In the News
Climate Scientist Sues Paper for Libel on Climategate Coverage
Dave Adam, Guardian, 22 April 2010
Buying Carbon Offsets May Ease Eco-Guilt, But Not Global Warming
Doug Struck, Christian Science Monitor, 20 April 2010
Fannie Mae Owns Patent on Residential “Cap-and-Trade”
Barbara Hollingsworth, Washington Examiner, 20 April 2010
News You Can Use
Tea Partiers Oppose Cap-and-Trade
More than 365,000 respondents voted online to determine the top three planks of the tea-party movement’s political platform. The second most popular of the 21 issues that were up for a vote: “Reject cap and trade: Stop costly new regulations that would increase unemployment, raise consumer prices, and weaken the nation’s global competitiveness with virtually no impact on global temperatures.”
Inside the Beltway
Kerry-Graham-Lieberman: Payoffs for Everyone, Taxes for You-Know-Who
It appears that Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) are finally going to release a draft outline of their compromise, middle-of-the-road, some-payoff-for-everyone energy-rationing bill on Monday. Both Kate Sheppard on the Mother Jones web site and Juliet Eilperin on the Washington Post web site report that Senator Kerry shared details of the bill in a Thursday conference call held by the We Can Lead coalition of business leaders who hope to make a buck from energy rationing.
Sheppard and Eilperin both report that the draft bill will pre-empt the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions using the Clean Air Act and also pre-empt States from setting lower emissions targets. Instead of a gas tax or a “linked fee,” the draft will require oil companies to buy ration coupons to cover the emissions of their products. Call it whatever you want, it’s still a tax.
It appears that the cap-and-trade scheme for electric utilities is still in the draft, but according to both blogs, it now includes a price collar setting a floor and a ceiling on the cost of ration coupons. In addition, Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman have adopted the cap-and-dividend idea from the energy-rationing bill introduced by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Susan Collins (R-Me.), S. 2877. Thus some of the additional costs of electricity will be rebated to consumers. I’m not sure how this squares with a story by Darren Samuelsohn in Environment and Energy Daily (and reprinted on the New York Times’s web site here) earlier in the week that the draft would give more free ration coupons to the electric utilities. Perhaps the free coupons will be distributed in the early years of the scheme and consumers will get their rebates in the later years.
Kerry claimed on the conference call that three major oil companies would support the bill in addition to the Edison Electric Institute. The three most likely are Shell, BP, and Conoco Phillips. He also said that they were still working on provisions to allow more offshore oil production.
Among the goodies will be an exemption for agriculture from emissions limits, loan guarantees for twelve new nuclear plants, $10 billion for research and development of carbon capture and storage for coal-fired power plants, “financial incentives” for natural gas and electric vehicles, and a four-year exemption for manufacturing industries. The bill will also include the anti-energy provisions marked up by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last year. These include a renewable electricity requirement and new building energy efficiency standards.
As I mentioned last week, the three Senators do not plan to introduce a bill with actual legislative language, but instead will turn their draft over to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Reid will try to put together a package that he can bring to the floor and get sixty votes.
Voinovich Enters the Pre-Emption Fight
Senator George Voinovich (R-Ohio) this week circulated a proposal to remove all authority from the executive branch and the States to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under any existing legal authority. This would include the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Clean Water Act, as well as the Clean Air Act. As Robin Bravender reported in Climate Wire (which was reprinted by the New York Times here), the proposal would also end all public nuisance lawsuits.
Voinovich could offer it as an amendment to the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman energy-rationing bill or to some other bill on the Senate floor. If enacted, it would mean that it would be up to Congress (the people’s representatives) to decide whether and how to deal with global warming.
At the same time, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) continues to try to figure out how to get 51 votes for her resolution of disapproval of the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. One major obstacle remains Senator John Rockefeller’s (D-WV) bill to delay EPA regulations for two years, which is meant to give some of his fellow Democrats an alternative to voting for Murkowski. One solution might be to offer Rockefeller’s bill, S. 3072, as an amendment to some bill on the Senate floor. If it fails, then these Senators will not have an excuse for voting against Murkowski’s resolution. If it passes, then Senators who voted for it will have to explain why they are going to flip and vote no on Murkowski’s resolution.
Across the States
Major climate legislation was shelved in Wisconsin on Earth Day after both the Assembly and the Senate refused to vote on the measure before the legislative calendar ended. The bill would have mandated that 25% of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2025, and it failed because Wisconsin lawmakers feared the political fallout of adding expensive renewable energy to the state’s electricity portfolio-thereby increasing utility bills.
In late 2008, the California Air Resources Board was excoriated by a peer-review panel of economists for publishing a politicized economic analysis that exaggerated the benefits and minimized the costs of AB 32, California’s global warming law. As a result, CARB commissioned a new analysis by a supposedly non-partisan team of economists led by Stanford Professor Larry Goulder. The report was released a month ago, and it largely echoed CARB’s original conclusion that AB 32 will create jobs and is good for the economy. CARB claims that the new report vindicates its old report, but new evidence suggests otherwise. ClimateWire this week reported that Larry Goulder is on the board of directors of a non-profit that is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a political campaign to defeat a ballot initiative that would suspend AB 32. This is a clear conflict of interest, and it demonstrates (again) that CARB manipulates the evidence to support its political agenda.
Around the World
The first United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations since the Copenhagen Climate Conference took place in Bonn, Germany, from April 9th to April 11th. Negotiators spent most of the meeting coming to an agreement on how many more meetings to convene before the 16th Conference of the Parties this September in Cancun, Mexico. After many hours of haggling, they agreed to hold two.
In Washington, D.C. this week, representatives from 17 industrialized countries participated in the Major Economies Meeting, U.S.-led negotiations for a climate treaty that. The meeting served primarily to dampen expectations in Cancun this September for a legally binding successor treaty to the failed Kytoto Protocol. U.S. Climate Envoy Todd Stern told reporters, “We don’t want to let expectations far outstrip what can be done” in Cancun.
The stalled negotiations in Bonn and Washington, D.C. angered the 15,000 participants to the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, which is occurring this week in Cochabamba, Bolivia. According to Reuters, Bolivian President Evo Morales kicked off the Conference by noting that, “We are gathered here because the so-called developed countries didn’t meet their obligation of establishing substantial commitments to cutting greenhouse gas emissions in Copenhagen.” Later, an official from the UN was jeered off the stage.
The Cooler Heads Digest is the weekly e-mail publication of the Cooler Heads Coalition. For the latest news and commentary check out the Coalition’s website, www.globalwarming.org.