WASHINGTON—Environmental organizations will join the EPA in carefully reviewing—and perhaps challenging—a controversial building permit that Kansas authorities granted Thursday to build a 895 megawatt coal-fired power plant in the southwestern part of the state.
Approval of the permit to Sunflower Electric Power Corp. comes just a few weeks before the Environmental Protection Agency’s “tailoring rule” takes effect Jan. 2. That rule is designed to employ the Clean Air Act to control heat-trapping gases from large emitters that are new or undergo significant modifications.
Issuing the permit before that deadline means the new plant can avoid that EPA rule designed to rein in greenhouse gases.
WASHINGTON—Nebraska’s senior senator might now be convinced that the U.S. State Department is adhering to appropriate protocol before deciding on a thumbs up or down for a multi-billion dollar, controversial Canada-to-Texas tar sands oil pipeline.
In a statement issued Friday, Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson said a Dec. 9 letter from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton assured him that "the department won't consider the pipeline permit application until the environmental study is done and the department has taken into account all state and federal views about the proposal."
But the environmental community is far less confident. Green organizations are calling for the Secretary of State to recuse herself from the decision—expected in 2011. Public statements she made in California in October indicate Clinton was already inclined to approve TransCanada's Keystone XL project, and the groups also now claim there's a potential conflict of interest involving a TransCanada lobbyist who previously worked for her presidential campaign.
WASHINGTON—The grassroots side of Charles Komanoff wasn’t exactly dancing in the streets of New York City Nov. 2 when Republicans drop-kicked Democrats from their majority perch in the House of Representatives.
But the number-crunching, energy-policy-geek part of him sniffs an unusual opportunity for his beloved carbon tax to gain traction on Capitol Hill.
“Maybe this is totally wishful thinking, but one possible halcyon effect of Tea Party ascendancy might provide greater latitude for Congress and its ability to tolerate real mavericks instead of phony mavericks,” the 63-year-old founder of the Carbon Tax Center told SolveClimate News in an interview.
Komanoff’s “Exhibit A” is Democratic Rep. John Larson of Connecticut.
The congressman, elected to a seventh term, has written one of several carbon tax bills elbowed aside by what emerged as the bully of the Hill—a failed cap-and-trade measure. When the 112th Congress convenes in January, Larson has vowed to reintroduce “America’s Energy Security Trust Fund,” a proposal he rolled out in 2009.
WASHINGTON—If President Obama’s final tax package doesn’t include grants for renewable energy projects, the industry expects hundreds or perhaps thousands of solar and wind workers to add to already-lengthy unemployment lines.
What’s known as the renewable energy convertible tax credit program—or the Treasury grant program—is set to expire by year’s end. And a plan submitted by Senate Finance Committee Max Baucus, D-Mont., to extend the program for a year died over the weekend.
Now leaders from all renewable energy fields are hoping legislators can reach some sort of compromise to keep jobs and projects from being jeopardized. Ideally, they are seeking a two-year extension of the grant program.
“This is not a program that has just benefited blue states,” Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, told reporters in a conference call Wednesday. “It’s a program that has benefited all states. They need to put their partisan bickering aside … to ensure that these industries continue to grow.”
WASHINGTON—It is tempting to label six-term Rep. Bob Inglis as an equal opportunity annoyer.
But in the nuanced halls of Congress, that would be far too simplistic.
The outgoing South Carolinian is a burr in the GOP’s rigid saddle because he discomfits dominant House Republican groupthink: he admits he trusts the science that says human activities are causing the planet to warm.
He simultaneously perplexes the Democratic co-authors of the American Clean Energy and Security Act by rejecting their cap-and-trade effort at reining in heat-trapping gas emissions.
“I can understand why Ed Markey would be frustrated by somebody like me,” the Republican said about the Democratic Massachusetts representative in an interview with SolveClimate News. After all, “cap and trade is a market-based, conservative concept.”
“But over the years, I’ve committed various heresies against Republicans. The one that’s most enduring is saying that climate change is real and let’s do something about it.”
WASHINGTON— It’s a rare day when somebody pleads with Congress not to take action.
But that’s exactly the stand Kate McMahon, biofuels campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth, is proposing. By not lifting a finger to renew a corn ethanol tax credit of 45 cents per gallon—which will expire at the end of this month if federal legislators choose to let it—she estimates taxpayers will reap an annual savings of roughly $6 billion.
And she’s not alone.
Friends of the Earth is part of an unconventional and diverse amalgam of 59 organizations from the faith, progressive, environmental, agricultural, conservative, humanitarian and public interest sectors that made a case against the subsidies in a late November letter to House and Senate leaders.
“At a time of spiraling deficits, we do not believe Congress should continue subsidizing gasoline refiners for something that they are already required to do by the Renewable Fuels Standard,” they wrote. “Experts like the Congressional Budget Office and the Government Accountability Office have concluded that the subsidy is no longer necessary, and leading economists agree that ending it would have little impact on ethanol production, prices or jobs.”
WASHINGTON—It was his global warming committee leadership swan song, and Rep. Ed Markey had counted on going out with a bang.
Through no fault of his own, however, the event he called “Not Going Away: America’s Energy Security, Jobs and Climate Challenges” turned into somewhat of a whimper.
The Massachusetts Democrat was forced to do some last-minute recalibrating Wednesday when stormy weather and a cancellation diluted the planned one-two star-power punch of the final hearing of his Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.
With so many countries being forced to adjust to the ravages of climate change, perhaps it’s fitting that the chairman of such a committee had to practice his own brand of adaptation.
WASHINGTON—Convincing the natural gas industry that a chemical disclosure protocol should be mandatory has proven to be much more formidable than blasting apart shale rock where the coveted hydrocarbons lurk underground.
And conservationists fear that the disclosure debate is slowing progress on resolving environmental impacts associated with natural gas drilling and its sister act of “fracking”—which is geological slang for hydraulic fracturing.
Those disparities became grist for a polite but enlivened exchange among three topic experts at the conservative Heritage Foundation. It was one of two fracking forums that unfolded in the nation’s capital Tuesday afternoon.
“The industry needs to deal with those issues rather than glibly keep saying they are America’s clean fuel source,” senior policy adviser Scott Anderson of the Environmental Defense Fund told those gathered for “The Promise and Perils of Hydraulic Fracturing: Best Answers to the Hardest Questions.”
“Nothing good is going to happen in the natural gas industry … until this disclosure issue is behind them,” Anderson continued. “It’s not as if it looks like the industry is hiding something. They are hiding something.”
WASHINGTON—Americans for Prosperity might promote its “No Climate Tax” pledge signed by 530-plus local, state and national elected officials as merely a badge of fiscal responsibility.
But their critics view the carefully worded pledge as a power grab and yet another hurdle for broad action on climate and energy legislation when the 112th Congress convenes in January.
There are already many.
For one, with the exception of New Hampshire’s representative-to-be Charlie Bass, Republican freshmen legislators joining the House and Senate doubt the scientific veracity of global warming. Two, one survey shows more than half of all of the Republicans in the GOP caucus next year have questioned whether human activities are contributing to climate change.
WASHINGTON—Barely a week ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid assured West Virginia governor-cum-senator Joe Manchin that any attempt to control greenhouse gases via a cap-and-trade system is dead and six feet under.
Grassroots and left-leaning environmental organizations, however, claim the Nevada Democrat showed up nearly a year late to the funeral of the much-maligned, market-based measure. A majority of them aren’t mourning the evident demise of poor ol’ cap and trade.
For the most part, they abhorred the book-length version of legislation that Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman and Ed Markey of Massachusetts cobbled together and the House eventually passed as the American Clean Energy and Security Act in June 2009. And they cringed at the versions of its evil twin that reared themselves afterward in the Senate.
While they united against compromised legislation, these more progressive green advocates aren’t unified on a single way forward on how to curb heat-trapping emissions—and if SolveClimate News's interviews of these groups is any indication, consensus will be hard to come by.