Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Senator Boxer's unprecedented, seven hour open mike marathon on global warming drew a crowd yesterday: Sen. Boxer, Clinton, Cardin, Lautenberg, Klubuchar, Whitehouse, Inhofe, Durbin, McCain, Kerry, Lincoln, Bingamen, Feinstein, Obama, Nelson, Murkowski, Akaka, and Levin -- plus statements from Enzi, Lugar, Snowe, Biden, Kennedy, Craig, and Feingold. That's 1/4 of the Senate. While the minority may object to the hearing format...it did its job of focussing attention on the issue.>
During the last Congress, Michael Crichton, famed climate change novelist testified about the uncertainty of climate change science. Now, Rep. Waxman is asking the hard questions about how the White House manipulated the federal government's climate change scientists. What a difference an election can make!
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Democratic chairman of a House panel examining the government's response to climate change said Tuesday there is evidence that senior Bush administration officials sought repeatedly "to mislead the public by injecting doubt into the science of global warming."
Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California, said he and the top Republican on his oversight committee, Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia, have sought documents from the administration on climate policy, but repeatedly been rebuffed.
"The committee isn't trying to obtain state secrets or documents that could affect our immediate national security," said Waxman, opening the hearing. "We are simply seeking answers to whether the White House's political staff is inappropriately censoring impartial government scientists."
"We know that the White House possesses documents that contain evidence of an attempt by senior administration officials to mislead the public by injecting doubt into the science of global warming and minimize the potential danger," Waxman said.
Administration officials were not scheduled to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. In the past the White House has said it has only sought to inject balance into reports on climate change. Present Bush has acknowledged concerns about global warming, but strongly opposes mandatory caps of greenhouse gas emissions, arguing that approach would be too costly.
Waxman said his committee had not received documents it requested from the White House and other agencies, and that a handful of papers received on the eve of the hearing "add nothing to our inquiry."
Two private advocacy groups, meanwhile, presented to the panel a survey of government climate scientists showing that many of them say they have been subjected to political pressure aimed at downplaying the threat of global warming.
Survey: Scientists pressured to downplay threat
The groups presented a survey that shows two in five of the 279 climate scientists who responded to a questionnaire complained that some of their scientific papers had been edited in a way that changed their meaning. Nearly half of the 279 said in response to another question that at some point they had been told to delete reference to "global warming" or "climate change" from a report.
The questionnaire was sent by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a private advocacy group. The report also was based on "firsthand experiences" described in interviews with the Government Accountability Project, which helps government whistleblowers, lawmakers were told.
....At the Waxman hearing, the two advocacy groups said their research -- based on the questionnaires, interviews and documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act -- revealed "evidence of widespread interference in climate science in federal agencies."
The groups report described largely anonymous claims by scientists that their findings at times at been misrepresented, that they had been pressured to change findings and had been restricted on what they were allowed to say publicly.
The survey involved scientists across the government from NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency to the department's of Agriculture, Energy, Commerce, Defense and Interior. In all the government employees more than 2,000 scientists who spend at least some of their time on climate issues, the report said.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
The Stern Review and the Economic Impact of Climate Change
Resources for the Future is pleased to host a special seminar on the economics of climate change featuring a discussion on the recently released Stern Review: The Economics of Climate Change <http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/independent_reviews/stern_review_economics_climate_change/sternreview_index.cfm> . Compiled by Sir Nicholas Stern, head of the United Kingdom's Government Economics Service and adviser to the U.K. government on the economics of climate change and development, the Stern Review is the first major government-sponsored report on the economics of climate change.
This technical seminar provides a rare public opportunity in the United States for members of the Stern Review team and outside experts to discuss and answer questions about the methodologies and conclusions of the Stern Review and the economic analysis of climate change more generally. One hour of the event will be dedicated to addressing questions from attendees in order to engage in a broader discussion of these issues.
Billy Pizer, Senior Fellow, Resources for the Future
Alex Bowen, Senior Economic Adviser, The Stern Review
Henry (Jake) Jacoby, Professor of Management and Economics,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Joe Aldy, Fellow, Resources for the Future
When: Wednesday, February 14, 2007, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Where: Kelley Auditorium
Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
1740 Massachusetts Avenue, NW (one block east of Dupont Circle)
(Original 1/30; revised 2/6 to add links to other participants' reports)
Here's the scoop from our conference call with Ken Cohen, VP Public Affairs, Exxon/Mobil. Obviously, as one would expect, given his background, bio Ken Cohen is an intelligent, well-informed, and articulate spokesman for Exxon/Mobil's position on climate change.
Cohen attempted to downplay Exxon's historic role on climate change by (a) tracing criticism of Exxon back to its opposition to Kyoto (which everyone is supposed to forgive and forget), (b) noting its defunding of CEI in 2005 (but not addressing the remainder of disinformation organizations supported by its "policy" funding), (c) pointing to its generous funding of scientific research, and (d) arguing that Exxon is energy efficient internally. He answered criticism of Exxon by investors and investment advisers by noting that their criticism is based upon (a) and Exxon's limited involvement in alternative energy projects due to its refusal to fund energy projects that are not currently economically viable without government subsidies.
Cohen did not foreshadow Exxon's position on any of the pending national legislative proposals -- merely noting that Exxon would study them with certain "first principles" in mind:
In our view, assessing these options requires an understanding of their likely effectiveness, scale and cost, as well as their implications for economic growth and quality of life. Within ExxonMobil, we analyze and compare the various policy options by evaluating the degree to which they:
- maximize the use of market forces
- ensure a uniform and predictable cost of reducing CO2
- promote global participation
- minimize complexity and administrative costs
- provide transparency to companies and consumers
- adjust to new developments in climate science and the economic impacts of policies
As Cohen analyzes cap and trade, it is a market based approach, so far so good. However, he differentiates between "downstream" and "upstream" caps -- on whether the caps are upstream caps on energy production or downstream caps on carbon emission. The former flunk the "uniformity" test. Cohen also suggests that cap and trade, at least as administered in the EU, may flunk Exxon's "minimize complexity and administrative costs" criterion. Cohen avoids taking any position by arguing that "the devil is in the details." Similarly, when questioned about whether a carbon tax better meets Exxon's policy principles, Cohen noted that economists would argue it does, that any tax must be "revenue-neutral", and that as always "the devil is in the details."
Cohen suggests that Exxon will need to examine current policy proposals "under a microscope." Personally, I find it implausible that Exxon has not analyzed these proposals and has not suggestions about how they could be modified to better comply with its first principles. Exxon is remaining uncommitted in order to be the dealmaker.
Cohen artfully stresses the need to consider costs in choosing mitigation options, pointing to Exxon's comparison of cost of avoiding a ton of CO2:
basically modifying power generation rather than the use of gasoline in light duty vehicles is far cheaper. As to power generation, Exxon considers gas to be the cheapest option, followed by nuclear and clean coal, followed by wind -- with solar currently infeasible. As to vehicles, Exxon considers cellulose ethanol to be most promising, although still requiring research, with conventional ethanol and hybrids much more costly. Cohen noted that conventional ethanol has costed roughly $ 4 whereas the price of gasoline has been about $ 2. [So it would take a pretty sizable carbon teax to shift consumers towards ethanol!!!].
Cohen disclaimed the position that developed countries should not act on climate change unless the developing countries act. He indicated that Exxon's statements raising the competing priorities of poverty eradication, standards of living, and economic development were merely designed to highlight the reality that the developing world will address climate change with these competing priorities in mind. But, sub silentio, he suggested that developed countries should consider these priorities in formulating climate change policy.
Cohen also stressed that alternative energy is not likely to contribute greatly to meeting the world's energy demand, without suggesting in any manner that the projected demand must be significantly reduced.
So....Exxon wants to change perception, without changing its position. It carved out its niche as a climate change policy resister and a single bottom line evaluator of alternative energy projects. It is seeking to modify the public's perception that it is a environmental neanderthal. That perception is underscored by recent news about Exxon's appeal of the Valdez verdict and spills from its NY refineries (see stories from Energy 360 below). Exxon thinks that communicating its climate change position more clearly will make public reaction more favorable. But, that position seems to be that oil can and should remain king in transportation, that climate science remains uncertain (although they concede that some climate mitigation action needs to be taken), that it loves free markets, that we need to go slow on climate change policy ("move gradually")and that alternative energy is currently too expensive to develop. Good luck on getting favorable public reaction to that!
Exxon, however, is not necessarily evil or stupid. Exxon is simply betting that the best niche to carve out is: alternative energy pessimist and "go slow" advocate. Because of its massive size, it does not need to seek to be perceived as an industry leader on climate policy -- especially because Exxon would have to dramatically change its position in order to achieve that honor. Exxon apparently believes it can just sit back, wait, and be the dealmaker on climate change policy, and the spoiler of any climate policy it doesn't care for.
We'll see. I think that responsible American lawmakers will be loathe to let Exxon stand in the way of a sensible climate policy. And if Exxon doesn't attempt to secure more of a leadership position in the industry, it may simply lose its place at the table.
Monday, January 29, 2007
January 24, 2007
Executive Order: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management
Executive Order: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and to strengthen the environmental, energy, and transportation management of Federal agencies, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. It is the policy of the United States that Federal agencies conduct their environmental, transportation, and energy-related activities under the law in support of their respective missions in an environmentally, economically and fiscally sound, integrated, continuously improving, efficient, and sustainable manner.
Sec. 2. Goals for Agencies. In implementing the policy set forth in section 1 of this order, the head of each agency shall:
(a) improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions of the agency, through reduction of energy intensity by (i) 3 percent annually through the end of fiscal year 2015, or (ii) 30 percent by the end of fiscal year 2015, relative to the baseline of the agency's energy use in fiscal year 2003;
(b) ensure that (i) at least half of the statutorily required renewable energy consumed by the agency in a fiscal year comes from new renewable sources, and (ii) to the extent feasible, the agency implements renewable energy generation projects on agency property for agency use;
(c) beginning in FY 2008, reduce water consumption intensity, relative to the baseline of the agency's water consumption in fiscal year 2007, through life-cycle cost-effective measures by 2 percent annually through the end of fiscal year 2015 or 16 percent by the end of fiscal year 2015;
(d) require in agency acquisitions of goods and services (i) use of sustainable environmental practices, including acquisition of biobased, environmentally preferable, energy-efficient, water-efficient, and recycled-content products, and (ii) use of paper of at least 30 percent post-consumer fiber content;
(e) ensure that the agency (i) reduces the quantity of toxic and hazardous chemicals and materials acquired, used, or disposed of by the agency, (ii) increases diversion of solid waste as appropriate, and (iii) maintains cost-effective waste prevention and recycling programs in its facilities;
f) ensure that (i) new construction and major renovation of agency buildings comply with the Guiding Principles for Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings set forth in the Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings Memorandum of Understanding (2006), and (ii) 15 percent of the existing Federal capital asset building inventory of the agency as of the end of fiscal year 2015 incorporates the sustainable practices in the Guiding Principles;
(g) ensure that, if the agency operates a fleet of at least 20 motor vehicles, the agency, relative to agency baselines for fiscal year 2005, (i) reduces the fleet's total consumption of petroleum products by 2 percent annually through the end of fiscal year 2015, (ii) increases the total fuel consumption that is non-petroleum-based by 10 percent annually, and (iii) uses plug-in hybrid (PIH) vehicles when PIH vehicles are commercially available at a cost reasonably comparable, on the basis of life-cycle cost, to non-PIH vehicles; and
(h) ensure that the agency (i) when acquiring an electronic product to meet its requirements, meets at least 95 percent of those requirements with an Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT)-registered electronic product, unless there is no EPEAT standard for such product, (ii) enables the Energy Star feature on agency computers and monitors, (iii) establishes and implements policies to extend the useful life of agency electronic equipment, and (iv) uses environmentally sound practices with respect to disposition of agency electronic equipment that has reached the end of its useful life.
Sec. 3. Duties of Heads of Agencies. In implementing the policy set forth in section 1 of this order, the head of each agency shall:
(a) implement within the agency sustainable practices for (i) energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions avoidance or reduction, and petroleum products use reduction, (ii) renewable energy, including bioenergy, (iii) water conservation, (iv) acquisition, (v) pollution and waste prevention and recycling, (vi) reduction or elimination of acquisition and use of toxic or hazardous chemicals, (vii) high performance construction, lease, operation, and maintenance of buildings, (viii) vehicle fleet management, and (ix) electronic equipment management;
(b) implement within the agency environmental management systems (EMS) at all appropriate organizational levels to ensure (i) use of EMS as the primary management approach for addressing environmental aspects of internal agency operations and activities, including environmental aspects of energy and transportation functions, (ii) establishment of agency objectives and targets to ensure implementation of this order, and (iii) collection, analysis, and reporting of information to measure performance in the implementation of this order;
(c) establish within the agency programs for (i) environmental management training, (ii) environmental compliance review and audit, and (iii) leadership awards to recognize outstanding environmental, energy, or transportation management performance in the agency;
(d) within 30 days after the date of this order (i) designate a senior civilian officer of the United States, compensated annually in an amount at or above the amount payable at level IV of the Executive Schedule, to be responsible for implementation of this order within the agency, (ii) report such designation to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality, and (iii) assign the designated official the authority and duty to (A) monitor and report to the head of the agency on agency activities to carry out subsections (a) and (b) of this section, and (B) perform such other duties relating to the implementation of this order within the agency as the head of the agency deems appropriate;
(e) ensure that contracts entered into after the date of this order for contractor operation of government-owned facilities or vehicles require the contractor to comply with the provisions of this order with respect to such facilities or vehicles to the same extent as the agency would be required to comply if the agency operated the facilities or vehicles;
(f) ensure that agreements, permits, leases, licenses, or other legally-binding obligations between the agency and a tenant or concessionaire entered into after the date of this order require, to the extent the head of the agency determines appropriate, that the tenant or concessionaire take actions relating to matters within the scope of the contract that facilitate the agency's compliance with this order;
(g) provide reports on agency implementation of this order to the Chairman of the Council on such schedule and in such format as the Chairman of the Council may require; and
(h) provide information and assistance to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Chairman of the Council, and the Federal Environmental Executive.
Sec. 4. Additional Duties of the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality. In implementing the policy set forth in section 1 of this order, the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality:
(a) (i) shall establish a Steering Committee on Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management to advise the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Chairman of the Council on the performance of their functions under this order that shall consist exclusively of (A) the Federal Environmental Executive, who shall chair, convene and preside at meetings of, determine the agenda of, and direct the work of, the Steering Committee, and (B) the senior officials designated under section 3(d)(i) of this order, and (ii) may establish subcommittees of the Steering Committee, to assist the Steering Committee in developing the advice of the Steering Committee on particular subjects;
(b) may, after consultation with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Steering Committee, issue instructions to implement this order, other than instructions within the authority of the Director to issue under section 5 of this order; and
(c) shall administer a presidential leadership award program to recognize exceptional and outstanding environmental, energy, or transportation management performance and excellence in agency efforts to implement this order.
Sec. 5. Duties of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. In implementing the policy set forth in section 1 of this order, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall, after consultation with the Chairman of the Council and the Steering Committee, issue instructions to the heads of agencies concerning:
(a) periodic evaluation of agency implementation of this order;
(b) budget and appropriations matters relating to implementation of this order;
(c) implementation of section 2(d) of this order; and
(d) amendments of the Federal Acquisition Regulation as necessary to implement this order.
Sec. 6. Duties of the Federal Environmental Executive. A Federal Environmental Executive designated by the President shall head the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive, which shall be maintained in the Environmental Protection Agency for funding and administrative purposes. In implementing the policy set forth in section 1 of this order, the Federal Environmental Executive shall:
(a) monitor, and advise the Chairman of the Council on, performance by agencies of functions assigned by sections 2 and 3 of this order;
(b) submit a report to the President, through the Chairman of the Council, not less often than once every 2 years, on the activities of agencies to implement this order; and
(c) advise the Chairman of the Council on the Chairman's exercise of authority granted by subsection 4(c) of this order.
Sec. 7. Limitations. (a) This order shall apply to an agency with respect to the activities, personnel, resources, and facilities of the agency that are located within the United States. The head of an agency may provide that this order shall apply in whole or in part with respect to the activities, personnel, resources, and facilities of the agency that are not located within the United States, if the head of the agency determines that such application is in the interest of the United States.
(b) The head of an agency shall manage activities, personnel, resources, and facilities of the agency that are not located within the United States, and with respect to which the head of the agency has not made a determination under subsection (a) of this section, in a manner consistent with the policy set forth in section 1 of this order to the extent the head of the agency determines practicable.
Sec. 8. Exemption Authority. (a) The Director of National Intelligence may exempt an intelligence activity of the United States, and related personnel, resources, and facilities, from the provisions of this order, other than this subsection and section 10, to the extent the Director determines necessary to protect intelligence sources and methods from unauthorized disclosure.
(b) The head of an agency may exempt law enforcement activities of that agency, and related personnel, resources, and facilities, from the provisions of this order, other than this subsection and section 10, to the extent the head of an agency determines necessary to protect undercover operations from unauthorized disclosure.
(c) (i) The head of an agency may exempt law enforcement, protective, emergency response, or military tactical vehicle fleets of that agency from the provisions of this order, other than this subsection and section 10.
(ii) Heads of agencies shall manage fleets to which paragraph (i) of this subsection refers in a manner consistent with the policy set forth in section 1 of this order to the extent they determine practicable.
(d) The head of an agency may submit to the President, through the Chairman of the Council, a request for an exemption of an agency activity, and related personnel, resources, and facilities, from this order.
Sec. 9. Definitions. As used in this order:
(a) "agency" means an executive agency as defined in section 105 of title 5, United States Code, excluding the Government Accountability Office;
(b) "Chairman of the Council" means the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality, including in the Chairman's capacity as Director of the Office of Environmental Quality;
(c) "Council" means the Council on Environmental Quality;
(d) "environmental" means environmental aspects of internal agency operations and activities, including those environmental aspects related to energy and transportation functions;
(e) "greenhouse gases" means carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride;
(f) "life-cycle cost-effective" means the life-cycle costs of a product, project, or measure are estimated to be equal to or less than the base case (i.e., current or standard practice or product);
(g) "new renewable sources" means sources of renewable energy placed into service after January 1, 1999;
(h) "renewable energy" means energy produced by solar, wind, biomass, landfill gas, ocean (including tidal, wave, current and thermal), geothermal, municipal solid waste, or new hydroelectric generation capacity achieved from increased efficiency or additions of new capacity at an existing hydroelectric project;
(i) "energy intensity" means energy consumption per square foot of building space, including industrial or laboratory facilities;
(j) "Steering Committee" means the Steering Committee on Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management established under subsection 4(b) of this order;
(k) "sustainable" means to create and maintain conditions, under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations of Americans; and
(l) "United States" when used in a geographical sense, means the fifty states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the United States Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands, and associated territorial waters and airspace.
Sec. 10. General Provisions. (a) This order shall be implemented in a manner consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(b) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budget, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(c) This order is intended only to improve the internal management of the Federal Government and is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by a party against the United States, its departments, agencies, instrumentalities, entities, officers, employees or agents, or any other person.
Sec. 11. Revocations; Conforming Provisions. (a) The following are revoked:
(i) Executive Order 13101 of September 14, 1998;
(ii) Executive Order 13123 of June 3, 1999;
(iii) Executive Order 13134 of August 12, 1999, as amended;
(iv) Executive Order 13148 of April 21, 2000; and
(v) Executive Order 13149 of April 21, 2000.
(b) In light of subsection 317(e) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002 (Public Law 107 107), not later than January 1 of each year through and including 2010, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the Senate and the House of Representatives a report regarding progress made toward achieving the energy efficiency goals of the Department of Defense.
(c) Section 3(b)(vi) of Executive Order 13327 of February 4, 2004, is amended by striking "Executive Order 13148 of April 21, 2000" and inserting in lieu thereof "other executive orders".
GEORGE W. BUSH
THE WHITE HOUSE,
January 24, 2007.
Return to this article at:
Friday, January 26, 2007
Today I participated in a conference call with Ken Cohen, Exxon's VP for Public Affairs. Exxon is undertaking a concerted PR campaign to resuscitate its reputation as a reasoned voice in the climate change policy debate, reaching out to both the conventional media and to the blogosphere.
Exxon has, of course, been scorned for its financial support of climate change skeptics long after consensus converged in the scientific community that dangerous global warming (1) is already occurring and (2) results in large part from greenhouse gases generated by fossil fuel use. Until recently, Exxon funded Competitive Enterprise Institute -- perhaps most infamous for its "Carbon Dioxide...they call it pollution...we call it Life" television campaign CEI Energy TV spot CEI Glacier TV spot Exxonsecrets.org lists more than another 100 organizations funded by Exxon, many active in opposing GHG and other environmental regulation. Funding list
Exxon has been spurned by green investment advisors and investors. For example, CERES, which coordinates the Investor Network on Climate Risk with 50+ institutional investors with $ 3 trillion in assets, stated Exxon has a
"corporate plan and mindset unprepared to lead in a carbon-constrained world. ExxonMobil's statements, plans, actions, and investments on climate change and clean energy lag behind competitors like BP and Royal Dutch Shell. ExxonMobil's shareholders bear a substantial financial and competitive risk as a result of the company's lack of strategic focus on R&D and deployment of clean, renewable energy technologies...[it is] unmistakably clear that Exxon's fundamental business approach has not changed. The company still firmly believes that oil is the future and that there is no reason to invest meaningfully in clean energy and alternative fuels."
The Investor Responsibility Research Center evaluated companies with respect to proactive governance addressing climate change: Exxon scored 35 compared to 90 for BP and 79 for Shell. Goldman Sachs' Energy Environmental and Social Index in 2005 ranked Exxon Mobil as the worst of the major oil companies on climate change -- running behind BP, Shell, and Chevron Texaco as well as behind BG, ENI, OMV, Repsol, and Amerada Hess.
Exxon wants to change public perception...and today's call was part of the plan. So what did it say? Stay tuned
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Bush's energy proposal in tonight's State of the Union address seeks to reduce projected growth in gasoline use by 20% in the next 10 years. How far short does that fall? Way short!!! We need to cut current emissions; cutting projected growth is not cutting current GHG emissions. We need to cut all GHG emissions associated with transportation, not just gasoline use. Ethanol use may substitute diesel use in growing ethanol sources for gasoline use. We need to cut GHG emissions from electricity generation, not just transportation. The Bush proposal falls way short. Bush has given the Democrats a huge opening here to pass serious global warming legislation and score electoral points. Bush stubbornly refuses to take global warming seriously. He refuses to admit that his policies have been based on bad science. He refuses to admit the severity of the climate crisis. He refuses to endorse mandatory GHG emissions caps, policy initiatives that states are prepared to take, that industry endorses, that the American people understand are necessary, and that will demonstrate to the world, especially China and India, that we are serious about reducing global warming.
But, for the little its worth, here's Bush's proposal:
Twenty In Ten: Strengthening America's Energy Security
Tonight, President Bush Will Ask Congress And America's Scientists, Farmers, Industry Leaders, And Entrepreneurs To Join Him In Pursuing The Goal Of Reducing U.S. Gasoline Usage By 20 Percent In The Next Ten Years – Twenty In Ten. For too long, our Nation has been dependent on oil. America's dependence leaves us more vulnerable to hostile regimes, and to terrorists – who could cause huge disruptions of oil shipments, raise the price of oil, and do great harm to our economy.
America Will Reach The President's Twenty In Ten Goal By:
- Increasing The Supply Of Renewable And Alternative Fuels By Setting A Mandatory Fuels Standard To Require 35 Billion Gallons Of Renewable And Alternative Fuels In 2017 – Nearly Five Times The 2012 Target Now In Law. In 2017, this will displace 15 percent of projected annual gasoline use.
- Reforming And Modernizing Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards For Cars And Extending The Current Light Truck Rule. In 2017, this will reduce projected annual gasoline use by up to 8.5 billion gallons, a further 5 percent reduction that, in combination with increasing the supply of renewable and alternative fuels, will bring the total reduction in projected annual gasoline use to 20 percent.
According to Reuters, Bush will call for more U.S. usage of home-grown supplies of ethanol. Bush may call for over 60 billion gallons a year of ethanol to be mixed into U.S. gasoline supplies by 2030, an admittedly "massive" increase from 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol use by 2012 required by current U.S law. Now, I wonder if we can find out who bought Archer Daniels Midland stock in the last few days.>
Despite international media speculation (e.g.Energy Bulletin snips Sydney Herald) and pressure to act on mandatory GHG caps from the British, media, large corporations, and environmentalists,(Climate Action Partnership calls for action ), the White House continues to deny reports that Bush will reverse course in the State of the Union address. BBC and others report that Bush instead will propose more federal research money, stress ethanol use, and seek to enlarge the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to achieve "energy security." How disappointing -- Bush could steal the thunder from Democrats on this issue just as his health care proposal does.
The Democrats will have a golden opportunity to respond on Wednesday and Thursday at the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting. Speaker Nancy Pelosi will give the plenary address on Wednesday morning and the U.S. Mayors Council on Climate Protection will have a special plenary session on Thursday morning(with Greg Nickels of Seattle, Doug Palmer USCOM President, Sen. Barbara Boxer, Sen. Ed Markey, and the producer of An Inconvenient Truth). The CEQ chair's speech on the administration's environmental priorities has been consigned to a concurrent session committee meeting early Thursday morning.
Monday, January 22, 2007
As always, the ABA SEER Keystone Conference promises to be fun and interesting:
The 36th Annual Conference on Environmental Law promises to be stronger than ever, featuring insights from leading policymakers and practitioners. In addition to an ambitious agenda that addresses some of the toughest challenges in the field of environmental law, the conference will devote particular emphasis to international issues and incorporate new elements that should enhance the value of the program for newer practitioners. Conference breakout sessions will explore a broad range of areas at the leading edge of practice, offering practical guidance to lawyers involved in litigation and complex regulatory counseling, as well as transactions and major projects. Topics include environment-energy nexus in business transactions, the evolution of environmental criminal enforcement, signal trends in solid and hazardous waste law, regulatory strategies to address emerging nanotechnologies, issues at the forefront of Clean Air Act jurisprudence, Clean Water Act compliance and environmental challenges associated with energy development. Friday's plenary session will examine the long-term strategy and direction of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). On Saturday, the plenary will focus on the role of multinational companies in addressing global environmental challenges.
All Things Considered, January 21, 2007 · A group of leading scientists and evangelicals have chosen to put aside their differences on how the world came to be and join forces to protect its future. They've formed a coalition and are lobbying Capitol Hill on environmental issues.
Richard Cizik is the vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals. He believes God made the world in matter of days. Eric Chivian is a biochemist from Harvard University who maintains that man evolved from matter over billions of years.
Chivian says that, before meeting each other, Cizik may have thought of him and other scientists as "latte-sipping, Prius-driving, endive-munching, New York Times-reading snobs. And we might have seen them as Hummer-driving, bible-thumping, fire-breathing…"
"…snake-handling fundamentalists," Cizik finishes.
Unlikely allies? Perhaps. But that's exactly what they've become in their mutual quest to fight global warming. The two men have launched what they're calling a dialog between leading figures in science and religion, specifically evangelical Christianity. They're not pushing any specific legislation, but they're trying to raise the public profile of environmental issues.
Both men are actually sipping lattes at a restaurant a couple of blocks from Capitol Hill. Sitting across the room is Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), someone who could help their cause in a big way. She's finishing up a breakfast meeting in a booth in the back. It's an opportunity the men can't pass up. They introduce themselves and she says she recognizes and admires their work.<>
Five years ago, Cizik would
never have been seen lobbying a Democratic senator on environmental
issues. Like many evangelicals, he saw the environment as a "liberal"
cause that prioritized the needs of plants and animals over those of
human beings. But after attending an environmental conference at Oxford
University in 2002, Cizik says he had a revelation.
"I came away absolutely convinced not only of the science but that I should do my part in this, in helping to persuade other evangelicals of their rightful role," Cizik says.
Over time, Cizik says he began to see the connections between so-called life issues that are so important to evangelicals and preserving God's creation.
"If coal-burning utility plants emit nitrous oxides, mercury, which is then transmitted into our rivers and lakes, ingested by fish eaten by pregnant women who then pass it along to their unborn children and babies, then isn't that a sanctity-of life-issue?" Cizik says.
Cizik and Chivian say the alliance is a win-win situation. Evangelicals get the scientific credibility they need to bring this message to their worshippers. Environmentally concerned scientists get their message to tens of millions of evangelicals.<>
those embracing this new alliance is Edward Wilson, a Harvard biologist
and famed secular humanist. He says this kind of collaboration is only
happening now because both sides have been afraid of each other.
"The secularists are afraid of the power and the potential bigotry as they see it, of the religiously dedicated," Wilson says. "The religious conservatives see the secularists as the enemy, wanting to carpet bomb their most basic beliefs. Now we're both discovering otherwise."
But not everyone is on board. Other leading evangelicals have heavily criticized Cizik, saying that he is diluting the Christian agenda with his environmental crusade.
Even so, Richard Cizik and Eric Chivian say that if more people from science and religion would sit down together as they are doing here, they will discover surprising common ground, and, as Chivian describes it, a universal, even divine, truth.
"We all breathe the same air, we all drink the same water," Chivian says. "And our children, if we leave them in an impoverished world, then we will have committed not only something that's foolish, but it's deeply ignorant and morally inexcusable. And we're saying that together."
Agreeing, Cizik adds, "And to all of that… I say, Amen."
Industry executives call on Bush to accept mandatory action against climate change
By Associated Press
Monday, January 22, 2007 - Updated: 03:07 PM EST
WASHINGTON- The chief executives of 10 major corporations, on the eve of the State of the Union address, urged President Bush on Monday to support mandatory reductions in climate-changing pollution and establish reductions targets.
New ideas from old Europe
How an American carbon-trading system should work
IN RECENT weeks, a rush of climate-change bills has started circulating in America’s new Congress. Eminent names are behind them: in the Senate, Joe Lieberman and John McCain have sponsored one, Dianne Feinstein another and Jeff Bingaman, chairman of the energy committee, a third. A national cap on emissions of carbon-dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, looks closer than ever.
But how should American regulations work? Part of the approach is likely to be a carbon-trading system, which companies prefer because it is more flexible than a carbon tax. The basic idea is that power plants and manufacturers will be allowed to emit a certain number of tons of carbon dioxide. If they exceed that amount, they must buy “credits” from companies that pollute less than their allowance. One day the price of a tonne of carbon may be as widely quoted as that of a barrel of oil.
At a conference last week in Houston, the heart of the energy world, traders and energy companies gathered to discuss the shape of carbon markets to come. America has two models to work from. The European Union (EU) has been trading carbon-dioxide credits since 2005, in an effort to meet its obligations under the United Nations’ treaty on climate change, the Kyoto protocol. It has had plenty of blips, including last April, when prices of carbon plunged by more than half as traders realised that some countries had emitted less than believed. But now, hedge funds and speculators are joining the trading—a sign of a liquid and robust market.
Another model for America is closer to home. America was the first country to be involved in emissions trading. Ironically, credit goes partly to George H. W. Bush—father of the current climate-change sceptic in the White House—whose signing of the Clean Air Act in 1990 authorised trading in sulphur-dioxide emissions to combat acid rain. The effort was hugely successful, and nitrogen oxide was added later.
Some lessons are immediately clear. First, predictability is crucial. One downside of the EU’s system is that companies do not know what will be required after 2012, when Kyoto’s provisions expire. That makes it difficult to plan power plants or factories with long lifespans.
Traders should also be prepared for early jumps in prices. This happened at the start of America’s nitrogen-oxide trading, and during the first year of the EU’s scheme. Scary as they may seem, the rises are a logical result of adjusting to a new market. Companies may be reluctant to sell their credits, in case they become needed later, and buyers are eager to make quick purchases lest the price rise further.
The most important thing is putting a trusted trading structure in place initially. That includes an accurate tally of emissions, and a sensible allocation of permits. Mason Henderson, who heads the emissions-credit desk of Cantor Fitzgerald, a securities-trading company told the conference in Houston, “If you don’t get it right from the start, you’re not going to catch up.”
If Congress does not act, that could be the worst case of all for businesses. Several states are looking into developing emissions-trading schemes, creating a potential patchwork of conflicting regulations. California’s green governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, last year signed legislation to cut greenhouse-gas emissions in his state by 25% below their current trajectory in 2020. This will probably involve trading, though details are scant. In the north-east, seven states have banded together to reduce emissions from power plants. Trading is scheduled to start in 2009.
Notwithstanding Mr Schwarzenegger’s plans to partner with the north-eastern initiative, companies would far prefer a consistent national system. “You don’t want someone to move their business from the Houston area to Louisiana because it’s cheaper,” says Mr Henderson of Cantor Fitzgerald. That is part of why even oil companies are signalling openness to a national emissions-trading scheme, and the industry is awaiting word on whether President George Bush will make any carbon-related announcements in his state-of-the-union address this week. In the long run a global scheme linking American and European markets and beyond—with accompanying improvements in technology that reduces emissions—will be an even better way to address a global problem.
Copyright © 2007 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.
American Bar Association
Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources
Forest Resources, Environmental Impact Assessment
and Public Land and Resources Committees
“Quick Teleconference” program Register
Excluding Forest Plans Under NEPA – A New Forest Service Directive Adds a Categorical Exclusion (CE) for Forest-Planning Decisions
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. ET/ 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. PT
The Forest Service has revised its procedures for complying with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations. Pursuant to a final directive published in the Federal Register, 71 Fed. Reg. 75481 (Dec. 15, 2006), the Forest Service has added, for forest-planning decisions, a new categorical exclusion (CE) – a category of actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the environment and, therefore, do not normally require further analysis and documentation in either an environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement. The new CE applies to agency decisions to develop, amend, or revise land management plans for national forests.
James Ustasiewski, Senior Counsel, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the General Counsel, Juneau, AK
Jim Angell, Managing Attorney, Earthjustice, Denver, CO
Daniel Mandelker, Professor, Washington University School of Law, St. Louis, MO
William R. “Chip” Murray, Natural Resources Counsel, American Forest & Paper Association, Washington, DC
David Tenny, Deputy Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Environment, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC
Ecumenical News International reports:
Canadian Anglican Bishop Michael Ingham has entered a national debate about climate change, giving support to environmentalists currently pressuring the British Columbia and Canadian governments to take action. "Care of the Earth has become one of the most pressing, ethical, moral and spiritual issues of our time," Vancouver-based Ingham wrote in a letter to the premier of British Columbia, Gordon Campbell, calling on the provincial government to set binding provincial targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
USDA Should Improve Its Management of Key Conservation Programs to Ensure Payments Promote Environmental Goals
Highlights of GAO-07-370T, testimony before the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, U.S. Senate full GAO report
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Security Program (CSP), administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), are designed to promote conservation goals. In recently issued reports on these programs, GAO assessed (1) NRCS’s process for allocating EQIP funds to the states to optimize environmental benefits, (2) NRCS’s measures to monitor EQIP’s performance, and (3) the legislative and regulatory measures available to prevent duplication between CSP and other conservation programs, such as EQIP.
What GAO Recommends
GAO recommended that NRCS (1) ensure that the factors and weights used in EQIP’s general financial assistance formula are documented and linked to program priorities, and data sources are accurate and current, (2) continue to analyze and use information from its performance measures to revise the financial assistance formula, and (3) develop a comprehensive process to preclude and identify duplicate payments between CSP and other conservation programs. USDA agreed that the EQIP financial assistance formula needed review and said it has improved oversight to cross-check payments to determine if duplicate payments have been made. USDA did not agree that the EQIP funding process lacked a clear link to the program’s purpose.
Because farmers and ranchers own and manage about 940 million acres, or about half of the continental United States’ land area, they are among the most important stewards of our soil, water, and wildlife habitat. EQIP provides assistance to farmers and ranchers to take new actions aimed at addressing identified conservation problems, whereas CSP rewards farmers and ranchers who already meet very high standards of conservation and environmental management on their operations. In fiscal year 2006, EQIP and CSP provided about $1 billion and $260 million, respectively, in financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers. Efficient and effective management of these programs by NRCS is especially important in light of the nation’s current deficit and growing long-term fiscal challenges. GAO found the following weaknesses in the management of EQIP and CSP:
• NRCS’s process for providing EQIP funds to states is not clearly linked to the program’s purpose of optimizing environmental benefits; as such, NRCS may not be directing funds to states with the most significant environmental concerns arising from agricultural production. To allocate most EQIP funds, NRCS uses a general financial assistance formula that consists of 31 factors and weights. However, NRCS does not have a documented rationale for how each factor contributes to accomplishing the program’s purpose. In addition, some data that NRCS uses in applying the formula are questionable or outdated.
• NRCS has begun to develop long-term, outcome-oriented performance measures for EQIP. Such measures can provide information to better gauge program performance and also help NRCS refine its process for allocating funds to the states by directing funds to areas of the country that need the most improvement. However, NRCS did not have plans to link these measures to the EQIP funding allocation process.
• Despite legislative and regulatory provisions, it is still possible for producers to receive duplicate payments through CSP and other USDA conservation programs because of similarities in the conservation actions financed through these programs. However, NRCS did not have a comprehensive process to preclude or identify such duplicate payments. In reviewing NRCS’s payments data, GAO found a number of examples of duplicate payments.
Ensuring the integrity and equity of existing farm programs is a key area needing enhanced congressional oversight. Such oversight can help ensure that conservation programs, such as EQIP and CSP, benefit the agricultural sector as intended and protect rural areas from land degradation, diminished water and air quality, and loss of wildlife habitat.
Voluntary Offsets For Air-Travel Carbon Emissions
Evaluations and Recommendations of Voluntary Offset Companies
Tufts Climate Initiative report
This paper examines the rapidly growing market for voluntary carbon offsets. As TCI describes it: "The report focuses specifically on how to evaluate offsets companies to offset air travel emissions. Voluntary offsets are of limited value to solve the increasing threat of climate change. They should not be seen as a way to buy “environmental pardons.” In most countries, jet fuel is currently not taxed. Yet to internalize some of the environmental cost and to more accurately reflect the true costs of air travel, such a tax is vital. In December 2006, the E.U. will unveil draft rules for capping airline emissions. The E.U. is proposing to regulate intercontinental flights that use European airports for takeoff or landing. Under these plans, there will be a cap on CO2 emissions – airlines would get a certain number of pollution allowances each year. The U.S. is opposed to such legislation and is threatening legal action against the proposed rules on the grounds that such legislation would violate trade rules. To successfully avert the looming catastrophes that we are facing with global climate change, very strong and swift regulatory action is needed on the state, national and international level. No voluntary approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions should be allowed to delay or replace a mandatory federal cap on carbon emissions or a worldwide tax on jet fuel. Yet voluntary carbon offsets do have their place in spurring innovation and financing carbon-reducing projects that would otherwise not have happened. They are especially appropriate for individuals who have done their best to reduce their personal emissions but would like to neutralize some of the unavoidable emissions that they are responsible for. Air travel is a good example for this. First and foremost, we all should work on minimizing our air travel. But some flying might be unavoidable, for example for academics who need to attend professional conferences, for musicians who tour internationally or for expatriates who wish to visit their relatives. As is to be expected with new business opportunities, the quality and standards of voluntary offset companies vary widely – or as one of our reviewers put it: “It’s the Wild West!” Some offset companies are run by very seasoned carbon trading experts who are well versed in all the issues that surround carbon trading, others are much less experienced and are either using carbon offset to further promote their environmental or humanitarian missions or see the emerging market as a financial opportunity. Neither of these objectives is inherently bad, if the offsets that are sold meet high standards, yet unfortunately that is not always the case. This report and the 2-page pamphlet ‘Flying Green: How To Protect the Climate and Travel Responsibly’ offer guidelines for consumers wishing to offset their emissions. It takes a look at 13 companies and organizations that sell offsets to individuals. The report does not provide final answers but is meant as a think piece to raise the many questions that still need to be addressed in this newly emerging field. We hope that this paper, together with other reports that have recently been published, will help catalyze discussion and will ultimately help steer the market towards offering high quality carbon offsets to concerned citizens.
Two other reports on this subject are Consumers Guide to Retail Carbon Offset Providers, December 2006 report, Clean Air – Cool Planet and the Carbon Trust three stage approach to developing a robust offsetting strategy Carbon Trust.
Companies reviewed by Tufts:
atmosfair. Available online at: http://www.atmosfair.de/index.php?id=9&L=3 Last
accessed on 12/12/06.
Better World Club. Available online at: www.betterworldclub.com/links/offsets.htm and
http://www.betterworldclub.com/ Last accessed on 12/12/06.
CarbonCounter. Available online at: http://www.carboncounter.org/index.php Last
accessed on 12/12/06.
Carbonfund. Available online at: http://www.carbonfund.org Last accessed on 12/12/06.
Clean Air Pass. Available online at: https://www.cleanairpass.com/cap/home.jsf Last
accessed on 12/12/06.
Climate Care. Available online at: http://www.climatecare.org Last accessed on 12/12/06.
climate friendly. Available online at: http://www.climatefriendly.com Last accessed on
myclimate (Swiss site). Available online at: http://www.myclimate.org/index.php?lang=en
Last accessed on 12/12/06.
myclimate (US site). Available online at: http://www.my-climate.com/ Last accessed on 12/12/06.
NativeEnergy. Available online at: www.nativeenergy.com Last accessed on 12/12/06.
Offsetters. Available online at: http://www.offsetters.ca Last accessed on 12/12/06.
Solar Electric Light Fund. Available online at: http://www.SELF.org/cnc.asp and
http://www.SELF.org Last accessed on 12/12/06.
TerraPass. Available online at: http://www.terrapass.com/ Last accessed on 12/12/06.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Bird Flu Blues: Source Country Suppression is the Only Viable Means to Prevent the International Transmission of Pandemic Strains
Peter Caley , Niels Becker, and David Philp of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia have modelled the impacts of various pandemic preparedness efforts on the timing of international spread of pandemic strains. The bottom line is that "[s]hort of preventing international travel altogether, eradicating a nascent pandemic in the source region appears to be the only reliable method of preventing country-to-country spread of a pandemic strain of influenza."PLoSOne link