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. http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2008-11-17-congress_N.htm

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.

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