Friday, January 22, 2010

Murkowski: Clean Air Act should not be used to regulate emissions (!!)

From yesterday’s polluter-inspired diatribe from Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski:

“…But I think much of the rest of America—including State officials, businesses, farmers, and taxpayer advocates—all share our belief that the Clean Air Act should not be used to regulate emissions.

[Congressional Record, page S 86]

Uh, that’s the whole point of the Clean Air Act.

Maybe someone ought to start proofreading the work of her ghostwriters.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Polluter lobbyists caught ghost writing for Murkowski on climate

POSTED AT 3:55 PM ET, 01/11/2010
Murkowski and her lobbyist allies
By Juliet Eilperin

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is likely to postpone offering an amendment next week that would bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The delay would give Democrats a little bit of breathing space on the politically sensitive issue of whether the Obama administration can take the lead on curbing greenhouse gases if Congress fails to act this year. Murkowski first attempted to offer the measure back in September, but as part of a leadership deal between the two parties, she had postponed the move until Jan. 20.

The maneuvering comes as The Washington Post has confirmed that two Washington lobbyists, Jeffrey R. Holmstead and Roger R. Martella, Jr., helped craft the original amendment Murkowski planned to offer on the floor last fall. Both Holmstead, who heads the Environmental Strategies Group at Bracewell & Guiliani, and Martella, a partner at Sidley Austin LLP, held senior posts at EPA under the Bush administration and represent multiple clients with an interest in climate legislation pending before Congress.

In an interview, Holmstead said of the Murkowski amendment, "I certainly worked with her staff" on the exact phrasing of the measure in September.

"I was involved," he said, adding that Martella also helped advise Murkowski's aides on the matter. "The line out of the White House and the administration was that the amendment would block the car and truck rule" setting the first-ever greenhouse gas limits on emissions from vehicles, which are set to become final in March.

Holmstead represents industry interests including Southern Company, Duke Energy, Progress Energy and the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council on climate matters, according to congressional lobbying registration forms, while Martella represents the National Alliance of Forest Owners and the Alliance of Food Associations on the same subject...

Emily Figdor, who directs the federal global warming program at the advocacy group Environment America, said the fact that Murkowski continues to explore different legislative options shows the uphill battle she faces in attacking EPA's Clean Air Act authority.

"Striking at the heart of the Clean Air Act isn't a popular thing to do," said Figdor, adding that as of last month Murkowski ranked as the top congressional recipient of donations from electric utilities.

And Frank O'Donnell, president of the advocacy group Clean Air Watch, said, "It's not a total shock that ex-Bush administration officials are ghostwriting for Murkowski on climate, though she ought to come clean and admit it so we can understand that big polluters are behind her initiative."

Friday, January 08, 2010

Rep. Pomeroy: Clean Air Act could block new coal plants

From the office of Rep. Earl Pomeroy, Democrat of North Dakota:{820ACC56-0438-4323-9649-1F5FC2D3C563}&DE={D25117D9-B5E7-4097-BE18-A61C9A15C2A3}

Washington, D.C., Congressman Earl Pomeroy today announced introduction of H.R. 4396, the Save Our Energy Jobs Act, legislation which would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gases. This legislation has been introduced in response to a recent EPA announcement that it was moving forward on new rules to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. This action, if not prevented, could dramatically increase energy rates as well as end up costing North Dakota jobs...
...current control technologies and measures are either unproven or incredibly expensive and could in effect, make new coal facilities impossible to build.

I think old Earl just pointed out exactly why it's important for EPA authority under the Clean Air Act to remain intact!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Clean Air Watch Hails EPA Smog Proposal

(Washington, D.C., January 7, 2010) – The non-profit Clean Air Watch today hailed the Environmental Protection Agency’s new smog proposal as a “breath of fresh air.”

The EPA today proposed to set tougher national standards for ground-level ozone, commonly referred to as smog.

“Smog is the nation’s most widespread air pollutant and one of the most dangerous,” noted Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch. “Smog can make us sick. It can send us to the hospital. It can literally kill.”

O’Donnell called today’s announcement “a breath of fresh air from the government.” He added “it could translate into fresher air for every American.”

Technically, the EPA is proposing to reconsider a decision made in 2008 while President Bush was in office. At that time, the EPA rejected the unanimous recommendations of EPA’s science advisers and set standards that were too weak to protect public health and the environment. It was disclosed that President Bush personally intervened to weaken part of the EPA standards.

By contrast, the new EPA plan would follow the recommendations of the science advisers. The agency proposed a range of possible public health standards – all of them tougher than those put forth by the Bush administration. EPA also proposed special smog protection for the environment, including plants and trees.

EPA deferred a final decision until August, and O’Donnell predicted that “big polluters will mobilize in opposition.” He noted that oil industry lobbyists have already been to the White House to protest tougher standards.

“This EPA decision will determine the quality of the air we breathe in America for the next decade, and probably beyond. If EPA follows through, it will mean significantly cleaner air and better health protection,” O’Donnell added.

Clean Air Watch will join the American Lung Association and other health advocates to press for the best possible standards.


Monday, January 04, 2010

New Year's predictions: tougher clean air standards on the way

Happy New Year to you all.

We expect some very interesting developments in 2010, including tougher national clean air standards for some of the nation’s most widespread pollutants, including smog (ozone), sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. Some big developments are slated for this week. A little more on these, below.

Over the course of the next decade, these decisions could lead to more positive real-world impacts than some of the “compromise” climate plans being discussed in the U.S. Senate. You may want to keep this in mind amid some of the “will the Senate pass it?” type stories on climate. (Speaking of which, I predict more skepticism about so-called “carbon capture and sequestration” technology. There have already been reports in Canada warning of potential water pollution, and I believe there will be more cautionary notes sounded.)


Smog stunner? Later this week, the US EPA is expected to announce its proposed decision to reconsider the national ozone, or smog, standards set by the Bush administration. As you may recall, the Bush team ignored the unanimous advice of EPA’s science advisers and set weaker-than-appropriate standards. For a preview of what we expect from the new team,

Clean Air Watch will be joining with the American Lung Association Wednesday, January 6, in a media briefing by telephone.

The briefing begins at 1 pm Eastern time at: 212-401-6760; Participant PIN Code: 9049136#.


Sulfur session: Tomorrow, the US EPA holds a hearing in Atlanta on its proposal to set a new national standard to limit short-term public exposure to sulfur dioxide. Our friends from the American Lung Association will testify. We support their statements. Final EPA standards are due in early June.


Nitrogen next: The White House Office of Management and Budget is reviewing final EPA rules that are expected to set a new national standard to limit short-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide. Clean Air Watch has joined the American Lung Association is urging tougher standards and a better system of monitors near high-exposure areas such as near major roads.


“Renewable” fuels? OMB is also reviewing final EPA rules that would carry out the congressional mandate to ramp up the amount of “renewable” fuel used by motor vehicles. You may recall we raised concerns about a part of the EPA proposal that appeared to be an accounting trick aimed at making fuel from corn and soybeans look greener. The ag lobby, of course, has been leaning on EPA to make its plan even worse from an environmental standpoint. (No, that’s not how the corn crowd would characterize it, of course.)

With this looming, last week 11 Northeastern states announced they would adopt a low-carbon fuel standard modeled on that issued by the state of California. Needless to say, the corn lobby is suing to overturn the California standards.


One item on the climate front I thought worth sharing is this item from the Huffington Post. I do think it will be interesting to see if the Cantwell-Collins climate alternative gets more traction.