Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Native American tribe to White House: don't relax clean-air requirements

A new objection has surfaced to the Bush administration’s midnight march of dirty-air deals.

In this case, a Native American tribe – the Forest County Potawatomi Community --
has gone to the White House in an effort to block an upcoming rule change that would permit more dirty air in national parks and wilderness areas.

The tribe notes that the rule could also mean more dirty air in tribal lands, which achieved special (Class 1) clean-air protections earlier this year.

It met with the White House Office of Management and Budget on Nov. 24. See record of the meeting, below.

OMB reports that, as of this morning, the rule is still under review.

Meeting Record Regarding: NSR Increments
Date: 11/24/2008
Client (if applicable) -->
Marc Lampkin
Quinn Gillespie & Assocs.
Forest County Potawatomi
Janet McDonald

Jeff Crawford
Forest County Potawatomi

Art Harrington
Godfrey & Kahn
Forest County Potawatomi
Elizabeth Kopits

Kevin Neyland

Heidi King

Jim Laity


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Waxman victory: a breath of fresh air

As you may know by now, Rep. Henry Waxman of California officially was selected to chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the new Congress, replacing Rep. John Dingell of Michigan. The vote by the House Democratic Caucus was 137-122 in favor of Waxman.

Waxman’s victory is a breath of fresh air – of clean air. It was a stunning defeat for the corporate lobbyists on K Street.

And it was nothing if not historic, bucking the traditional congressional seniority system.

It shows that a majority of the House Democrats are ready to work with the incoming Obama administration on effective global warming legislation.

We hope that those on the losing side of today’s vote will take a positive attitude moving forward. And that enlightened members of both parties will work together on global warming and other crucial environmental issues.

Smokey Joe Barton backs Dingell in clash with Waxman

With a showdown vote looming today on the clash between Congressmen Henry Waxman and John Dingell, one of Congress' most notorious polluter sympathizers has spoken.

Republican Congressman Joe Barton (once named "Smokey Joe" by the editorial pages of the Dallas Morning News for his loyalty to anything with a smokestack) says he favors Dingell.

From today's Dallas Morning News:

Mr. Barton, the top Republican on the energy committee, said both men are "very smart and very aggressive." But Mr. Barton said he favors Mr. Dingell.

"Dingell tends to be more bipartisan," Mr. Barton said. "I don't have
any reason to fault John Dingell in his chairmanship."

The whole story:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Waxman wins round one in battle with Dingell

This just in from our friends with E&E News:

HOUSE: First round of Energy and Commerce battle goes to Waxman
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) scored a slim opening round win today in his bid to take the gavel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee from Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.).

Waxman captured a majority of support from the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, a group heavily tilted toward allies of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). The final tally was 25-22, according to Steering Committee co-Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) Dingell, the 27-term lawmaker from the auto manufacturing hub of Dearborn, Mich., collected the bulk of his votes from industrial state lawmakers.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More on Waxman and Dingell, and reactions to Obama's climate remarks

Today’s USA Today piece on the Waxman-Dingell battle was quite good, if you haven’t seen it.

The first skirmish is tomorrow in the House Steering and Policy Committee, which will make a recommendation. The House Democratic Caucus will vote, probably Thursday morning, to decide the issue. We (thankfully!) have no inside scoop on this. But have a gut feel that Waxman will prevail. We do believe his approach is more closely aligned with the “change” agenda of President-Elect Obama.

Speaking of which: you’ve undoubtedly heard or seen Obama’s remarks to the big conference on climate change hosted by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. (The text of the Obama remarks are below.)

Obama’s comments are winning effusive praise from environmentalists and some business groups alike.

Schwarzenegger himself described Obama’s remarks as “fantastic.”

Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said Obama’s call for legislation to cap emissions, one of the first specific policy statements Mr. Obama has made since his election, was a particularly important signal that he will, as he promised during the campaign, make global warming a top priority. Added Larry Schweiger, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation: "With today's call for action on global warming, President-elect Obama has kicked the gears of change into motion.”

We do expect opposition from the usual crowd – the Chamber of Commerce, etc.

But we are encouraged that some companies are speaking up publicly. For example, the Michael Bradley, head of the Clean Energy Group of power companies, put out a statement this afternoon:

The Clean Energy Group’s Clean Air Policy Initiative welcomes President-elect Obama’s leadership on this important issue. As long time supporters of mandatory climate change legislation, we are encouraged by his clear commitment to implementing effective solutions to address global warming. We look forward to working with the new Administration and Congress to develop a national climate change program that also addresses our country’s energy security and sends the right market signals to direct capital investment to the lowest-cost solutions.

- Michael J. Bradley, Executive Director of the Clean Energy Group’s Clean Air Policy Initiative, on behalf of Avista, Calpine, Constellation Energy, Entergy, Exelon, Florida Power & Light, National Grid, PG&E Corporation, PSEG, and Seattle City Light

Obama Remarks as Delivered:

Let me begin by thanking the bipartisan group of U.S. governors who convened this meeting.

Few challenges facing America – and the world – are more urgent than combating climate change. The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear. Sea levels are rising. Coastlines are shrinking. We’ve seen record drought, spreading famine, and storms that are growing stronger with each passing hurricane season.

Climate change and our dependence on foreign oil, if left unaddressed, will continue to weaken our economy and threaten our national security.

I know many of you are working to confront this challenge. In particular, I want to commend Governor Sebelius, Governor Doyle, Governor Crist, Governor Blagojevich and your host, Governor Schwarzenegger –all of you have shown true leadership in the fight to combat global warming. And we’ve also seen a number of businesses doing their part by investing in clean energy technologies.

But too often, Washington has failed to show the same kind of leadership. That will change when I take office. My presidency will mark a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change that will strengthen our security and create millions of new jobs in the process.

That will start with a federal cap and trade system. We will establish strong annual targets that set us on a course to reduce emissions to their 1990 levels by 2020 and reduce them an additional 80% by 2050.

Further, we will invest $15 billion each year to catalyze private sector efforts to build a clean energy future. We will invest in solar power, wind power, and next generation biofuels. We will tap nuclear power, while making sure it’s safe. And we will develop clean coal technologies.
This investment will not only help us reduce our dependence on foreign oil, making the United States more secure. And it will not only help us bring about a clean energy future, saving our planet. It will also help us transform our industries and steer our country out of this economic crisis by generating five million new green jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced.

But the truth is, the United States cannot meet this challenge alone. Solving this problem will require all of us working together. I understand that your meeting is being attended by government officials from over a dozen countries, including the UK, Canada and Mexico, Brazil and Chile, Poland and Australia, India and Indonesia. And I look forward to working with all nations to meet this challenge in the coming years.

Let me also say a special word to the delegates from around the world who will gather at Poland next month: your work is vital to the planet. While I won’t be President at the time of your meeting and while the United States has only one President at a time, I’ve asked Members of Congress who are attending the conference as observers to report back to me on what they learn there.

And once I take office, you can be sure that the United States will once again engage vigorously in these negotiations, and help lead the world toward a new era of global cooperation on climate change.

Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all. Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response. The stakes are too high. The consequences, too serious.

Stopping climate change won’t be easy. It won’t happen overnight. But I promise you this: When I am President, any governor who’s willing to promote clean energy will have a partner in the White House. Any company that’s willing to invest in clean energy will have an ally in Washington. And any nation that’s willing to join the cause of combating climate change will have an ally in the United States of America. Thank you.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Congress and Clean Air: the Battle between Waxman and Dingell

See the Gristmill blog at

Please note, for the record, that I did not originate the phrase "Tailpipe Johnny," though I may have been the first to report it in a national magazine in 1982.

The phrase properly should be credited to the late Republican Congressman Ed Madigan of Illinois. The context was Madigan's describing a meeting he had in 1981 with Dingell and then-Republican Congressman Jim Broyhill of North Carolina. Dingell and Broyhill had teamed up to promote legislation, in concert with the Reagan administration, to weaken the Clean Air Act. (This is referenced in the International Encyclopedia of Environmental Politics at )

Madigan recalled that Broyhill and Dingell walked into the room for the meeting. "Here comes Smokestack Jim and Tailpipe Johnny," said Madigan, who later became Secretary of Agriculture under the first President Bush and died of lung cancer in 1994 at the age of 58.