Thursday, April 28, 2011

AEP ad from the 1970s touting coal burning

The tactics are different today, but the objective is the same

AEP admits it wrote dirty-air bill

an excerpt from Greenwire:

AIR POLLUTION: American Electric Power seeking legislation to delay EPA regulations (04/28/2011)

The largest coal-burning utility in the United States is shopping a bill to lawmakers that would delay a host of environmental regulations, including forthcoming U.S. EPA rules for mercury and other toxic emissions, as well as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and coal ash.

American Electric Power Co. Inc. has written legislative language at the request of lawmakers who represent states where it operates coal-fired power plants, including Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), company spokeswoman Melissa McHenry said...

The proposal would give utilities more time to comply with the rules for mercury and other air toxics, which were proposed last month, as well as the Clean Air Transport Rule, which addresses soot- and smog-forming emissions that cross state lines. Power plants would need to cut their emissions or shut down by 2020, rather than 2014 and 2015, when the two rules would take effect...

Legislation aimed at EPA's new air pollution rules is also being crafted by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), though no bill has been finalized.

Robert Sumner, a Whitfield spokesman, said he and his staff often discuss those issues with the companies that would be affected, but "should the [Energy and Commerce] committee elect to take up this issue, members of the committee -- not outside organizations -- will be responsible for drafting that legislation."

The pending legislation drew criticism from environmental groups. Though the two pollution rules would cost power companies tens of billions of dollars, they would also save thousands of lives per year, according to EPA estimates...

"It's clearly a well-thought-out bill but awful for clean air," said Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch.

Such a bill could be meant for "home-state consumption," he said. Working to keep coal-fired power plants open would be a résumé-builder for lawmakers like Manchin, who needs to run for re-election in 2012 after winning his seat in a special election last fall.

Pay to Play? Clean Air Watch examines the money and dirty-air politics of Rep. Ed Whitfield

As many of you know, Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) has declared he will try to delay critical EPA air pollution standards -- standards that could prevent tens of thousands of premature deaths a year,

Interestingly, the polluter-witnesses bolstering Whitfield's attack gave generous campaign contributions right before Whitfield held a hearing to create a public record for his scheme.

Coincidence, or connection?

Clean Air Watch examines publicly available (though little-scrutinized) documents in Pay to Play?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Major fracking lawsuit to be announced tomorrow

MEDIA ADVISORY - Announcement of Multi-Million Dollar Landmark North American Lawsuit on Hydraulic Fracturing and Its Impact on Groundwater

Suit Accuses EnCana, Alberta Environment and Energy Resources Conservation Board of Negligence and Unlawful Activities

Case To Be Presented at United Nations in New York

CALGARY, April 26 /CNW/ -


WHEN: Wednesday April 27th
11:00 AM

WHERE: Lounge, Kensington Riverside Inn,
1126 Memorial Dr. NW
Calgary, AB

1.) Nearly a decade ago, EnCana, one of the world's largest natural gas producers, began a risky and experimental drilling program that required intense hydraulic fracturing for shallow coalbed methane (Horseshoe Canyon Formation) throughout central Alberta.

2.) Hydraulic fracturing blasts open oil, gas and coal formations with highly pressurized volumes of water, sand and undisclosed chemical fluids or gases. The technology has boosted natural gas reserves but has become the subject of serious government investigations throughout North America due to surface and groundwater contamination.

3.) Alberta's primary energy regulator, the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB), recently disclosed that the potential for hydraulic fracturing to contaminate useable water aquifers with fracturing fluid chemicals and natural gas is a real public issue, especially in shallow zones.

4.) On Wednesday morning, lawyers representing Jessica Ernst, a 54-year-old oil patch consultant, will release a 73-page statement of claim that alleges that EnCana broke multiple provincial laws and regulations and contaminated a shallow aquifer used by a rural community with natural gas and toxic industry-related chemicals.

5.) The claim methodically reports how Alberta's two key groundwater regulators, Alberta Environment and the ERCB, "failed to follow the investigation and enforcement processes that they had established and publicized."

6.) The ERCB recently gave EnCana permission to drill and fracture more CBM wells above the base of groundwater protection near the affected water wells mentioned in this claim.

7.) The United Nations invited Jessica Ernst to present her story and make recommendations to governments at the 19th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development in New York next week.

8.) The claim represents assertions that have not yet been proven in court. All defendants will have the opportunity to respond in these proceedings.

Website: will go live at 10:00AM MTS on Wednesday.


US Congress: Chemicals Used in Hydraulic Fracturing

University of Toronto and Munk School of Global Affairs Program On Water Issues:

Fracture Lines: Will Canada's water be protected in the rush to develop shale gas?

ERCB: Unconventional Gas Regulatory Framework

National Energy Board: Overview and Economics of Horseshoe Canyon Coalbed Methane Development

For further information:
Jessica Ernst
Phone (excluding April 30 - May 7): 1-403-677-2074
>From May 1 - 6:
LEO HOUSE. 332 W 23rd St
New York, NY 10011
(212) 366-0100

Murray Klippenstein (Legal Counsel)
Phone: 1-416-937-8634 (Cell); 1-416-598-0288 (Office)

Cory Wanless (Legal Counsel)
Phone: 1-647-886-1914 (Cell); 1-416-598-0288 (Office)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

How American Electric Power Celebrates Earth Day.....

Fighting against the cleanup of its pollution-belching coal power plants on Oklahoma. Breathers beware!

AEP-PSO: EPA's haze-reduction timeline 'not physically possible'

The battle over proposed EPA rules on regional haze and emissions could end up highly charged in more ways than one, AEP-PSO officials said Thursday.

The federal rejection of a state plan to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions at three Oklahoma coal-fired plants will challenge realism and reliability, Stuart Solomon said during a meeting with the Tulsa World editorial board to detail the electricity utility's issues with the EPA proposal. Solomon is president and chief operating officer of American Electric Power's Tulsa-based subsidiary, Public Service Company of Oklahoma.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shot down a state plan to reduce regional haze at the three plants over a longer time frame, instead proposing the 95 percent reductions within three years of a final approval. The affected plants include AEP-PSO's two coal-fired units at Northeastern in Oologah and similar OG&E facilities in Muskogee and Noble County.

"It's not physically possible to do this in three years," Solomon said Thursday.

AEP-PSO, which provides power to 525,000 customers statewide, estimated that installing scrubbers and other improvements within that three-year window would cost about $800 million, which ultimately would be passed on to customers. A highly contentious $82 million rate case approved in January 2009 raised bills about 7 percent for the average customer.

The new increases would add 10 percent to 12 percent on bills purely for the regional haze compliance issues, AEP-PSO estimated. Future carbon limitations could raise that overall increase from 20 percent to 25 percent.

The rejected state plan, which AEP-PSO and OG&E helped craft with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, reportedly would have achieved the same reductions over a longer time frame. The emissions controls would have been completed by about 2026.

"We're going to do the right thing from an environmental standpoint," Bud Ground, AEP-PSO's manager of governmental and environmental affairs, said during the meeting. "We want to do it in a way that doesn't cripple the customer or the economy."

The EPA's response indicated in its opinion that the cost of those improvements, such as coal scrubbers, was only about half of what AEP-PSO estimated. Ground replied that contractors and planners responsible for those kind of projects have worked on about $5 billion worth of work on projects.

"We think we know what it's going to take to build those controls," Ground said.

An EPA public hearing on regional haze held last week in Tulsa featured numerous residents applauding the stricter emissions standards and vowing they would be happy to pay higher rates. In reality, AEP-PSO officials said, most ratepayers are angry or at least resistant when increases are imposed.

A case in point is the utility's recent WindChoice Tariff option, in which customers can purchase pure wind power generated at Minco turbine farm for a $1.72 premium per 100-kilowatt hour block. Previous surveys indicated that a sizable portion of customers said they were willing to pay more, but so far only a couple hundred have signed up for the WindChoice option.

Wind energy in itself is not the final answer to cleaner power generation, Solomon added. Variability is always a challenge with wind generation, which forces utilities to use natural gas-fired plants to offset those factors.

And although some federal regulators and environmentalists opposed the use of coal, Solomon still believes that it's the most abundant and cheapest fuel source available for AEP-PSO and other power generators. Natural gas may be only $4 per million British thermal units now, but the price was up to $15 only a few years ago, and utility officials believe their greatest hedge is having a variety of sources.

Those are long-term issues, but AEP-PSO's immediate focus is on rebutting the EPA's findings while also moving toward cleaner-burning generation units, both coal and gas, Solomon said. A last resort would be state Attorney General Scott Pruitt's threat to sue the EPA.

Haze and sulfur dioxide are just the beginning for AEP-PSO and other utilities. An Edison Electric Institute chart adapted from a 2003 EPA report shows possible regulatory changes for the utility industry. The busy, color-coded timeline shows various rules and deadlines for ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, transport efficiency standards, ash, carbon dioxide and effluents.

Keeping up with all of those will be time-consuming and expensive, the AEP-PSO officials said.

"The EPA clearly has a role," Solomon said. "All we've said is the right way to do this is in a balanced way."

EPA's public comment period on the regional haze rules will end May 23. The rules may be put in final form by November.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Wall Street Journal: EPA staff says set tougher standards for particle soot

Air-Quality Standards Questioned by EPA Staff
By Ryan Tracy
The Wall Street Journal Online

WASHINGTON—U.S. government scientists questioned federal standards for particle pollution in the air, setting the stage for the Environmental Protection Agency to propose tougher rules affecting emissions from power plants, manufacturers, or automobiles later this year.

The EPA said Friday it hasn't decided whether to strengthen the rules in question. But in a report made public this week, EPA staff said "currently available information clearly calls into question the adequacy of the current standards." The staff were examining EPA regulations for "fine particles" found in smoke or haze emitted after fuel is burned.

"It is the official declaration by EPA experts that current air-quality standards for particle soot are far too weak and need to be updated," Frank O'Donnell, president of the environmental group Clean Air Watch, said of the report. "If the political appointees of the Obama administration follow through honestly, they will have to set significantly tougher standards to protect people's health."

The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set standards for air quality, including the presence of tiny particles that can cause lung and heart problems when they are inhaled. States then develop plans to implement the standards.

In 2006, the Bush administration updated the standards but didn't change a critical standard for fine particles. Watchdog groups sued and won, with a federal court ordering the EPA to revisit the fine-particle standard because the agency hadn't proven that the rule adequately protected public health.

The scientists' report was published Tuesday as part of an assessment of the EPA's options for changing the rule. The EPA said it will issue a formal proposal later this year.

The agency is also reviewing standards for other types of particle pollution, including what are known as coarse particles. Coarse particles are larger than fine particles and are associated with dust from farming and mining operations in the Western U.S.

On standards for coarse particles, the EPA scientists were less clear in Tuesday's report. They wrote that it would be "appropriate" for the EPA to keep current standards or to revise them.

Farmers and their allies in Congress have been worried that the EPA will decide to set strict standards for airborne dust in rural areas. Richard Krause, senior director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau, said that lowering the acceptable level of coarse particles in the air "is going to have a lot worse economic impacts and a lot worse effects on business."

"We would prefer to keep it as it is," he said of the rule.

In their assessment, the EPA scientists acknowledged "uncertainties and limitations" regarding the evidence for negative health impacts from particle pollution.

But they concluded there was enough evidence for the EPA to consider tougher rules on emissions for fine particles, which can come from coal-fired power plants, factories, and transportation fuels that contain sulfur.

"Consideration should be given to revising the suite of standards to provide increased public health protection," the scientists wrote.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Driller halts PA fracking after blowout

(and right after the company paid for a study to trash the Cornell guy who raised questions about fracking and the release of climate change gases)

from Reuters:

Chesapeake Energy suspended the use of a controversial natural-gas production technique in Pennsylvania on Thursday as it worked to contain a well blowout that spilled toxic fluid into a local waterway.

Chesapeake, one of the state's biggest shale gas producers, will use a mix of plastic, ground-up tires and heavy mud to plug the well - an operation that echoes BP's "top kill" effort to seal its ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil well last year.

The company said it still did not know the cause of the blowout a day and a half after it occurred.

more at

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

You know the Iowa caucuses are drawing near...

When the EPA and Dept. of Agriculture tour Iowa to hump the dubious merits of dirty-air-causing ethanol. And no mention that the farm lobby is fighting against any EPA limits on dangerous large particle pollution. But let them speak for themselves...

From BNA Daily Environment Report:

Vilsack Says Support of Ethanol Industry
Is Key Part of Strategy to Reduce Foreign Oil

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said April 19 that the administration's commitment to support the biofuel industry is a big component of its plan to reduce reliance on unstable supplies of foreign oil.

“Agriculture has an important role in this,” he told a teleconference he co-hosted with Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to talk about their visit earlier in the day with renewable energy leaders, farmers, and ranchers in Iowa.

...Vilsack said he and Jackson traveled in Iowa together to emphasize the partnership between USDA and EPA in ensuring the continuing productivity of U.S. agriculture.

“USDA will continue to work hand-in-hand with EPA to ensure that both agencies are pursuing common-sense regulation that will let farmers make the decisions they feel are best for their own operations,” Vilsack said in a prepared statement.

“EPA's mission to safeguard clean air, clear water and productive land is a critical part of sustaining farming jobs and productivity, and it's vital that we communicate and work together on these issues we share,” Jackson said in the same statement.

EPA Waiver on Limiting Ethanol

For example, EPA's recent decision to waive a limitation on selling gasoline that contains more than 10 percent ethanol represents one of several steps needed from federal and state governments and industry to commercialize E15 gasoline blends, a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, the two agencies said (15 DEN A-9, 1/24/11).

In addition, the renewable fuel standard EPA proposed will encourage farmers to continue to work with industry to innovate and provide the nation with a source of clean renewable fuel, they said. “At the same time, it will create jobs around the country and increase farmers' income by $13 billion annually,” the agencies said.

During the teleconference, Jackson said farmers did not tell “EPA to go away” or say they were anti-regulation, but told the agency their concerns were that “rules and regulations were practical on the ground.”

Jackson said she learned on the tour about the “remarkable innovation” happening now on farms to make crops more productive while simultaneously helping air and water quality.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

T. Boone Pickens to America: go frack yourself

An excerpt from E&E News PM:

NATURAL GAS: Pickens dismisses Cornell emissions study

T. Boone Pickens, the billionaire oilman now promoting a plan to harness wind energy and natural gas, brushed off a Cornell University study today that found coal is in some ways cleaner than gas.

"That's the only person I've ever heard say coal is cleaner than gas," Pickens said in a luncheon speech at the National Press Club. "I don't know who paid him to do that study."

Cornell professor Robert Howarth and two colleagues released a study last week that disputes the widely stated belief that gas is twice as "clean" as coal in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

Their research found that the process of "hydraulic fracturing," which is required to extract gas from shale, emits enough methane to make it dirtier than coal in the short term and "comparable" in the long term (Greenwire, April 11). Methane is a greenhouse gas that is more potent than carbon dioxide but does not last as long in the atmosphere.

The finding has been fiercely disputed by industry. But Howarth has staunchly defended his study...

Pickens is pushing for legislation that would subsidize conversion of heavy trucks to operate on natural gas.

Pickens appeared with fellow billionaire Ted Turner in a press club session billed as an energy debate. But Turner did not debate Pickens' points on gas drilling.

"He knows a lot more about it," said Turner, the CNN founder who is investing much of his fortune and fame to fight climate change. "He's an oilman. I'm a TV guy."

Pickens also dismissed contentions that hydraulic fracturing contaminates groundwater, saying that he "fracked" 3,000 wells through the Ogallala Aquifer without damaging drinking water. The aquifer sprawls under parts of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming.

"You're [drilling and fracturing] 2 or 3 miles below the aquifer," Pickens said. "You tell me how you could contaminate the water.

"People ask me, 'You fracked 3,000 wells? How do you feel about yourself,'" Pickens recalled. "I tell 'em, 'I feel about the same as I did yesterday.'"

US EPA staff: we need much tougher national standard for fine particle soot

US EPA professionals are calling for much tougher national clean air standards for fine-particle soot.

The call came in a final “policy assessment” regarding new clean air standards for soot in the air. This is a critical step as the agency moves to set new national standards.

Tougher standards would underscore the need to do more to clean up the biggest sources of fine particle soot, including coal-burning power plants and diesel engines.

You may recall a bit of the history: in 2006, the Bush EPA set standards that ignored the advice of the agency’s science advisers. Most important, the EPA left the critical annual average standard for fine particle soot where it had been before – at 15 micrograms per cubic meter.

Some state, environmental and health groups sued, and a federal court agreed that the EPA had been “arbitrary and capricious” in setting a standard that ignored the advice of the science advisers, who had recommended a lower level to protect people’s health.

As a result, the Obama EPA agreed to move ahead and review the latest science with an eye towards revising the standards.

As you may recall, the agency’s science advisers strongly recommended a tougher annual standard. And now the EPA professionals are on record agreeing. The next step in this process is an actual proposal by the EPA to change the current standards.

We hope EPA moves quickly on this issue because fine-particle soot is literally a killer. It shortens peoples’ lives and can make them very sick.


Below are excerpts of the report, which can be found here:

On tiny, so-called “fine” particles:

Taking into account both evidence-based and risk-based considerations, staff concludes that consideration should be given to revising the current annual PM2.5 standard level of 15 μg/m3 to a level within the range of 13 to 11 μg/m3. Staff further concludes that the evidence most strongly supports consideration of an alternative annual standard level in the range of 12 to 11 μg/m3. [my emphasis added]

In conjunction with consideration of an annual standard in the range of 12 to 11 μg/m3, staff concludes it is appropriate to consider retaining the current 24-hour PM2.5 standard level at 35 μg/m3. In conjunction
with consideration of an annual standard level of 13 μg/m3, staff concludes there is limited support to consider revising the 24-hour PM2.5 standard level to somewhat below 35 μg/m3, such as down to 30 μg/m3.

The EPA professionals also looked at the issue of bigger particles, or “coarse” particles in the jargon of the bureaucracy. In this case, they’ve recommended a lower standard, but one that would permit more days of dirty air under that new standard. We are still examining this, but believe in fact it could actually constitute a weakening of current standards. As you may know, the “coarse” particle standard has come under fire by the farm lobby and its noisy supporters in Congress.

On “coarse” particles:

To the extent consideration is given to revising the current standard, which has a one-expected-exceedance form and a level of 150 μg/m3, staff concludes that consideration should be given to revising both the form and level. In this case, consideration should be given to a 98th percentile form and a level within the range of 85
μg/m3 down to about 65 μg/m3, in conjunction with retaining the PM10 indicator and the 24-hour averaging time. Staff also concludes that standard levels in the upper part of this range are supported by the strongest evidence.

Monday, April 18, 2011

EPA: climate emissions fell 6.1 percent in 2009

EPA Publishes National U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory

Release date: 04/18/2011

Contact Information: Cathy Milbourn 202-564-7849 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released the 16th annual U.S. greenhouse gas inventory. The final report shows overall emissions during 2009 decreased by 6.1 percent from the previous year. This downward trend was attributed to a decrease in fuel and electricity consumption across all U.S. economic sectors.

Total emissions of the six main greenhouse gases in 2009 were equivalent to 6,633 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. These gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride. The report indicates that overall emissions have grown by more than 7.3 percent from 1990 to 2009. Emissions in 2009 represent the lowest total U.S. annual GHG emissions since 1995. These numbers reflect the most up to date data at the time of publication.

The Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2009 tracks annual greenhouse gas emissions at the national level and presents historical emissions from 1990 to 2009. The inventory also calculates carbon dioxide emissions that are removed from the atmosphere by “sinks,” e.g., through the uptake of carbon by forests, vegetation and soils.

This inventory, prepared in collaboration with federal agencies, is the latest submitted by the United States to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC sets an overall global framework for nations to address climate change. The final report takes into consideration comments received from stakeholders across the country.

More information on the greenhouse gas inventory report:

Friday, April 15, 2011

"Smokey" Joe Barton claims no "medical negative" from toxic air pollution

The editorial page of the Dallas Morning News once gave Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) the moniker "Smokey Joe" -- and did he ever live up to that name today?

At a congressional hearing designed to lay the groundwork for an effort to delay critical EPA toxic pollution standards, Barton made the truly astonishing assertion that reducing emissions of toxic mercury, sulfur dioxide and particle soot would not bring health benefits.

Though conceding he is "not a medical doctor," Barton was quick to offer some sweeping medical conclusions, based on his "hypothesis."

"I think the EPA numbers [that EPA's toxic pollution standards for power plants could reduce up to 17,000 premature deaths a year] are pulled out of thin air," claimed Barton. "There is absolutely nothing to back it up."

Barton went on to assert that the toxic emissions were causing "no medical negative." And so, according to his logic, reducing the pollution would bring no quantifiable benefits.

Barton said he had heard no evidence of "mercury poisoning" at any of the factories or power plants operated by various hearing witnesses.

I guess he forgot that the people most in risk of getting poisoned -- babies -- don't work in factories.

This is pretty appalling stuff, since Barton and colleagues will probably soon be voting on legislation to delay toxic pollution cleanup.

See for yourself as Barton questions our friend, John Walke, from NRDC at about 1:25 into the video here:

"CSX" Ed Whitfield slams TVA coal cleanup

You have to hand it to Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY). He is consistent in his fealty to coal. Here is his latest:

from Environment & Energy Daily

The Kentucky congressman who oversees the Clean Air Act had harsh words yesterday for the Tennessee Valley Authority's new plan to clean up the air pollution from its coal-fired power plants.

The board of the federally owned utility moved yesterday to approve a deal with U.S. EPA, several states and environmental groups, all of which had accused TVA of violating federal air pollution rules.

By agreeing to shut down 18 coal-fired boilers and spend $3 billion to $5 billion on new pollution controls for others, TVA could end up charging higher electricity prices to its ratepayers, said Rep. Ed Whitfield, the Republican who chairs the House Energy and Commerce subpanel on energy and power. The agreement is an "outrageous" example of environmentalists and EPA officials being allowed to decide energy policy, he said.

"Today's announcement by TVA is a prime example of what is wrong with national environmental policy in the United States," Whitfield said in a statement. "It is being determined by privately settled lawsuits and monetary payoffs with absolutely no input from elected representatives in the Congress. We intend for this to stop."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Boehner: we may come after EPA during debt ceiling debate

This should not come as a shock, but now the Speaker has made it official: EPA could come under the gun yet again during the upcoming debt ceiling debate. Friends of clean air should be aware. The Speaker used some florid -- and very misleading -- rhetoric:

"Clearly, the direction of the EPA and the direction they're heading with their numerous regulations are going to cripple our economy and cripple the ability of employers to create jobs."
Sorry, Mr. Speaker, but you are wrong. EPA's clean-air standards CREATE jobs.

Here is a squib from today's E&E PM:

EPA: Boehner suggests agency could be under scrutiny during debt ceiling debate

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) today declined to rule out making limits on U.S. EPA regulatory authority part of talks on the must-pass legislation raising the federal debt ceiling, setting up a third front for battle between the agency's friends and foes in the Capitol.

Asked by a reporter at his weekly press briefing today whether EPA's politically volatile greenhouse gas limits would be "part and parcel" of the debt-limit debate, which is expected to see the GOP push for significant concessions from the White House, Boehner left the door open.

After broadly citing "many decisions about what will or won't be part of raising the debt limit," the Ohioan replied: "But, clearly, the direction of the EPA and the direction they're heading with their numerous regulations are going to cripple our economy and cripple the ability of employers to create jobs."

...The speaker is not the first Republican to suggest that EPA's powers could be on the table as part of pending debt limit discussions. House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) predicted earlier this week that "no debt limit is going to pass by itself" and that "significant pieces" could be attached to a ceiling-hiking measure.

Follow Southern Company's advice... and kill 500 people a week!

As we reported yesterday, the notorious polluter Southern Company is the headliner witness at tomorrow’s hearing by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power. And what great timing for Southern, whose boss declared yesterday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, self-pitying, that coal was “under attack.“

Southern’s boss, Tom Fanning, plans, so to speak, to fan the flames tomorrow when he appears before the panel chaired by Rep. “CSX” Ed Whitfield (R-KY), who apparently hopes to use Fanning’s hysterical, sky-is-falling comments to make a case for delaying toxic pollution controls on power plants, cement plants, and industrial boilers.

The EPA has reported that its toxic air pollution standards for these industries would prevent up to 26,000 premature deaths a year – or about 500 a week.

So if Congress follows the delay path being explored by “CSX” Ed with Southern’s help, it would be shortening the lives of up to 500 people every week. (Some wonder if that’s a new strategy to reduce Medicare costs, but let’s leave that idea aside for the moment.)

Since Fanning spends so much time talking about his company’s “impressive” environmental record, maybe we should put that record in some context:

Southern Company was literally the biggest polluter in America for sulfur dioxide, according to the most recent CERES “benchmarking” emissions report. It ranked second only to American Electric Power for emissions of toxic mercury, smog-forming nitrogen oxides and heat-trapping carbon dioxide.

In 1999, the EPA and Justice Department launched a series of suits against Southern Company (among other big polluters) for allegedly failing to install pollution controls on power plants that were modernized. Southern’s immediate response was to help set up an organization called the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, designed to kill the EPA lawsuits and change the underlying rules. Southern also aggressively fought against the EPA in court, though its Alabama Power subsidiary did settle one of the cases:

It also lost its attempt to change the EPA rules themselves, when a federal court said only a “humpty dumpty” logic could support an interpretation of the law that Southern was championing.

Southern has been one of the biggest-spending lobbyists in DC for years – not to mention among the most effective. Some of you are old enough to recall one of its key lobbyists in the late 1990s was Haley Barbour, former chair of the Republican National Committee, now governor of Mississippi and talked about as a presidential contender. It was Haley Barbour who persuaded then Vice President Dick Cheney to break President George Bush’s 2000 campaign pledge to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Check the Senate lobbyist disclosure records if you want all the details on recent lobbying expenses to such high-powered firms as Barbour Griffith and Rogers, Bracewell Giuliani, Hunton & Williams and Heather Podesta and Partners. A lot of very nice people work for them, as many of you know.

Southern is well known for fighting not only against EPA clean-air requirements, but also against a national renewable electricity standard -- no coal in that! -- and against a plan to create a national electricity market.

Southern, or course, is also one of the biggest-spending campaign contributors among power companies. Its PAC alone distributed more than $300,000 in the last election cycle to House and Senate candidates, including – of course – Whitfield and full committee chair Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) as well as House Speaker John Boehner. By the way, this PAC actually gave more money to Democratic House candidates in the last political cycle, including Rep. Mike Ross (AR), John Dingell (MI), and Mike Doyle (PA).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Southern Company, other polluters, to headline April 15 House witch hunt of EPA toxic standards

I guess we should not be surprised to learn that the infamous Southern Company will headline the April 15 hearing by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, as it examines key EPA clean-air standards to reduce toxic emissions from electric power plants, industrial boilers and cement plants. See attached witness list and memo, below.

A couple of things to keep in mind:

These standards are crucial public health protections. EPA projects that combined they could prevent as much as 26,000 premature deaths a year. (Power plants: up to 17,000; boilers: up to 6,600; cement kilns: up to 2,500).

These standards are incredibly cost-effective. And they also would create jobs. The power plant rule alone would create 31,000 short-term construction jobs and 9,000 long-term utility jobs, according to EPA’s calculations.

But that appears to be of little interest to the Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, including subcommittee Chair Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), a big defender of coal dating back to his days as a lobbyist for the coal-hauling CSX railroad company. (They are giving this hearing the misleading title “The American Energy Initiative,” which perhaps was aided by pollster/propagandist Frank Luntz. A more apt name: “Poisoning America in the interests of campaign contributors.”)

In his quest to kneecap EPA, Whitfield has invited a veritable rogues’ gallery of black-hat witnesses. They are led by Southern Company, a long-time opponent of EPA clean-air standards, and DTE Energy, sued last year for pollution violations

Other witnesses include the head of Titan America LLC, which operates numerous cement plants and who is also chair of the fierce EPA critic, the Portland Cement Association. (Titan, ironically, just received an EPA award: ) as well as a vice president from Meadwestvaco, a prominent member of the anti-EPA National Association of Manufacturers and critic of EPA

As you may know, EPA is not sending a witness because the witch hunters threw this panel together so quickly. But we expect the clean-ups will be defended by our friend John Walke, of NRDC, and by Michael Bradley, head of the Clean Energy Group, which has praised the power plant proposal.

Here is the memo from the subcommittee staff and the witness list:


Majority Memo for Subcommittee Hearing

Attached is a majority briefing memo for the Subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing entitled “The American Energy Initiative”, scheduled for Friday, April 15, 2011, at 9:00 a.m. in 2123 Rayburn House Office Building. This fifth day of the hearing on The American Energy Initiative will focus on "Recent EPA Rulemakings Relating to Boilers, Cement Manufacturing Plants, and Utilities."

A bipartisan staff briefing for this hearing will be held on Thursday, April 14, 2011, at 2:00 p.m. in 2322 Rayburn House Office Building. The Democratic staff briefing will follow immediately after the bipartisan briefing in 2327 Rayburn.

If you have any questions concerning this hearing, please contact Mary Neumayr at extension 5-2927.

April 13, 2011

TO: Members, Subcommittee on Energy and Power
FROM: Subcommittee on Energy and Power Staff
RE: Hearing on “The American Energy Initiative”

On Friday, April 15, 2011, at 9:00 a.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building, the Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold the fifth of a multi-day hearing entitled “The American Energy Initiative.” This hearing will focus on recent EPA rulemakings relating to utilities, cement manufacturing plants, and boilers. Witnesses are expected to testify on the impacts and the timelines for implementing these rules, in the context of the economy and other recent EPA rulemakings.

The invited witnesses are:

Mr. Tom Fanning Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Southern Company

Mr. Anthony F. Earley, Jr. Executive Chairman DTE Energy

Mr. Aris Papadopoulos President and CEO Executive Director
Titan America LLC

Mr. Michael J. Bradley The Clean Energy Group

Mr. Dirk Krouskop VP, Safety, Health & Environment MeadWestvaco Corporation

Mr. Paul Kempf Director of Utilities University of Notre Dame

Mr. John Walke Senior Attorney and Clean Air Director
Natural Resources Defense Council

House Republicans target key EPA toxic pollution standards

from Politico's Morning Energy:

MACT BILL POSSIBLE THIS WEEK - House Energy and Commerce Democrats are expecting their GOP colleagues to circulate legislation aimed at EPA's finalization and implementation of rules to curb toxic air pollution from industrial boilers, utilities and cement plants prior to a committee hearing Friday on the so-called MACT rules. GOP committee staff declined to comment on the prospects of a roll out this week.

Scott Segal, an industry attorney at Bracewell & Giuliani, tells ME he expects to see bipartisan support for the E&C legislation, saying Congress should address 'real problems with the substance of the proposed rules.' Expect fierce pushback from greens on any effort to slow down the rules projected to prevent tens of thousands of premature deaths per year.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

EPA, state cleanup, climate programs take big hit in budget deal

The budget deal "savages" money to states, notes my friend, Bill Becker.

See below. Maybe some folks were popping the champagne a bit early.
Below are excerpts from two reports, first from BNA Daily Environment Report:

EPA Budget Cut by $1.6 Billion
In Spending Agreement Reached for FY 2011

The spending agreement between congressional leaders and the White House for the rest of fiscal year 2011 would reduce the Environmental Protection Agency's budget by 16 percent to $8.7 billion and the Department of Energy's energy efficiency and renewable energy program by 18 percent to $1.83 billion.

Details of the agreement on a final continuing resolution (H.R. 1473) were released April 12, and the House leadership has indicated the House will take up the measure April 14.

Overall, federal spending on discretionary programs covered by the continuing resolution would be reduced to $1.049 trillion, $37.5 billion below enacted fiscal year 2010 enacted levels under the agreement reached among the House and Senate leadership and the White House on April 8.
The $37.5 billion in federal spending cuts include the $12 billion in reductions that were approved by Congress in March in two separate short-term spending measures.

The $1.6 billion cut to EPA's spending include nearly $1 billion to its wastewater and drinking water infrastructure programs. DOE's energy efficiency and renewable energy programs would be cut by more than $400 million under H.R. 1473.

The bill cuts climate change funding across all agencies by $49 million, which House appropriators say is $13 million below the enacted levels.
The spending measure adopts at least two climate change amendments included by Republicans in H.R. 1, the House-adopted spending bill that failed in the Senate. First, it bars the White House from using funds to appoint an assistant to the president on energy and climate change, and bars the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from creating a NOAA Climate Service, which would integrate all its programs into one service.

In its fiscal 2012 budget request, NOAA called for a reorganization to bring its various climate initiatives under a single climate service.
H.R. 1473 does, however, provide $10 million to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

[and this from Greenwire:]

The spending deal brokered last week by President Obama and Congress to avert a government shutdown would balance most its $1.6 billion in cuts to U.S. EPA's budget on the backs of state regulators and local environmental projects, according to details of the bill that were released by appropriators early this morning.

Three-quarters of the cuts, totaling $1.19 billion, would come from State and Tribal Assistance Grants (STAG), which mainly fund water infrastructure upgrades and state plans to comply with new federal rules. That includes a $997 million cut from a pair of revolving funds that finance local drinking water projects and efforts to clean up polluted bodies of water.

With total funding of $3.77 billion, the STAG programs make up less than half of EPA's $8.7 billion budget under the pact. Though the president proposed a similar cut to the revolving funds in his fiscal 2012 budget request, his pact with Republicans would now pull funding for the water infrastructure projects a year early.

The budget deal also includes a $191 million cut to regional programs, such as Obama's own Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Those programs would now get almost exactly as much as Obama requested this year for projects in the Great Lakes, as well as the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound.

Those cuts, along with a plan to rescind $140 million of unobligated grants from the STAG program, will be a blow to state agencies that are limping due to years of state budget cutbacks, said Bill Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. The spending deal also rejects the administration's request for an extra $82 million in grants to help states implement new air pollution rules from EPA, and cuts another $10 million on top of that, he said.

Becker said it's "disconcerting" that many lawmakers want to shrink the federal government, but they are doing it by taking most of the money away from state and local agencies. For example, the spending deal zeroes out a $20 million program meant to cut air pollution in smog-choked areas of Southern California.

It isn't fair that "Congress asks the states to carry out the will of these environmental statutes, and then savages the funding required to do these tasks," Becker said. "We're trying to do the job that Congress asked us to do."

While the cuts to EPA grant programs were mostly in line with the president's request for next year, the deal goes after the agency's own efforts by taking money from EPA scientists and the offices that design the agency's regulations. Scientific programs would get $815 million, down $42 million from fiscal 2010, and environmental programs would end up with $2.76 billion, down 8.8 percent from last year.

That was a key demand for Republicans such as House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers of Kentucky, who framed the spending deal today as a a way to "rein in out-of-control federal bureaucracies."

Northeastern states: EPA blew it on carbon monoxide proposal

See NESCAUM's comments under "items of interest" at

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cornell researchers: shale gas at least as bad as coal

from Greenwire:

ENERGY POLICY: Shale gas isn't cleaner than coal, Cornell researchers say (04/11/2011)

Mike Soraghan, E&E reporter

Cornell University researchers say that natural gas pried from shale formations is dirtier than coal in the short term, rather than cleaner, and "comparable" in the long term.

That finding -- fiercely disputed by the gas industry -- undermines the widely stated belief that gas is twice as "clean" as coal in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. The gas industry has promoted that concept as a way for electric utilities to prepare for climate change regulations by switching from coal-fired plants to gas.

But if both gas and coal are considered plentiful and cheap, utilities would have little incentive to switch.

The lead author of the study, Robert Howarth, had previously stated the idea that shale gas production emits more greenhouse gases than coal production (ClimateWire, April 2, 2010). But now it is being published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

"Compared to coal, the footprint of shale gas is at least 20 percent greater and perhaps more than twice as great on the 20-year horizon and is comparable when compared over 100 years," states a pre-publication copy of the study, which is slated to be published in the journal Climatic Science and originally obtained by The Hill newspaper. [Here is the Hill item: ]

Howarth and his fellow Cornell professors, Renee Santoro and Anthony Ingraffea, found the process of "hydraulic fracturing," which is required to extract gas from shale, emits enough methane to make it dirtier than coal. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is more potent than carbon dioxide but does not last as long in the atmosphere.

But industry representatives disputed numerous points in the study, saying the researchers used unconventional methodologies to reach their conclusion.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Did Democrats agree to a Dick Cheney-style inquiry of EPA?

There are reports that House Republican efforts to adopt various anti-EPA budget riders have been shelved in favor of a "study."

But what is the nature of this study?

We are told that it could be modeled on the so-called TRAIN act, which would create a Dick Cheney-like study of EPA rules. The inquiry panel would be exempt from the Federal Advisory Committee Act -- that is, it could meet in secret. Our friend, Rena Steinzor, head of the Center for Progressive Reform, noted the problems inherent in such a study when she appeared before Congress this week:

Bad guys in Congress turn attention to other EPA coal rules

Having voted to gut EPA's climate authority -- an action rejected by the Senate -- bad guys in the House of Representatives now are turning their attention to other key EPA rules that could affect coal.

Environment and Energy Daily has a good piece this morning about this new assault, as well as "discussion draft" legislation (see at )

Excerpts of the story are below. This is obviously an attempt to intimidate EPA and throw a money wrench into EPA attempts to deal with dangerous power plant pollution, including smog-forming emissions, mercury and other toxic emissions.

EPA: House panel mulls Cabinet study of new power sector regs (04/08/2011)
Gabriel Nelson, E&E reporter

Amid fights over U.S. EPA's climate change programs and efforts to stop the agency's new regulations through the budget process, a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee met yesterday to debate the idea of forming a Cabinet-level commission to figure out how much the agency's new environmental standards for coal-fired power plants would cost all together.

The Energy and Power Subcommittee reviewed a discussion draft from Reps. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) and John Sullivan (R-Okla.) that seeks to study the impacts of several new regulations on air pollution, water use and waste products from the power sector.

Lawmakers heard yesterday from companies such as Big Rivers Electric Corp., a Kentucky power company that gets 97 percent of its 1,500 megawatts of generating capacity from burning coal. Mark Bailey, the company's CEO, said the company would need to spend about $785 million to comply with new rules, and he is worried that higher electricity prices would shut down two aluminum smelters that use 70 percent of the electricity produced by Big Rivers.

Those costs would come primarily from new rules for coal ash, smog and toxic emissions, all of which have been proposed since the start of 2010. EPA has already run the numbers on those new rules, but a cumulative analysis could better capture their impact, Matheson said.

"Maybe we ought to take a look at how these things work when you put them all together," he said. "We're going to harmonize the process, and I think that really is the goal. The goal is not necessarily to delay things."

Most of the Democrats on the committee described the bill as an effort to make EPA look bad and slow down its work. Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) said he is sympathetic to the situation that businesses are facing and could see himself supporting the bill, but he said the study should also calculate the health benefits that the rules would provide.

The proposal got unanimous support from Republicans, who have backed efforts to undo rules that would raise electricity costs. But while the climate rules have elicited the fiercest reaction on Capitol Hill, Republicans are not done yet, Environment and Economy Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-Ill.) said.

Shimkus and his colleagues may go after an EPA proposal that would make some power plants upgrade their cooling water systems to kill fewer fish, he said. The lawmakers could also target rules that are on the schedule but have not yet been proposed, such as a planned update to the limits on the acceptable amount of dust and soot in the air.

"They're as crazy as the carbon dioxide regulations," Shimkus said.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Federal appeals court rejects challenge to sulfur dioxide standard

We'll take whatever victories we can get these days. And here is one:

The DC Circuit Court of appeals today denied a motion by North Dakota (supported by Texas, the utility industry, mining interests, and other industry groups) to stay the 1-hour sulfur dioxide national air standard adopted by EPA last June. Clean Air Watch was among those praising EPA's action at the time.

The states and coal groups objected mainly to EPA statements indicating that it planned to use modeling as well as monitoring to designate areas out of compliance with the standard.

Earthjustice is representing American Lung Association and EDF as intervenors in the case, and filed memoranda opposing the stay motion.

Lung Association briefing today: Congress should not pit public health vs government shut down

Thursday, April 7, 2011


American Lung Association, American Public Health Association- Congress Should Not Pit Public Health versus Government Shut Down

The American Lung Association and the American Public Health Association are organizing an urgent media telebriefing to discuss recent budget negotiations suggesting that the stalemate in Congress is one of choosing either public health or government shutdown.

The American Lung Association and the American Public Health Association and other health organizations have been strongly opposing any attempt by Congress to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) efforts to implement the Clean Air Act. The results of a recent bipartisan survey indicate that those pushing riders are out of touch with the voters, riders that will likely strip away Clean Air Act protections that safeguard Americans and their families from air pollution.

Representatives from these organizations will make brief remarks followed by time for questions from press.

WHO: Paul Billings, Vice President, National Policy and Advocacy for the American Lung Association
Donald Hoppert, Director of Government Relations, American Public Health Association

WHEN: Thursday, April 7, 2011, 1:30PM EDT

CALL-IN NUMBER: 1-866-439-4480 code 9563375#

More information, please contact Mike Townsend, 202.715.3450, Cosa Bullock,, 202.478.6128

Dems charge GOP attack on Clean Air Act is holding up budget

from the Democratic Policy and Communication Center

For Immediate Release
Date: Thursday, April 7, 2011

CONTACT: Jon Summers, (202) 224-2939


Washington, DC—Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today regarding ongoing budget negotiations. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

“We’re now 38 hours away from the deadline. We have fewer than two days to put politics aside, put the American people first and reach an agreement.

“Last night, Speaker Boehner and I met again with the President. We met for more than an hour and a half. The meeting was adequate.

“Then we worked through the night – my staff and the President’s people continue to work together.

“We are very close on the numbers. Our differences are no longer over how much savings to get out of government spending.

“The only thing – the only thing – holding up agreement is that the Republicans are drawing the line on ideology.

“The Republicans are insisting on extraneous restrictions on women’s health in the name of abortion. They want to roll back the Clean Air Act.

“These matters have no place on a budget bill. This is a bill to keep the country running. It is not a family planning bill or an environmental bill.

“The bottom line is this: I can see us sitting down at the negotiating table and coming away with an agreement on numbers.

“But no one can realistically think that we will walk out of a room and suddenly agree to roll back women’s access to health care or protections for the environment. We will not solve in one night a disagreement this country has been having for four decades. That’s not realistic.

“Right now, we have to be realistic. We cannot be distracted by ideology.

“Speaking of distractions, the House is going to pass a short-term stopgap today. As I said here last night, that is a non-starter in the Senate.

“It’s not just bad policy – it’s fantasy. We all heard the President say that he won’t accept anything short of a full solution.

“The President is right. We can’t keep funding the country with one stopgap after another. The United States of America shouldn’t have to live paycheck to paycheck.”

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

But would the President veto ALL bills with anti-EPA amendments?

from Politico Morning Energy:

END GAME - Obama's veto threat against the House stand-alone bill also extends to the GOP-led amendment in the Senate, Heather Zichal, the president's top deputy on energy and climate issues, told reporters yesterday. Zichal, however, side-stepped questions about what that would mean for the Democratic alternatives in the Senate, or for a House GOP effort to include a rider in a six-month spending bill that would prohibit EPA funding of climate policy.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

White House finally uses the "v" word (VETO!) re Upton dirty-air bill

The key part:

If the President is presented with this legislation, which would seriously roll back the CAA authority, harm Americans’ health by taking away our ability to decrease carbon pollution, and undercut fuel efficiency standards that will save Americans money at the pump while decreasing our dependence on oil, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

Monday, April 04, 2011

155 House members (enough to sustain a Presidential veto) support Clean Air Act

With Congress expected this week to take up the Republican-led assault on the Clean Air Act, 155 members of Congress have written a letter supporting the Clean Air Act. See below

I believe this letter is designed to do several things:

Send a strong signal to the President that Congress has his back if he vetoes anti-clean air legislation. (The 155 would be more than enough to support a Presidential veto.) Obviously, this is an important signal as Republican budget negotiators seek to block EPA authority through the spending legislation being negotiated in secret.) Perhaps this will persuade the anti-EPA House Republicans to stand down. It may give the President leverage on the budget negotiations. And put a little lead in the proverbial presidential pencil.

Set the stage for the expected vote this week on the so-called Upton legislation which would eliminate EPA authority to set climate-related rules. You will note the letter specifically references the greenhouse gas issue.

Here is a link to the letter

And here is the list:

The following 155 Members of Congress signed the April 4, 2011 Waxman-Dingell-Rush letter to Speaker Boehner regarding the Clean Air Act.
Ackerman Doggett Lipinski Ruppersberger
Andrews Edwards Lofgren Rush
Baldwin Ellison Lowey Ryan, T.
Bass, K. Engel Lujan Sablan
Becerra Eshoo Lynch Sanchez, Linda
Berkley Farr Maloney Sanchez, Loretta
Berman Fattah Markey Sarbanes
Blumenauer Filner Matsui Schakowsky
Brady Frank McCarthy Schiff
Braley Fudge McCollum Schwartz
Brown Garamendi McDermott Scott, B.
Capps Green, A. McGovern Serrano
Capuano Grijalva McNerney Sherman
Carnahan Gutierrez Meeks Sires
Carney Hanabusa Michaud Slaughter
Carson Hastings Miller, B. Smith, Adam
Castor Heinrich Miller, G. Speier
Christensen Higgins Moore Stark
Chu Himes Moran Sutton
Cicilline Hinchey Murphy, C. Thompson, B.
Clarke, H. Hinojosa Nadler Thompson, M.
Clarke, Y. Hirono Napolitano Tierney
Clay Holt Neal Tonko
Cleaver Honda Norton Towns
Cohen Inslee Olver Tsongas
Connolly Israel Pallone Van Hollen
Conyers Jackson Pascrell Velazquez
Cooper Jackson-Lee Pastor Visclosky
Courtney Johnson, E.B. Payne Wasserman Schultz
Crowley Johnson, H. Perlmutter Waters
Cummings Keating Peters Watt
Davis, D. Kildee Pingree Waxman
Davis, S. Kucinich Polis Weiner
DeFazio Langevin Price, D. Welch
DeGette Larsen Quigley Wilson
DeLauro Larson Rangel Woolsey
Deutch Lee, B. Richardson Wu
Dicks Levin Rothman Yarmuth
Dingell Lewis Roybal-Allard

UAW to Congress: vote no on bill to gut EPA climate authority

BOB KING, President DENNIS WILLIAMS, Secretary-Treasurer


April 4, 2011

1757 N STREET, N.W.


TELEPHONE: (202) 828-8500
FAX (202) 293-3457

Dear Representative:

The House is expected to vote this week on H.R. 910, the so-called Energy Tax Prevention Act. This bill would strip the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of its authority to regulate greenhouse gases that cause climate change and endanger the health and welfare of all Americans. The UAW strongly urges you to vote against H.R. 910.

If enacted, the legislation would:

. Overturn the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision, in Massachusetts v EPA, holding that greenhouse gases (GHGs) constitute “air pollution” within the meaning of the Clean Air Act and that EPA has the duty to regulate it if the agency finds that GHG emissions endanger health and welfare;

. Render null and void EPA’s subsequent endangerment finding that GHG
emissions contribute to climate change and are a danger to human health and welfare;

. Prohibit EPA from regulating GHG emissions, including barring EPA from
continuing its ongoing collaboration with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) on the model year 2017-25 light duty vehicles standard;

* Cause confusion and almost certainly litigation over the question whether the EPA-NHTSA model year 2012-2016 light duty vehicles standard remains enforceable after the removal of the legal underpinning for EPA’s regulation of GHGs.

The automotive industry, the UAW, and the environmental community worked together with EPA, NHTSA, and the state of California to achieve the historic One National Program that sets standards for fuel efficiency and GHG emissions of light duty vehicles manufactured for model years 2012-2016. When announced, this national program was applauded by all participants. We view this federal regulation as a “win-win,” providing
certainty to the auto industry, while leading to significant oil savings and a cleaner, healthier environment. Moreover, this regulation, in combination with federal policies to

support domestic manufacturing of advanced technology vehicles and their key components, is leading to the creation of tens of thousands of new jobs in the auto sector.

We do not wish to see these accomplishments jeopardized.

The UAW represents one million active and retired members, many of them concentrated in the auto sector. UAW members are also citizens who are deeply affected by the environment in which they live and raise their families. They are concerned about the effects of human-induced climate change for themselves and for future generations. The benefits to human health and welfare flowing from the regulation of GHGs under the
Clean Air Act are substantial, and have positive economic effects.

For these reasons, the UAW supports the continued regulation of tailpipe emissions by EPA under the CAA and strongly urges you to vote against H.R. 910.


Barbara Somson

Legislative Director

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Obama on thin green ice

From Politico

Obama's on thin green ice

By: Darren Samuelsohn

April 1, 2011 06:24 PM EDT

President Barack Obama's relationship with environmentalists sits on thin ice after a major league meltdown over whether he will really defend their biggest demand: EPA climate change rules.

Tensions have crossed into the danger zone between the two camps after a year of cross-ups, including the failure to get a cap-and-trade bill through the Senate and Obama’s embrace of what historically have been green no-no’s like oil drilling and nuclear power.

Angst grew this week after Obama failed to use a major energy policy speech at Georgetown University to explicitly back the EPA's global warming agenda. Then, in what might have begun as a misunderstanding over acronyms, the AP reported that the president was leaning on House Democrats to accept a GOP-authored budget rider that would thwart EPA's greenhouse gas regulations.

The White House furiously denied the story, but the fate of the budget debate over the next eight days could govern the relationship between the administration and environmental community through the 2012 election.
"It's clear the president is running for reelection and that at this point, environmental protection is not on his top list of priorities," said Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch.

“I think everyone in the environmental conservation community, if they’re honest, is frustrated,” said Rodger Schlickeisen, president of the Defenders of Wildlife.

“If they hesitate to say so, it’s because we’re grateful it’s so much better than the last administration and it’s so much better than something else that could occur,” he added. “But I think anybody in the environmental conservation community would be dishonest if we didn’t hope for and expect more than we’ve seen. And that’s pretty much across the board.”
Obama officials insist they've been doing the environmentalists right, starting with a record federal investment of tens of billions of dollars for clean energy technologies...

In response to the GOP gains in Congress, greens overhauled their own budget and lobbying strategy to make defending the pending EPA rules their top priority. Those climate rules are under attack from riders in the House’s spending bill passed in February, a stand-alone bill on the House floor and various Senate amendments to small-business legislation.

The House and Senate votes are expected next week, and the federal government runs out of money on April 8, so things are coming to a head.
Environmentalists have heard Obama officials say he'd veto any bill that on its own restricts EPA's authority. They say they haven’t gotten a public statement from the president on what he would do if the language was folded into a larger, must-pass item, like the six-month appropriations measure being negotiated on Capitol Hill.

Hence their angst after the AP story appeared Wednesday, making it appear that a cave-in on EPA was in the works.

The greens burned up the phone lines to their administration contacts demanding answers, and Senate Democratic leaders fired off statements vowing to defend EPA. The White House tried desperately to put out the fire, insisting the story was incorrect and ultimately issued a statement pledging to oppose environmental riders — but did not issue a specific veto threat...

Even though the stopgap spending bill is temporary, greens cite the never-die nature of former President George W. Bush's tax cuts and restrictions during the 1990s over developing new fuel-economy standards as the reason they fear more trouble down the road.

"We're all aware anything that's given away now could be pretty close to a permanent giveaway, however it's couched," said O’Donnell, of Clean Air Watch. "The problem I see is that if you keep making concessions, it doesn't seem to satisfy the opponents. It merely whets the appetite for more blood."

With the current budget showdown, Obama isn't just being asked to back the EPA climate regulations. Riders dealing with toxic air pollution, mountaintop mining, endangered species protections, global warming program funding and the Chesapeake Bay area also in the mix.

History is a factor as well. Last year, Obama didn't give the push for cap-and-trade legislation environmentalists had banked on, as the White House seemingly prioritized other issues like health care. Now, greens are competing for oxygen with groups concerned about other liberal causes, like Planned Parenthood and NPR.

Also hurting efforts is last month’s departure of Carol Browner — a former EPA chief and trusted go-to person for greens — as the White House energy and climate adviser. Heather Zichal, Browner’s longtime deputy, now has the portfolio from inside the Domestic Policy Council.

"It's a little different than having a separate power base," O'Donnell said. "In the world of bureaucracy, it's a downgrade."

Alas, the greens don't have many other places to go. House Democrats are back in the minority wilderness, and some Senate Democrats are searching for ways to kneecap EPA’s climate policy, too.

Environmentalists don't need to be reminded that they battled George W. Bush for eight years running. But even as they notch victories under Obama on mercury limits for power plants, EPA enforcement actions and renewable energy budgets — items they fought for during the last administration that also equal cuts in greenhouse gas emissions — several said they are not satisfied to be thrown under the bus on an EPA climate change agenda that they successfully fought all the way to the Supreme Court.

"That's pretty lame," said Matt Pawa, a Boston-based attorney behind a major global warming lawsuit against power companies. "It's like saying, 'We'll give you jobs but we won't give you the right to vote.' It's a backdoor way of trying to do something that demands overriding urgency, front-door urgency, action now, action that's been promised."
Just days before Obama's party got hammered in last November's midterms, the president told Rolling Stone magazine that it would be "just irresponsible" for his base to sit out the election, saying it would hamper progress on issues like climate change. As Al Gore remembers from the 2000 election, however, greens could certainly make a Democrat’s life more difficult if they sit on the sidelines.

...Browner told POLITICO on Thursday that she's not concerned about where the White House falls on her former portfolio.

"I think the president and the administration have a very strong record of supporting strong energy policies, strong environmental policies," she said. "And I don't think anything is going to change in that regard."