Markey Calls Out Toyota On "Impossible" CAFE Standards

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 04 Oct 2007 19:59:00 GMT

Toyota is now responding to NRDC’s challenge to drop its opposition to the Markey-Platts CAFE standard increase (since echoed by UCS and Ed Markey, and written up by Tom Friedman):
There are various bills before Congress that would mandate a new target of 35 mpg by 2020 and require both cars and trucks to meet that standard. Our engineers tell us the requirements specified by these proposed measures are beyond what is possible. Toyota spends $23 million every day on research and development but, at this point, the technology to meet such stringent standards by 2020 does not exist.

Toyota has long supported an increase in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. Moreover, Toyota has always exceeded federal fuel economy requirements. We are continuously striving to improve our fuel economy, regardless of federal mandates.

Toyota currently supports a proposal known as the Hill-Terry bill, HR 2927, that would set a new standard of up to 35 mpg by 2022 (up to a 40% increase) and maintain separate categories for cars and light trucks. Although this won’t be easy, we believe it is achievable.

House Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee chairman Ed Markey responds: “Apparently the only thing that separates Toyota from the ‘impossible dream’ of 35 miles per gallon here in the U.S., is a flight across the Pacific Ocean,” as Toyota meets Japan’s (and Europe’s) fuel efficiency standards of greater than 40 MPG, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation.

Boucher, Dingell in House Energy Committee Call for Cap-and-Trade

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 03 Oct 2007 18:28:00 GMT

As he previously announced he would, Energy and Commerce’s Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee chair Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) released the first of a series of white papers on climate legislation today, Scope of a Cap-and-Trade Program.

Based on the hearings earlier this year, the Committee and Subcommittee Chairmen have reached the following conclusions: The United States should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by between 60 and 80 percent by 2050 to contribute to global efforts to address climate change. To do so, the United States should adopt an economy-wide, mandatory greenhouse gas reduction program. The central component of this program should be a cap-and-trade program. Given the breadth of the economy that will be affected by a national climate change program and the significant environmental consequences at stake, it is important to design a fair program that obtains the maximum emission reductions at the lowest cost and with the least economic disruption. The Subcommittee and full Committee will draft legislation to establish such a program.

Oddly, the white paper fails to mention a baseline for emissions reductions; the scientific consensus for the 80 percent reduction is from 1990 emissions levels.

The white paper makes no recommendations on how credits should be allocated, though Boucher has stated his resistance to auctions in the past. Nor does it discuss interaction with foreign carbon markets or how to deal with imports from unregulated entities.

The white paper argues that complementary measures are necessary:
“Even with a broad-based cap-and-trade program, complementary measures (such as a carbon tax or other tax-based incentives, efficiency or other performance standards, or research and development programs) will also be needed. For example, funding for research, development, and deployment of new technologies would assist industries that will need to adopt new technologies. In addition, efficiency or other performance standards might be appropriate for some economic actors that would be inappropriate to include directly in a cap-and-trade program, but that should contribute to an economy-wide reduction program in some other way.

Proposed measures range from Dingell’s carbon tax, increased CAFE standards, appliance and lighting efficiency standards, a federal renewable energy standard, to carbon sequestration funding.

Further notes are below.

Energy Storage: On the Hill, On the Blogs

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 03 Oct 2007 18:03:00 GMT

This morning saw the House Science and Technology Committee host a hearing on Energy Storage Technologies: State of Development for Stationary and Vehicular Applications, with testimony from a wide array of government, industry, and research experts.

In addition, A Siegel at Daily Kos disscusses advances in “hydro pumped storage”, which uses excess energy from a hydroelectric plant to pump water to a reservoir which can be used to generate power when demand exceeds output.

Toyota "Dear Colleague" Letter about NRDC Campaign

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 03 Oct 2007 17:16:00 GMT

Forwarded to Hill Heat (as always, I’m reachable at cunctator@hillheat.com):
A Message from Irv Miller

Dear Associate:

Toyota is currently the target of a campaign by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) that accuses us of opposing increases in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for cars and light trucks. The assertion by this group that we are actively lobbying against increased fuel economy standards is just flat wrong, and we want you to be aware of the company’s position on this important issue and the facts.

FACT: Toyota has long supported an increase in the CAFE standards. Moreover, Toyota has always exceeded federal fuel economy requirements. We’ve never waited for federal mandates. Under the current CAFE standard, an automaker’s average miles per gallon for cars must exceed 27.5 and light trucks must exceed 20.7. Trucks weighing less than 8500 lbs. must average 22.5 mpg for model year 2008, 23.1 mpg in 2009 and 23.5 mpg in 2010.

FACT: There are various bills before Congress that would mandate a new target of 35 mpg by 2020 and require both cars and trucks to meet that standard. Our engineers tell us the requirements specified by these proposed measures are beyond what is possible. Toyota spends $23 million every day on R&D but, at this point, the technology to meet such stringent standards by 2020 does not exist.

FACT: Toyota supports a proposal known as the Hill-Terry bill, HR 2927, that would set a new standard of from 32 to 35 mpg by 2022 (up to a 40% increase) and maintain separate categories for cars and light trucks. That won’t be easy, but we believe it is achievable.

To help set the record straight, I have posted a message on this topic on the company’s blog. To learn more, visit the blog by clicking here—> http://blog.toyota.com/2007/09/irvs-sheet-a-ca.html

Toyota vs. NRDC and Markey on CAFE Standards

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 03 Oct 2007 16:39:00 GMT

Toyota, maker of the 46 MPG Prius*, is lobbying against the Markey-Platts fuel-economy bill (HR 1506), which calls for 35 MPG by 2020, and for the significantly more industry-friendly Hill-Terry (HR 2927) as part of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. (An AAM rep has even commented on this site).

NRDC is challenging Toyota on its blog and with its How Green is Toyota? campaign, which asks people to email the Toyota North America president and stop opposing Markey-Platts.

Irv Miller, Toyota North America’s VP of corporate communications, promoted Hill-Terry on the Toyota blog in July and fired back at NRDC in September.

Today, from Thomas Friedman in the New York Times:
Representative Edward Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat who heads the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, said to me that Toyota could meet a 35 m.p.g. standard in Japan and Europe today, “but here — even though they bombard Americans with ads about how energy efficient Toyota is — they are fighting the 35 m.p.g. standard for 2020.”

Mr. Markey said he has tried to persuade Toyota that “a lot of people have bought Priuses or Camry hybrids to fight global warming and reduce our dependence on foreign oil” and “they would be shocked to find out” that Toyota is lobbying against the highest m.p.g. standards for America.

CQ: Baucus Proposes Ethanol Credit Cut

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 01 Oct 2007 13:50:00 GMT

CQ.com reports:
Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus is contemplating changes to the ethanol tax credit, Social Security taxes and property taxes to help pay for a bill that would give farmers new tax breaks. . . .

Reducing the 51-cents-per-gallon ethanol tax credit by 5 cents would save about $854 million over 10 years. The provision would take effect only after annual ethanol production reached 7.5 billion gallons. Last year, about 6 billion gallons were made.

While the provision could irritate corn state lawmakers who say current law is helping boost rural economies, biofuel advocates say they won’t fight the provision.

“This is . . . the natural evolution of the industry,” said Matt Hartwig, spokesman for the Renewable Fuels Association.

At the same time, Jon Doggett of the National Corn Growers Association says he has “some real misgivings” about the proposal. Any change in the tax credit should be hashed out in the energy bill, he said.

Coverage of Bush Climate Change Event

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 28 Sep 2007 17:40:00 GMT

Coverage of the Bush administration’s Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change from around the Web, the event keynoted by the president, who was pointedly absent at the UN’s similar event.

DeSmogBlog, U.S. hosts climate-change conference and promptly digs in its heels:
Curiously, or perhaps not, Rice’s remarks echoed those of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper two days earlier, when he told delegates at UN Headquarters that Canada favors an approach that balances global-warming mitigation with economic growth. Harper’s remarks were so in-keeping with the U.S. position they could have been framed by the White House.
ED’s Climate 411, Our Message to the White House Major Emitters Meeting:
A big challenge like global warming requires action and leadership from the United States. And everyone in this room knows what few have been willing to say aloud: No caps, no real progress. The world cannot sufficiently address the climate challenge until the U.S. embraces binding short- and long-range declining caps – determined by what the scientists say is necessary.
Reuters, FACTBOX-Bush’s evolving policy on global warming:
March 28, 2001 – Stating his opposition to the 1997 Kyoto treaty on global warming, Bush says it is against U.S. economic interests and unfair as big developing countries like China and India escape binding emissions pledges.

June 11, 2001 – Shortly before his Europe tour, Bush says it remains uncertain how much of global warming is caused by humans and pledges to use science and diplomacy to fight it….

July 6, 2005 – Bush for the first time says he recognizes that “an increase in greenhouse gases caused by humans is contributing to the problem” of global warming, during a visit to Denmark on his way to the Group of Eight (G8) summit in Scotland….

Dingell Unveils Carbon Tax Proposal 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 27 Sep 2007 01:01:00 GMT

As he announced he would last month, Rep. John Dingell (D-Detroit), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, unveiled draft legislation for a carbon emission fee and related elements.

Dingell is soliciting comment online.

The elements:
  • A $50 tax per ton of carbon (approximately equivalent to a $14 price on CO2, not the $100/ton CO2 reported by CNSNews) to be phased in over five years and then indexed to inflation
    • Revenues will be apportioned to Medicare and Social Security, universal healthcare, SCHIP, conservation, renewable energy research and development, and LIHEAP
  • A $0.50/gallon gasoline tax to be phased in over five years and then indexed to inflation
    • Diesel would be excluded from this tax because “the fuel economy benefits of diesel surpass even its emissions benefits; it provides about a thirty percent increase in fuel economy and a twenty percent emissions reduction,” figures basically in line with the Union of Concerned Scientists report, The Diesel Dilemma “on an energy-equivalent basis, each gallon of diesel fuel results in about three percent more heat-trapping gas emissions than gasoline.”)
    • Biofuel blends would only be taxed on their petroleum content
    • Revenues go to the highway trust fund, with 40% going to the mass transit and 60% going to roads
  • A $0.50/gallon jet fuel tax, with revenues going into the airport and airway trust fund
  • McMansion provision: Phases out the mortgage interest deduction on primary mortgages on houses over 3000 square feet, going to zero for homes 4200 square feet and up
    • Exemptions for historical homes (prior to 1900) and farm houses
    • Exemptions for home owners who purchase carbon offsets to make home carbon neutral or own LEED certified homes
    • Budget savings will go to pay for an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit

National Hurricane Research Initiative

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 25 Sep 2007 16:17:00 GMT

At last week’s American Meteorological Society Hurricanes and Climate Change panel, Greg Holland highlighted the importance of the National Hurricane Research Initiative Act of 2007 (HR 2407, S 931).

The bill, introduced by the Florida delegation in the spring, would establish a multi-agency board to set strategy and make grants for hurricane research. From CRS:
Requires the Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere of the Department of Commerce and the Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a National Hurricane Research Initiative and to cooperate with other specified federal agencies to carry it out. Requires such Initiative to set research objectives (based on a National Science Board report on the need for such Initiative) to: (1) make recommendations to the Board; (2) assemble the expertise of U.S. science and engineering capabilities through a multi-agency effort focused on infrastructure, the natural environment, and improving understanding of hurricane prediction, intensity, and mitigation on coastal populations; and (3) make grants for hurricane research, including regarding hurricane dynamics, modification, and observation, air-sea interaction, relationships between hurricanes and climate, predicting flooding and storm surge, coastal infrastructure, building construction, emergency communication networks, information utilization by public officials, and sharing computational capability. Directs the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, through the National Science and Technology Council, to coordinate U.S. activities related to the Initiative as a formal program with a well-defined organizational structure and execution plan. Directs the Under Secretary and the Director to: (1) establish a National Infrastructure Database to catalog infrastructure, provide information to improve information public policy related to hurricanes, and provide data to improve researchers’ abilities to measure hurricane impacts in order to improve building codes and urban planning; and (2) develop a National Hurricane Research Model to conduct integrative research and facilitate the transfer of research knowledge to operational applications

Carbon Disclosure Project Launches Fifth Annual Report

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 25 Sep 2007 13:19:00 GMT

The Carbon Disclosure Project, a non-profit that advocates corporate climate change disclosure on behalf of a large pool of institutional investors (funded by WWF, government environmental agencies, and various foundations), released its fifth annual report with great fanfare yesterday. In proceedings moderated by Harold E. Ford Jr. (DLC, Merrill Lynch) and keynoted by Bill Clinton (with a video message from Rupert Murdoch), the CDP’s Paul Dickinson announced the results from their questionnaire, sent to 2400 companies around the world. 1300 responded, including 77% of the Financial Times 500, compared to 72% in CDP4, 71% in CDP3, 59% in CDP2, and 47% in CDP1. 76% of responding FT500 companies reported implementing a GHG emissions reduction initiative compared to 48% in CDP4. Europe-based firms had the highest response rate with 83%. However, North America-based firms demonstrated significant improvement with a CDP5 response rate of 74%, compared to 66% in CDP4. South America-based firms also increased their response rate to 60% in CDP5 from 50% in CDP4. The website allows users to search responses by company name (some responses are not publicly available). The executive report is also available.

It’s interesting, for example, to contrast BP with ExxonMobil, both of whom offer detailed disclosures. BP has active wind, solar, biofuels, and CCS divisions, and is concerned by melting permafrost; ExxonMobil sees climate change as an opportunity for growth in the natural gas sector and is looking to reduce flaring in its natural gas wells in Nigeria.

In coverage, the New York Times notes that Gas Emissions Rarely Figure in Investor Decisions and the Washington Post and Business Week cover the Wal-Mart press release about setting up a program to measure its supply chain footprint. Agence-France Presse emphasizes the finding that World companies show big interest in climate, US firms lag, whereas Reuters sees the positive message that Climate change spurs industry restructuring. Forbes discusses Sun Microsystems’ launch of OpenEco, a corporate social-networking website for tracking GHG emissions.

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