Carbon Market Efficiency Board

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 30 Jul 2007 17:14:00 GMT

Last week, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) presented the Containing and Managing Climate Change Costs Efficiently Act (S. 1874), a piece of legislation authored by Joe Lieberman’s former environmental advisor, Timothy Profeta, who now heads the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University.

The proposal would establish the Carbon Market Efficiency Board which would oversee the emissions trading market established by cap-and-trade legislation. The board would operate much like the Federal Reserve Board, providing information on price and low-emission technology investment trends to Congress and the public, and it would adjust the price of emissions permits when a “market correction” is needed. The first measure is to expand companies’ ability to “bank” permits, or borrow permits against future year reductions. The second measure, to be used if high prices are not relieved by the first measure, is to add a slightly larger number of permits to the market. This temporary increase would be compensated for by reducing available permits in a later year, when more options have been developed.

Profeta testified about the proposal in last week’s hearing. His white paper goes into further detail.

The bill is intended to be folded into the Lieberman-Warner package to be presented as a discussion draft at the end of the week.

John Warner (R-Va.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) are cosponsoring the bill, in a bipartisan show of strength by pro-business Senators. [The League of Conservation Voters/Chamber of Commerce scores for the senators are: Warner 14%/100%, Graham 29%/92%, Landrieu 43%/75%, Lincoln 43%/67%. By way of comparison, Lieberman is 71%/44%.]

House passes Farm Bill 2

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 27 Jul 2007 20:56:00 GMT

By 231-191, the House passed the farm bill (HR 2419) today. Highlights:
  • The bill funds the energy title, which funds biofuels research and development, energy efficiency programs and renewable-energy projects, by reversing $6.1 billion over ten years of the offshore drilling royalty payments mistakenly granted to oil and gas companies
  • The bill found additional funding for food stamps by by ending a practice known as “earnings stripping,” which lets foreign-owned companies shift income to a country with lower tax rates, delivering $7.8 billion over 10 years
  • The Senate is expected to start debating its version of the legislation after the August recess. Current programs expire Sept. 30 and it is unlikely Congress will be able to complete action on a new five-year bill by then. Instead, a short-term extension of the law is likely to be necessary.
  • The $5 million per year Community Food Projects program to fight food insecurity by funding projects that promote the self-sufficiency of low-income communities was zeroed out.

EPA Administrator "defers" to the Department of Transportation

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 26 Jul 2007 16:43:00 GMT

At today’s hearing on the California waiver, EPA administrator Stephen Johnson refused to condemn or even comment on the Department of Transportation’s lobbying against the waiver. He also refused to state whether or not the administration is opposed to the request.

In his testimony, he admitted speaking to the Secretary of the Department of Transportation, Mary E. Peters, at the beginning of the comment period, and obfuscated over what they discussed. He admitted that they discussed reaching out to her “constituency”, which when pressed by Sen. Boxer, he understood to mean governors and members “particularly interested” in transportation. He avoided saying what the Secretary’s intentions or views were and whether he recommended the “constituency” should send in comments.

His new excuse for not making a decision on the waiver request is the “voluminous” amount of comments. He was understandably accused of footdragging by the Democrats on the panel.

Cap-and-trade hearing prelude to Senate legislation

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 24 Jul 2007 02:05:00 GMT

Tomorrow’s global warming hearing, led by Joe Lieberman, will be a prelude to the cap-and-trade legislation now being written by his and John Warner’s staffers. This bill will be the default Senate cap-and-trade bill unless matters dramatically change. See CQ Green Sheets for more.

The Hill: Oil industry lobbyists in fits

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 24 Jul 2007 01:28:00 GMT

From The Hill: Lobbyists face energy bill dilemma. In short, oil and gas lobbyists, long in the GOP camp, are struggling to kill Titles 1 and 2 of Nick Rahall’s bill (H.R. 2337), which repeal the massive tax breaks for oil companies in the Republican Energy Policy Act of 2005. Their best friends on the Democratic side are Blue Dogs Charles Melancon of Louisiana and Jim Matheson of Utah. Also in question is whether there will end up being time for a vote on the legislation, with the farm bill (with which agribusiness is happy enough), commerce, justice and science (CJS) appropriations, transportation appropriations, and children’s health insurance also on the docket before the August recess.

By Jim Snyder July 24, 2007 One of the toughest decisions a lobbyist makes is when exactly to lobby against something. Do you try to stop a bill in committee, marshal opposition on the floor, or wait for the relative secrecy of a congressional conference committee to let loose the arrows in your quiver?

It may be easier to stop an offending provision before the Government Printing Office ink is dry. But sometimes it’s better to allow an opponent an early win, especially if one of your opponents is the Speaker of the House, before a final defeat.

Oil and gas lobbyists, playing defense all session, are weighing how hard to push their backers on Capitol Hill to draw a line in the sand on energy legislation.

On the floor, House members this week take up two major spending bills— transportation and commerce, justice, and science (CJS)— as well as a farm bill that, in contrast to the energy bill, has broad support among industry lobbyists. The Senate takes up a higher education reauthorization bill.

Pelosi’s Leadership
But behind the scenes, lobbyists describe a furious effort under way to shape energy legislation in the final stretch before August recess.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last week met with “oil patch” members, often the most conservative elements of her diverse caucus, to try to smooth over intra-party differences that are delaying one of the party’s biggest priorities.

Pelosi urged the members to try to work with Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, to find compromise on his energy bill, one of several measures likely to be linked together on the floor.

Pew Center: Voters Demand Stronger CAFE Standards 2

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 23 Jul 2007 19:31:00 GMT

With a vote on CAFE legislation in the House expected to come next week, the Pew Campaign for Fuel Efficiency today released new bipartisan polling in Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida and Michigan that pulled from more than 30 congressional districts. The surveys found overwhelming voter support for the U.S. House of Representatives to pass CAFE legislation at least as strong as those passed by the U.S. Senate in June. One particular district surveyed was John Dingell’s, Michigan-15.

The polls compared the elements of the Markey-Platts bill (HR 1506) with those of the industry-supported Hill-Terry bill (HR 2927), and found overwhelming, across-the-board support for Markey-Platts across all demographic groups (partisanship, income, type of car, age, etc.). Voters just don’t buy the industry arguments against CAFE standards, believing that cars will continue to be safe and affordable and that the American auto industry and auto workers will be better off as they will be forced to innovate.

As Bill McInturff, the GOP pollster said in the briefing, “There’s really strong Republican support for higher standards, do it quicker, make it binding.” Voters see this as an economic, environmental, national security issue, and would feel better about Congress and their own representative if strong legislation is passed.

Voters in Dingell’s district look like the voters elsewhere.

The pollsters deliberately avoided global warming because they see it as a partisan issue.

Oceanic Carbon Offsets ? 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 20 Jul 2007 11:02:00 GMT

Following up on Wednesday’s global warming committee hearing on carbon offsets, the Washington Post covers the company of one of the witnesses, Planktos CEO Russ George.
A small California company is planning to mix up to 80 tons of iron particles into the Pacific Ocean 350 miles west of the Galapagos islands to see whether it can make a splash in the markets where people seek to offset their greenhouse gas emissions.

Planktos – with 24 employees, a Web site and virtually no revenue – has raised money to send a 115-foot boat called the Weatherbird II on a voyage to stimulate the growth of plankton that could boost the ocean’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the air. The company plans to estimate the amount of carbon dioxide captured and sell it on the nascent carbon-trading markets. . . . Environmental groups say the Planktos project could have unforeseen side effects, and the Environmental Protection Agency has warned that the action may be subject to regulation under the Ocean Dumping Act. . . . The Surface Ocean Lower Atmosphere Study, an international research group, said last month that “ocean fertilization will be ineffective and potentially deleterious, and should not be used as a strategy for offsetting CO2 emissions.” The International Maritime Organization scientific group, the Friends of the Earth and the World Wildlife Fund have condemned it. And a group called the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said its own ship would monitor the Planktos vessel and possibly “intercept” it.

On Wednesday, George appeared before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and lashed back at his critics. The EPA was working with “radical environmental groups,” he said. In written submissions, he said his firm’s work had been “falsely portrayed” to “generate public alarm.” . . . . George said “it’s the clearest ocean on Earth because it’s lifeless, and it’s not supposed to be that way.”

George asserts that the potential is enormous. He said that the annual drop in ocean plant life was like losing all the rain forests every year. “If we succeed, we’ll have created an industry,” he told the House committee. “If we don’t succeed, we’ll have created a lot of great science.”

Quotes from a few experts on the Planktos plan are below the break.

Farm Bill Markup

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 19 Jul 2007 15:53:00 GMT

Coverage of the farm bill (HR 2419) markup sessions (day one, two, and three) from around the Web: AP: Some Farmers Would Lose Subsidies Under Farm Bill:
The House Agriculture Committee voted Wednesday to ban federal subsidies to farmers with incomes averaging more than $1 million a year and stop farmers from collecting payments for multiple farm businesses.

Only farmers whose incomes exceed $2.5 million a year are now disqualified from such aid.

CQ: Pelosi Eyes Pre-Recess Vote on Farm Bill
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has been taking a hard look at moving the farm bill through the House in a make-or-break week just before August recess. But given the competing priorities, there are no guarantees.
CQ: Labeling Fight Put Off As Farm Bill Markup Proceeds
Food labeling advocates and meat packers have been given a week to strike a deal on mandatory country-of-origin labeling, temporarily averting what was expected to be a heated debate over the hot-button issue.

More coverage at the individual hearing pages (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday).

Live-blogging debate on earmarks

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 17 Jul 2007 16:31:00 GMT

I’m updating the entry on the energy and water earmarks debate as events progress, and updating that entry with more information about the earmarks as I pore over the document.

Abramoff and Global Warming

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 16 Jul 2007 22:33:00 GMT

R. Jared Carpenter, vice president of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, a right-wing environmental non-profit founded by Gale Norton and Grover Norquist, pleaded guilty last week to tax evasion. Carpenter didn’t just take money from Jack Abramoff’s tribes and spend it for himself without paying taxes; he also worked on such environmental issues as climate change, participating in the US Climate Change Science Program workshop that produced the program’s 2003 strategic plan report.

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