Posts tagged ‘Climate Bill’

Oil spill seen as energy opportunity for Obama

Some environmentalists and liberal lawmakers believe the BP oil spill has handed President Obama a significant political opportunity to renew his stalled energy and climate bill, and are urging him to push for sweeping legislation to move the country away from reliance on oil and other fossil fuels.

An oil boom stretches across an opening in Lake Eloie near Shell Beach, La.

“He needs a response which is as big as the spill is,” said Wesley Warren, program director for the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington.

The climate bill that White House officials have been negotiating called for limited greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, transportation fuels and eventually factories. It included large incentives for drilling offshore, nuclear power plant construction and so-called “clean-coal” technology. It also would have required set levels of renewable electricity use nationwide. The bill included several sweeteners to minimize the cost for industry.

But that bill has bogged down in the Senate. And while White House officials continue to call for an energy bill this year, Obama has not publicly linked the call to the gulf spill.

Many environmentalists believe it will now be politically easier now to strengthen the clean-energy provisions of the bill and jettison industry breaks. But many longtime energy analysts say Obama’s options are limited for reducing the nation’s reliance on oil.

“In the near term — near term being 20 years — there is no meaningful alternative to using oil in the transportation sector” on a wide scale, said Charles Ebinger, director of the energy security initiative at the Brookings Institution.

Still, the nation’s reliance on gasoline means choosing between imported oil or increased domestic production — and there, the gulf spill may have an impact.

All signs from Capitol Hill suggest that Obama’s expanded drilling plans will find little support in light of the BP leak.

Environmental groups want the administration to push for enhanced oil recovery on land, especially if gasoline prices spike again and public pressure mounts for more domestic production.

Some drilling advocates are pushing the administration to keep its response to the spill narrowly focused.

“Getting to the bottom of this, considering adding safeguards, things that could prevent this spill from happening again and things getting out of hand” — those should be Obama’s focus, said Ben Lieberman, an energy expert at the free-market Heritage Foundation.

Many economists say Obama’s best chance to reframe the energy debate — and dramatically cut oil use — could also be the least popular—a large gasoline tax on gasoline, with the proceeds dedicated to alternative fuel research, reducing the federal budget deficit, or even refunded to consumers.

White House officials pushed back against a modest proposed fee on gasoline in negotiations over a Senate climate bill.

In an interview Tuesday, one of Obama’s top energy advisors, Carol Browner, said “There’s no doubt that portions of the debate are going to change” because of the gulf spill.

She added: “We want to evaluate, at the end of the day, are we doing what we can to break our dependence on foreign oil… are we putting a cap on dangerous greenhouse-gas pollution? There’s more than one way to get it done.”

If Obama can’t sell an energy transformation after this spill, Ebinger said, “He will miss a unique opportunity to point out to the people, ‘This is a situation we got ourselves into… let’s not be sitting here five to 10 years from now and be saying, we didn’t do anything to address it.'”

For more click HERE

May 5, 2010 at 10:14 AM Leave a comment

CEOs seek firm signal on climate change policy

The chief executives of some of the biggest companies in the power, raw materials and oil businesses also said they broadly support a carbon cap-and-trade program.

Cap-and-trade was the centerpiece of a climate bill passed by the House of Representatives last year, but senators are not expected to back such a plan, which would limit greenhouse gas emissions and let companies trade permits to emit carbon.

“We are a very keen proponent of market-based energy legislation,” Royal Dutch Shell Plc Chief Executive Peter Voser said at a Wall Street Journal conference in Santa Barbara, California.

He said the industry needs “certainty on the carbon price, certainty on legislation.”

“I am still very hopeful we’ll get something passed,” Voser said. “I am skeptical (about) this year.”

The head of the largest U.S. producer of power from burning coal, American Electric Power Co Inc, also said a climate bill was unlikely this year.

But AEP CEO Michael Morris told the conference that a climate policy was needed to support investment in technologies that can reduce the environmental impact of burning coal, such as carbon capture and storage.

“We need this done, America needs to lead the world,” Morris said.

A climate bill that would help reduce U.S. emissions, the highest in the developed world, has stalled in the Senate due to opposition from lawmakers representing coal and oil states. Since Democrats lost their Senate supermajority after an election in Massachusetts, its prospects have worsened.

Tom Albanese, chief executive of mining conglomerate Rio Tinto, said his company typically does long-term planning for the mines, as much as 30 years ahead.

“For us to have some assurance that the market’s going to be there, we need to begin to create some carbon pricing signals sooner rather than later,” he said.

Such pricing would allow companies to redirect spending and provide less investment uncertainty, he added.

“Overall, on balance, I would say cap-and-trade would be our preferred view,” Albanese said.

Lewis Hay, chief executive of power utility FPL Group Inc, said U.S. utilities need to know what climate-change legislation would look like before they can invest more in developing nuclear and renewable power sources.

A lack of U.S. policy and the uncertainty surrounding it “puts a lot of investment dollars on the sidelines,” Hay said, adding that the economics surrounding it need to be clear.

“Are we going to have a price on carbon, and if so, what’s it going to be?,” he wondered.

Another system now being debated is a cap-and-dividend, under which similarly strict limits would be placed on carbon emissions, but instead of focusing on smokestacks, it would aim the cap at upstream operations, such as coal and oil companies and importers.

The “dividend” would be in the form of monthly checks to consumers to help ease the cost of higher energy prices and without the complicated trading of cap-and-trade.

In the absence of a climate bill, President Barack Obama has pushed the Environmental Protection Agency to begin regulating gases blamed for warming the planet.

Many companies oppose EPA regulation of greenhouse gases, and some hope to block it.

U.S. coal producer Peabody Energy Corp, which is suing the EPA, said incentives were needed to accelerate technology, not “draconian” regulations.

“We believe in a technology pull and not a command-and-control regulatory push in order to make changes to the energy infrastructure,” CEO Gregory Boyce said.

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March 5, 2010 at 2:53 PM Leave a comment

What would emissions cuts mean to you? Obama, Republicans at odds on costs: MIT expert sees ‘gradual evolution’

The White House will commit the U.S. to a goal of cutting carbon dioxide emissions in 2010 to about 17 percent below 2005 levels at a U.N.-sponsored climate change summit in Copenhagen early next month. That’s about 12.5 percent below 2008 levels, according to the Department of Energy. He also set a goal of cutting emissions by 83 percent by 2050, which is what European nations want.

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November 30, 2009 at 2:28 PM Leave a comment

65 World leaders to join climate talks

Sixty-five world leaders have confirmed they will attend a U.N. conference in Copenhagen in December that will try to clinch a new global climate deal, and many more are considering, Danish officials said on Sunday.

Facing splits in the climate talks, Denmark 10 days ago formally invited the heads of state and government of 191 U.N. member states to come for the final two days of the December 7-18 conference to push for a deal at the meeting, originally meant for environment ministers.

Danish officials declined to provide a full list of those who had agreed to come to the Copenhagen conference, but noted some leaders, such as those from Britain, Germany, France, Spain, Australia, Japan, Indonesia and Brazil, had announced their intention to attend.

The United Nations said this month about 40 leaders had indicated plans to attend, mostly from developing nations as well as from Germany and Britain, even before the official invitation.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has said he would come. And U.S. President Barack Obama has said he would attend if it could give impetus to a deal.

Marathon talks since 2007 have failed to overcome differences between developed and developing nations on issues such as the depth of greenhouse gas cuts by industrialized countries by 2020 or extra funds to help poor nations.

Article continues: http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE5AL0HD20091122

November 23, 2009 at 1:22 PM Leave a comment

Climate change bill is in trouble-Political tactics tie up the Senate version, and efforts to salvage it may be too little too late.

If you think the partisan divide over healthcare reform is ugly, take a look at the animus in the Senate as debate continues on a key climate change bill. So wide is the gulf that long-held Senate traditions on decorum are breaking down. And as Washington fiddles, the Earth burns.

The Senate version of a House bill aimed at capping greenhouse gas emissions was stalled last week by Republicans on the Environment and Public Works Committee, who boycotted the discussion, demanding that the Environmental Protection Agency agree to do a more thorough study of the bill’s economic impact. It was an ugly and highly unusual tactic aimed at delaying a bill that has already been thoroughly vetted by the EPA, leaving Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the committee chair, little choice but to resort to extremes herself. She put the bill, S. 1733, up for a vote Thursday without a single Republican present. That angered Republicans but was even more frustrating for Democrats — several wanted to amend the bill, but with no one from the minority party present, no amendments were allowed. The bill passed, 11-1.

Full Story HERE

November 13, 2009 at 2:18 PM Leave a comment

Governments Can and must Deliver Strong Copenhagen Deal

Speaking at a press conference in Barcelona, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer reiterated that Copenhagen must result in a strong international climate change deal.

The last negotiating session before the historic UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December concluded last Friday in Barcelona, Spain, with little optimism that a new climate deal will be concluded this year.

“Copenhagen can and must be the turning point in the international fight against climate change – nothing has changed my confidence in that,” he said. “A powerful combination of commitment and compromise can and must make this happen,” he added.

Specifically, progress on adaptation, technology cooperation, reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries and mechanisms to disburse funds for developing countries was made in Barcelona.

“It is essential that practical action is swiftly implemented after Copenhagen to assist developing countries in their fight against climate change,” the UN’s top climate change official said.

However, little progress was made on the two key issues of mid-term emission reduction targets of developed countries and finance that would allow developing countries to limit their emissions growth and adapt to the inevitable effects of climate change.

“Without these two pieces of the puzzle in place, we will not have a deal in Copenhagen,” Yvo de Boer said. “So leadership at the highest level is required to unlock the pieces,” he added.

At a summit in New York earlier this year, heads of state and government pledged to clinch a deal in Copenhagen that provides clarity on: ambitious emission reduction targets of industrialised countries; nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing countries with the necessary support; significantly scaled-up financial and technological resources and an equitable governance structure for these resources.

According to Yvo de Boer, developed countries would need to provide fast-track funding on the order of at least 10 billion USD to enable developing countries to immediately develop low emission growth and adaptation strategies and to build internal capacity.

At the same time, developed countries will need to indicate how they intend to raise predictable and sustainable long-term financing and what there longer-term commitments will be.

“Negotiators must deliver a final text at Copenhagen which presents a strong, functioning architecture to kick start rapid action in the developing world,” said Yvo de Boer. “And between now and Copenhagen, governments must deliver the clarity required to help the negotiators complete their work,” he added.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an aggregate emission reduction by industrialised countries of between minus 25% and 40% over 1990 levels would be required by 2020 in order to stave off the worst effects of climate change, with global emissions falling by at least 50% by 2050.

Even under this scenario, there would be an only a 50% chance of avoiding the most catastrophic consequences.

November 10, 2009 at 10:56 AM Leave a comment

Can Senate trio salvage a climate bill?

A Senate Democrat, Republican and independent on Wednesday announced a rescue effort for troubled climate legislation and quickly got some backing from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as well as at least one environmental group.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., together with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., met with Obama administration officials and later announced that they would work to patch together a bill that could pass the Senate.

Can these three revive the Climate Bill?

An earlier bill introduced by Kerry and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., that would impose mandatory limits on heat-trapping gases for the first time is stalled in committee because of a Republican boycott.

The senators said that they were not usurping that effort, but would take the best pieces of the Kerry-Boxer bill and try to broaden support by adding more incentives for nuclear power and offshore drilling. They also said they had the blessing of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

“Our effort is to try to reach out; to broaden the base of support” for a bill, said Kerry.

More for nuclear, offshore drilling
Besides looking at creating a market for companies to trade an ever-decreasing number of carbon pollution permits, the senators are working with the White House on ways to expand the nuclear power industry through government incentives.

For full story click HERE

November 6, 2009 at 11:03 AM Leave a comment

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