Posts tagged ‘clean air act’

Senator Graham calls cap-and-trade plan dead

Lindsey Graham, one of three senators working against daunting odds to produce a compromise climate bill, has recently turned against imposing the kind of cap-and-trade system used in Europe, which involves companies buying and selling pollution permits.

Graham did not specify whether another mechanism or some sort of cap-and-trade would be used more narrowly, such as to control emissions in the power utility sector. “The cap-and-trade bills in the House and Senate are dead. The concept of cap-and-trade is going to be replaced,” he said.

Cap-and-trade would involve cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions between 2012 and 2050 by establishing a regulated financial market where a wide range of companies would buy and trade a shrinking number of permits to pollute, which critics say would raise costs for consumers and companies.

International climate change negotiations hinge in part on the ability of the United States, the largest carbon polluter in the developed world, enacting a pollution-control law.

Meanwhile, some lawmakers were pressing ahead with plans to block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon emissions if Congress fails to pass a bill.

Senator John Rockefeller told reporters he is preparing legislation giving the EPA a two-year timeout on such regulations on stationary sources of pollution.

A permanent prohibition is being offered by Senate Republicans. In the House of Representatives, Republican leader John Boehner and 85 of his colleagues introduced their version.

Democratic Senator Evan Bayh cautioned that the future of a climate change bill may be closely linked to how Congress gets through a rancorous debate in this election year over healthcare reform.

“Let’s get through healthcare because the world might look a lot different depending on how that’s handled,” Bayh told Reuters when asked about a climate bill.

Both issues are high priorities of President Barack Obama.

The controversial environmental bill pits various regional and energy interests against each other.

A group of 13 Democratic senators from the east and west coasts wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday urging that any climate bill require coal-fired power plants to meet modern pollution standards.

COAL PLANTS

The senators complained that a bill passed by the House “rolled back” Clean Air Act requirements for existing coal plants, many of which are old and high-polluting.

Midwestern states rely heavily on energy from those coal-fired plants and lawmakers fear their constituents will be jolted by higher costs if the plants must be revamped.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said there was still a chance the Senate would pass a climate bill this year with a cap-and-trade program.

“It is not dead,” Chu told Bloomberg TV, referring to the cap-and-trade approach. “We need a comprehensive bill. We would very much want and need it this year.”

Democratic Senator John Kerry told reporters he hoped a compromise climate control bill could be put together this month, although many meetings still must be held. Graham told reporters it will be “weeks” before a bill is ready.

But Senator Joseph Lieberman, an independent working with Graham and Kerry, said a detailed outline of a bill could come within days and that it will have to include a ceiling on greenhouse gas emissions that drops in future years.

Last June, the House narrowly passed a climate change bill with cap-and-trade as its centerpiece and a carbon-reduction target of 17 percent by 2020, from 2005 levels. The initiative stalled in the Senate, despite Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approval of a similar bill.

But Kerry said he was feeling “more confident” that a climate change bill could be presented to the Senate for passage this year. “We’re looking at a new way of coming at this that we think can attract greater support,” he said.

Environmentalists speculated that the bill the senators will produce could take a “sectoral approach” by imposing a new carbon-pricing mechanism on utilities, which account for about 40 percent of the emissions blamed for global warming.

Sources also have said there is talk of a transportation tax. Pollution controls on manufacturers could be put off for a few years to give time for more affordable alternative energy sources to come on line, they have said.

Kerry said it was “not necessarily accurate” that there will be such a sectoral approach.

Asked about taxes being inserted into a climate bill, Lieberman would only say: “Nothing frozen yet, so I have to be evasive about that.”

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March 3, 2010 at 11:17 AM Leave a comment

E.P.A. Plans to Phase in Regulation of Emissions

Facing wide criticism over their recent finding that greenhouse gases endanger the public welfare, top Environmental Protection Agency officials said Monday that any regulation of such gases would be phased in gradually and would not impose expensive new rules on most American businesses.

The E.P.A.’s administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, wrote in a letter to eight coal-state Democrats who have sought a moratorium on regulation that only the biggest sources of greenhouse gases would be subjected to limits before 2013. Smaller ones would not be regulated before 2016, she said.

“I share your goals of ensuring economic recovery at this critical time and of addressing greenhouse gas emissions in sensible ways that are consistent with the call for comprehensive energy and climate legislation,” Ms. Jackson wrote.

The eight Democratic senators, led by John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, said hugely significant decisions about energy, the economy and the environment should be made by elected representatives, not by federal bureaucrats.

The senators, who earlier questioned broad cap-and-trade legislation pushed by the Obama administration, join a number of Republican lawmakers, industry groups and officials from Texas, Alabama and Virginia in challenging the proposed E.P.A. regulations of industrial sources. Senate Republicans are going a step further, seeking to prevent the agency from taking any action to limit greenhouse gases, which are tied to global warming.

Ms. Jackson warned that if the Republicans thwarted the agency’s efforts to address climate change, it would kill the deal negotiated last year to limit carbon pollution from cars and light trucks and would have a chilling effect on the government’s scientific studies of global warming.

“It also would be viewed by many as a vote to move the United States to a position behind that of China on the issue of climate change, and more in line with the position of Saudi Arabia,” Ms. Jackson wrote.

The group led by Mr. Rockefeller asked Ms. Jackson to suspend any E.P.A. regulations of stationary sources — including coal-burning power plants and large industrial facilities — while Congress considers comprehensive energy and climate change legislation. The House passed a major climate and energy bill last summer that would have overridden some of the agency’s regulatory authority. The Senate, however, has not acted on the issue and there is considerable doubt that it will do so this year.

“E.P.A. actions in this area would have enormous implications, and these issues need to be handled carefully and appropriately dealt with by the Congress, not in isolation by a federal environmental agency,” Mr. Rockefeller said.

The Democrats who joined Mr. Rockefeller are Senators Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Mark Begich of Alaska, Carl Levin of Michigan, Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia and Max Baucus of Montana.

Manufacturers, oil companies and business coalitions also filed petitions objecting to the proposed rules.

Environmental advocates said the E.P.A. was justified in declaring carbon dioxide and gases that contribute to global warming to be dangerous pollutants under the Clean Air Act and was moving cautiously to regulate them.

“These answers from Lisa Jackson hopefully will reassure the authors of the letter that the E.P.A. is proceeding in a very measured way and doing what is achievable and affordable to curb global warming pollution and focusing as they should on the biggest sources like power plants and not small businesses,” said David Doniger, climate policy director of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

For Article click HERE

February 24, 2010 at 11:07 AM 1 comment

U.S. sends a parade of promises to Copenhagen

Reporting from Copenhagen – A double-decker white tour boat sailed Wednesday afternoon toward a crescent of giant steel propellers towering above the seawater and spinning in a stiff winter wind.

The boat’s guest of honor, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, rose to laud his hosts and to assure them that his country was taking steps to “get our act together” on offshore wind power.

“We see Denmark as a leader and an example in wind, especially offshore,” Salazar told a cabin filled mostly with European journalists and wind-energy officials. “We know we have a tremendous way to go.”

Denmark draws more than 20% of its electricity from wind, the highest percentage in the world and one envied by U.S. officials eager to boost production of renewable energy.

Salazar is perhaps the Obama administration’s strongest proponent of offshore wind, frequently asserting that the Atlantic coast alone holds enough wind power potential to cover the entire nation’s current electricity demand.

His hastily organized harbor tour helped launch a weeklong charm offensive by the Obama administration at the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen, a push to sell world government and business leaders on the United States’ increased commitment to renewable energy and combating climate change.

In public, at least, there appears to be a long way to go, as evidenced in part by an exchange Wednesday between representatives of the U.S. and China.

The United States’ special climate envoy, Todd Stern, urged China to honor its pledge to reduce its carbon emissions and to include that commitment in an international climate change agreement. China’s chief climate negotiator, Yu Qingtai, not only rejected the idea, he also criticized the U.S. for failing to provide financial aid to developing countries and reduce its own emissions of harmful gases.

Such sentiment toward the U.S. was anticipated. While Salazar was motoring through waters shrouded in gray, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson briefed reporters and activists on the administration’s efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions unilaterally. She touted the administration’s declaration this week that those gases endanger human health and are thus subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.

For More click HERE

December 11, 2009 at 2:59 PM 1 comment

EPA: Greenhouse gases endanger human health

As U.N. climate talks begin in Copenhagen, the Obama administration takes steps to regulate U.S. emissions with or without congressional approval.

The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded greenhouse gases are endangering people’s health and must be regulated, signaling that the Obama administration is prepared to contain global warming without congressional action if necessary.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson scheduled a news conference for later Monday to announce the so-called endangerment finding, officials told The Associated Press, speaking privately because the announcement had not been made.
The finding is timed to boost the administration’s arguments at an international climate conference — beginning this week — that the United States is aggressively taking actions to combat global warming, even though Congress has yet to act on climate legislation.
Under a Supreme Court ruling, the so-called endangerment finding is needed before the EPA can regulate carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases released from power plants, factories and automobiles under the federal Clean Air Act.
The EPA signaled last April that it was inclined to view heat-trapping pollution as a threat to public health and welfare and began to take public comments under a formal rulemaking. The action marked a reversal from the Bush administration, which had declined to aggressively pursue the issue.
Business groups have strongly argued against tackling global warming through the regulatory process of the Clean Air Act. Any such regulations are likely to spawn lawsuits and lengthy legal fights.
For full story click HERE

December 8, 2009 at 10:22 AM Leave a comment


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