the nation’s fuel supply must be subject to significant analysis and full public scrutiny. Sections 9305 and 9310 of the House bill, as described above, would accomplish this and, therefore, we urge you to support these provisions.
Sincerely,
Paul G. Billings Conrad Schneider
Vice President, National Policy & Advocacy Advocacy Director
American Lung Association Clean Air Task Force

Frank O’Donnell Marty Hayden
President Legislative Director
Clean Air Watch Earth Justice

S. William Becker Karen Wayland
Executive Director Legislative Director
National Association of Clean Air Agencies Natural Resources Defense Council

Debbie Sease
National Campaigns Director
Sierra Club





Cc: The Honorable Harry Reid
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hartford Courant editorial cartoon on Lieberman-Warner climate bill


I suspect this will probably not be mounted in Senator Lieberman's office. The cartoon depicts Lieberman hugging a smokestack while saying "Don't worry, darling, the giveaways in my climate bill will protect you."

Friday, October 19, 2007

Climate bill has sticking point

An excellent piece in today's Hartford Courant:

Critics: Industry Might See Big Windfall With Lieberman Legislation

By RINKER BUCK Courant Staff Writer

October 19, 2007

When Sen. Joseph Lieberman introduced his America's Climate Security Act on Thursday, many called it the most ambitious global warming initiative in U.S. history.And that should have made the Connecticut independent a hero to environmentalists.But a number of environmental groups are less than enthusiastic about of one of the most important aspects of the measure."This is a political concession to coal-burning companies," said Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch. "We are not among those gushing about this bill."

[The full story at:

http://www.courant.com/news/local/hc-global1019.artoct19,0,509413.story ]

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Power companies lobby to weaken already compromised climate bill

From BNA Daily Environment Report
Oct. 16, 2007


12 Electric Utilities Ask SenatorsFor Price Cap on Carbon Allowances

A group of 12 electric utilities called Generators for Clean Air wrote to Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) Oct. 12 asking them to put a price cap on any emissions allowances that would be allocated under climate change legislation.

According to the letter, if technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is not readily available, "a safety valve would protect our customers and the economy by ensuring that allowance prices remain stable."

"A safety valve would not be a disincentive to invest in carbon capture and sequestration and other cost-effective measures if it is set at a level that maintains an economic incentive for research, development and deployment of new technologies," the letter said. The letter was signed by signed by Paul Bailey, director of Generators for Clean Air.

Members of the coalition include Allegheny Energy, American Electric Power, DTE Energy, Duke Energy, Edison International, MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., PNM Resources, PPL Corp., Reliant Energy, Salt River Project, Wisconsin Energy, and Xcel Energy.

The letter comes as the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, of which Boxer is the chairman and Inhofe the ranking Republican, prepares to consider legislation being introduced this week by committee members Joseph Lieberman (I/D-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va.). That legislation would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from covered sources by 70 percent by 2050 using emissions trading (149 DEN A-9, 8/3/07 )....

A Lieberman aide responded to the Generators for Clean Air letter, saying, "Yes, we continue to be aware that there are electric utility companies who want a price cap. Just as we continue to be aware that there are environmentalists who want emissions to be cut to 80 percent below 1990 levels from 100 percent of the U.S. economy, with no price cap."

Boxer has stated support for the cost-containment approach in the Lieberman-Warner plan and opposes a safety valve (134 DEN A-3, 7/13/07 ).

Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, responded to the letter, saying, "It's an attempt to weaken a plan that's already a political compromise. It is a hint of the sort of battles to come if and when the Lieberman-Warner plan comes to the Senate floor."

Clean Air Watch released a report in September criticizing the Lieberman-Warner plan as a windfall for utilities because it would give them allowances during the first years when it is in effect, allowances they could sell on the open market. Also, according to O'Donnell, because the plan would not cover the entire economy, it actually would reduce nationwide emissions by about 51 percent by 2050, not 70 percent (192 DEN A-8, 10/4/07 )

Monday, October 15, 2007

The ugly politics of global warming in Congress

Compromising Our Planet's Future
Congress May Pass Inadequate Global Warming Bill To Claim Hollow Victory


Oct. 15, 2007


This column was written by Mark Hertsgaard.

Now that Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, will the U.S. Congress take the IPCC's scientific advice on how to fight global warming? The IPCC holds that the world must reduce greenhouse gas emissions at least 80 percent by the year 2050. Few in Congress seem prepared to go that far, however. And judging from the discussion at a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill last week, even lawmakers who personally embrace the "gold standard" of 80 percent reductions are prepared to endorse a weaker measure in the name of getting some form of climate legislation moving in Congress.


more from The Nation magazine, at:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/10/15/opinion/main3367086.shtml

Friday, October 12, 2007

Business opportunities in a low-carbon economy

One of the enduring myths propagated by opponents to new controls on global warming pollution is that it will cause economic mayhem. (See, for example, the recent Washington Post Outlook piece by Bjorn Lomborg.)

We rarely hear the flip side of the issue—that new limits on heat-trapping emissions not only are needed to protect the planet, but actually could become an economic boon for companies smart enough to develop cleaner products.

[more at:
http://www.tompaine.com/articles/2007/10/12/green_yields_green.php ]

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

As anticipation builds on Senate climate bill, key health and environmental groups say it should include other power plant pollutants

Anticipation is building about next week’s expected formal introduction of the Lieberman-Warner climate bill (we are scouring the globe for intelligence about it, and may have more tomorrow), three key health and environmental groups are urging the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to make sure that climate legislation incorporates pollution limits for other electric power plant emissions – sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury.

In a letter today to Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Bernard Sanders (I-VT) – who have all introduced multi-pollutant legislation in this Congress -- the American Lung Association, the Clean Air Task Force and the National Parks Conservation Association said “Addressing all four pollutants in your legislation will provide enormous benefits for the environment and for public health. It will also provide clarity to the power sector to help drive cost-effective ways of meeting its obligations to address climate change and protect public health and the environment simultaneously.”

The groups added that “Climate legislation alone will not necessarily result in reductions in power sector NOx, SO2, and mercury…If economy-wide legislation is enacted that reduces global warming emissions without addressing the electric utility sector’s other major pollutants, it may be invoked as a roadblock to prevent enactment of such legislation in the future.”

So things are going to get mighty interesting as the Senate panel tries to fast-track a climate bill before the United Nations climate change conference begins in Bali in early December.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

AEP is brought to justice...and related matters

One of America’s biggest environmental outlaws has finally been brought to justice.

Unfortunately, breathers have waited far too long for justice. Lawsuits were brought against Ohio-based American Electric Power by the Clinton administration, various state attorneys general and environmental groups way back in 1999.

AEP was guilty as sin, and agreed to settle the case only because it knew it was going down. AEP’s claim of no wrongdoing is reminiscent of the infamous nolo contendere plea of Vice President Spiro Agnew, who was caught taking bribes.

A footnote: Despite this settlement, AEP remains the biggest global warming polluter in the U.S. It has now turned its lobbying attention towards making sure it cushions any cleanup requirement by demanding free carbon credits – a bad idea that may be endorsed by Senators including Joe Lieberman, John Warner and literally dozens of other lawmakers that have received recent AEP campaign contributions. (See at http://www.cleanairwatch.org/ .)

**

Other news: More positive news about global warming – or at least the potential for cleanup – at a hearing tomorrow by Rep. Ed Markey’s (D-MA) Select global warming committee. Among featured witnesses – PSEG CEO Ralph Izzo, who has endorsed the idea of carbon auctions (as opposed to the AEP giveaway strategy), and Neil Carson, CEO of the UK-based Johnson Matthey, who will be representing the Prince of Wales Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change and is expected to discuss business opportunities in a low-carbon future. The hearing begins tomorrow at 9:30 am in room 2172 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
**

Finally, today is the close of the official public comment period on the US EPA’s proposal to update national air quality standards for smog. Tens of thousands of citizens have joined health and environmental groups to urge EPA to set standards based on real science, not political science.

Friday, October 05, 2007

California to Boxer: giving away emission credits to polluters would penalize consumers, reward polluters with "windfall profits"

With the new Lieberman-Warner global warming bill introduction on the horizon, California has weighed in with its climate policy recommendations to Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

And California has objected in strong language against the notion of giving away free emission credits to polluters based on past emissions.

“Free distribution based solely on historic emissions will only serve to reward the biggest polluters at the expense of consumers and penalize early leadership,” notes the policy, transmitted yesterday to Boxer’s staff by California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols. “Freely allocating allowances can lead to large windfall profits.”

Clean Air Watch raised similar concerns in recent reports (both available at www.cleanairwatch.org ) which noted the problems with giving away free credits to the biggest polluters and cautioning that the draft Lieberman-Warner bill could lead to windfall profits for the dirtiest companies.

Reports are that there’s been many a meeting behind the scenes since the draft was floated in August – and many of us are watching to see if Lieberman and Warner keep the same polluter-friendly formula when they unveil the official bill, possibly on October 15. (If they make no changes to this aspect of the bill, it would suggest that the big coal-burning companies have a heck of a lot of political clout. We noted their widespread use of campaign contributions in a separate report yesterday.)

Something to look for: how will Boxer react in the face of the recommendations by her own state?

Among its other recommendations, California also called on Boxer to preserve states’ rights on motor vehicle standards and related issues.

“States have led the way in developing climate policy and the Federal Government should preserve the ability for states to innovate and implement new and creative policies into the future.”

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Big polluters use campaign cash to shape global warming bills

It's the way Washington, D.C. often really works. Big polluters are using campaign cash to shape bills being drafted in Congress to deal with global warming.

More at http://cleanairwatchpressroom.blogspot.com/

The full report is at http://www.cleanairwatch.org/Documents%20&%20Reports/Hot%20Checks%20report%20pdf.pdf