Monday, June 23, 2008

EPA to serve up greenhouse gas questions, quote of the week, and more...

With the start of the Wimbledon tennis championship this morning, there are many questions in the air:

Will Nadal finally dethrone Federer?
Will Maria Sharapova start a new fashion trend?
Will the US EPA serve up any surprises in its “advanced notice” on greenhouse gas emissions?

OK, I think we know the answer at least to the last question. Please read on.


Bush bagel on climate? The White House Office of Management and Budget “officially” began reviewing the lengthy EPA “advanced notice” last week, and it reportedly will be released later today.

If you’ve seen the drafts, you know this “advanced notice” raises many more questions than it answers.

But two things are abundantly clear:

--It is graphic evidence of the stall-ball approach of the Bush administration. Indeed, it may be partly motivated by a desire to bog down the incoming administration will reams of red tape.

--However, it also shows that a new president could have many new tools to take action to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, given the ugly demise of the Lieberman Warner legislation, it seems likely that initiatives on global warming will come from the next administration before Congress gets its act together.

Perhaps most interesting is the section noting that consumers could save a great deal of money with tougher car emission standards because of reduced gasoline costs. And that was at $3.50 a gallon, now a distant memory. [Environmental advocates have been pointing this out for quite some time, by the way.]


Foot fault: BNA Daily Environment Report today corroborates our concern that

The Environmental Protection Agency will lose its vote at October negotiations to revise international emissions standards for oceangoing ships unless Congress enacts legislation (H.R. 802) to implement a treaty setting emissions standards for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from ships and banning ships' use of ozone-depleting substances.

So why does the U.S. Senate continue to drag its feet on this important legislation? Action is needed this week.


Tax-free topspin: We are still waiting to see if the U.S. Treasury Department responds to a request by New York City’s Comptroller to investigate the use of tax-free bonds to finance new coal-fired electric power plants.

We know of at least six planned power plants that fall under this category, and obviously there could be more. Keep your eye on this issue.


Backhanded compliment? Duke Energy CEO, profiled in yesterday’s New York Times Sunday Magazine, on the topic of Senator Barbara Boxer:
In conversations with me, he expressed special disdain for Barbara Boxer, the California senator who shepherded the bill through the Senate environment committee.
“Politicians have visions of sugarplums dancing in their head with all the money they can get from auctions,” Rogers told me last month. “It’s all about treating me as the tax collector and the government as the good guy. I’m the evil corporation that’s passing through the carbon tax so Senator Boxer can be the Santa Claus!” If the government was going to collect cash from carbon auctions, Rogers figured, at least it ought to invest that money in green-tech research. “A billion dollars for deficit reduction,” he vented. “A billion dollars! What is [Boxer] smoking? I thought we were solving carbon here.”
[Note to Jim: that’s not exactly how to win friends and influence people.]


Quote of the week: from NY Times columnist Tom Friedman, in discussing President Bush:

“who has so neutered the Environmental Protection Agency that the head of the E.P.A. today seems to be in a witness-protection program. I bet there aren’t 12 readers of this newspaper who could tell you his name or identify him in a police lineup.”

I only wish we could have something from the late, wonderful comic George Carlin on this topic.

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