January 26, 2007
A Discussion with Ken Cohen, Exxon/Mobil
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
January 23, 2007
Bush's Twenty in Ten energy proposal stubbornly refuses to face global warming reality
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.
The President's Plan Will Help Confront Climate Change By Stopping The Projected Growth Of Carbon Dioxide Emissions From Cars, Light Trucks, And SUVs Within 10 Years.
The President's Plan To Strengthen America's Energy Security Also Includes:
- Stepping Up Domestic Oil Production In Environmentally Sensitive Ways.
- Doubling The Current Capacity Of The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) To 1.5 Billion Barrels By 2027.
Reducing Gasoline Consumption Through The Growth Of Alternative Fuel Sources
The President's Plan Calls For Facilitating The Growth Of Renewable And Alternative Fuel Sources By Increasing The Size And Expanding The Scope Of The Current Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
- The RFS, established by the President and Congress in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, has contributed to the rapid acceleration of the development and use of renewable fuels. Significant ongoing technological advances have made it possible to increase and expand the standard to displace even larger volumes of gasoline.
- Under current law, fuel blenders must use 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuels in 2012.
- Under the President's proposal, the fuel standard will be set at 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels in 2017. This will displace 15 percent of projected annual gasoline use in 2017. The President's proposal will also increase the scope of the current Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), expanding it to an Alternative Fuel Standard (AFS).
- The Alternative Fuel Standard will include sources such as corn ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel, methanol, butanol, hydrogen, and alternative fuels.
- The increased standard will contain multiple "safety valves."
- The EPA Administrator and the Secretaries of Agriculture and Energy will have authority to waive or modify the standard if they deem it necessary, and the new fuel standard will include an automatic "safety valve" to protect against unforeseen increases in the prices of alternative fuels or their feedstocks.
- American Technology And Innovation Will Lead To Energy Security. President Bush believes our scientists, farmers, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders will continue to lead the world in developing and investing in cutting-edge technology, infrastructure, and farming methods. Advances in many fields will play an important role, such as continued improvement in crop yields, optimization of crops and cellulosic materials as fuel feedstock, and cost reduction in the production of cellulosic ethanol and other alternative fuels. The increased and expanded fuel standard creates a tremendous incentive for research, development, and private investment into alternatives to oil.
- Global Production Of Alternative Fuels Helps Us Reach Our Goal And Increases Our Energy Security. The President expects most of the expanded fuel standard to be met with domestically-produced alternative fuels. However, importing alternative fuels also increases the diversity of fuel sources, which further increases our energy security.
- The President's Plan Enables America To Lead The World To Energy Security. By establishing such a visible and ambitious fuel standard, America's global leadership will help encourage our friends and allies to consider similar policies. Actions by America's friends and allies to increase their production of oil and oil alternatives, diversify their supplies, reduce their consumption, and increase their oil reserves will enhance the energy security of America and the rest of the world. Conversely, foreign actions that undermine free, open, and competitive markets for trade and investment in energy supplies diminish the energy security of America and the world. This is why America opposes the political manipulation of oil and gas exports.
Reducing Gasoline Consumption Through Increasing Vehicle Efficiency
The President's CAFE Plan Will Reduce Gasoline Consumption By Up To 8.5 Billion Gallons Per Year In 2017. The President's plan calls for reforming and increasing CAFE standards for cars, and for further increasing light truck and SUV standards. The President believes new technologies can be deployed to significantly improve fuel economy without impacting safety. Reducing projected consumption by up to 8.5 billion gallons in 2017 means a 5 percent reduction in projected gasoline consumption in that year. The fuel efficiency standard will have even larger benefits later, when consumers replace even more of the auto fleet with purchases of the more efficient new vehicles. These amounts are based on an assumption that on average, fuel efficiency standards for both light trucks and passenger cars are increased 4 percent per year, beginning in Model Year 2010 for cars and Model Year 2012 for light trucks. Given the changing nature of the marketplace for both cars and light trucks, the Secretary of Transportation will determine the actual standard and fuel savings in a flexible rulemaking process.
- Congress Must Reform CAFE For Passenger Cars. The Administration has twice increased CAFE standards for light trucks using an attribute-based method. An attribute-based system (for example, a size-based system) reduces the risk that vehicle safety is compromised, helps preserve consumer choice, and helps spread the burden of compliance across all product lines and manufacturers. Congress should authorize the Secretary of Transportation to apply the same kind of attribute-based method to passenger cars.
- Congress Should Not Legislate A Particular Numeric Fuel Economy Standard. The Secretary of Transportation should be given the authority to set the fuel standard, based on cost/benefit analysis, using sound science, and without impacting safety.
- The President's Plan Incorporates Flexibility To Minimize Consumer Costs And Increase Consumer Benefits. The plan will enable auto companies to increase fuel economy at the lowest possible cost to consumers by building flexibility into the CAFE standard for both cars and light trucks, such as giving companies the opportunity to buy and sell CAFE credits.
The President's Plan Calls For The U.S. Department Of Transportation (DOT) To Work With States And Cities To Explore Ways To Reduce Traffic Congestion, Help Save Fuel, And Reduce Commute Times. In 2003, drivers in America's 85 most congested urban areas experienced 3.7 billion hours of travel delay and wasted 2.3 billion gallons of fuel, costing a total of $63 billion.
- The President's Budget Redirects DOT Funds To A New $175 Million Highway Congestion Initiative For State And Local Governments To Demonstrate Innovative Ideas For Curbing Congestion. These ideas include congestion pricing, commuter transit services, commitments from employers to expand work schedule flexibility, and faster deployment of real-time traffic information. In one year, this wasted fuel accounts for more than 20 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
Stepping Up Domestic Oil Production In Environmentally Sensitive Ways
The President Calls For Stepping Up Domestic Oil Production In Environmentally Sensitive Ways By:
- Continuing to support Congressional action to authorize environmentally responsible oil and gas exploration in a small area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge located in northern Alaska, which could produce as much as 1 million barrels of oil per day – Congress reserved this small area after the late 1970s oil shocks to help prevent future ones.
- Continuing to work with Congress to develop legislation to encourage investments in refinery capacity.
- Continuing to encourage all parties to resolve remaining issues regarding the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline.
Doubling The Current Capacity Of The Strategic Petroleum Reserve
The President Proposes Doubling The Current Capacity Of The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) To 1.5 Billion Barrels By 2027. The SPR's purpose is to provide the United States with an emergency inventory of oil, an insurance policy in the event of a severe supply disruption, such as from a natural disaster or a terrorist attack in the energy supply chain. Doubling the SPR alone will provide approximately 97 days of net oil import protection, enhancing America's ability to respond to potential oil disruptions.
- The SPR Is Currently At 691 Million Barrels And, Due To Increased Consumption, This Represents Only 55 Days Of Net Oil Imports. In 1985, the SPR, with 493 million barrels of oil, represented 118 days of net oil imports.
Our Nation Has Already Made Great Progress In Strengthening Our Energy Security
Technology Has Enabled Us To Make Significant Progress. We need to continue with important research into plug-in and advanced hybrid vehicles, and expand the use of high efficiency clean diesel vehicles and biodiesel fuel. We must continue investing in new methods of producing ethanol and other biofuels. We must further expand the use of clean coal technology, solar and wind energy, and clean, safe nuclear power.
Including The 2008 Budget, The Federal Government Will Have Spent $15 Billion Since 2001 To Develop Cleaner, Cheaper, More Efficient, And More Reliable Energy Sources.
The President Signed The Gulf Of Mexico Energy Security Act To Increase Domestic Oil And Gas Production By Allowing Access To Key Portions Of America's Outer Continental Shelf. This allows access to areas with potential resources of more than 1 billion additional barrels of oil and nearly 6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
The President's Plan Enables Us To Further Enhance Our Energy Security
Technology Will Help Diversify America's Energy Supply. America is close to technological breakthroughs that will decrease our oil dependency, protect our environment, and help us confront the serious challenge of global climate change. The President's new proposals build upon the advances made possible by the Administration's previous initiatives, including the Advanced Energy Initiative, American Competitiveness Initiative, and the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
Energy Security Will Be Further Enhanced By:
- Increasing The Transportation Sector's Energy Diversity. Increasing renewable and alternative fuels used in automobiles from 3 percent in 2006 to 15 percent in 2017 can give drivers a built-in defense against supply disruptions and high gasoline prices.
- Increasing The Supply Of Oil Alternatives And Reducing Oil Demand. The President's plan will reduce our oil consumption by 10 percent in 2017, or 2 million barrels per day. Increasing the supply of oil alternatives and reducing oil demand could slow the growth of oil prices and lower the price over time, increasing our energy security.
- Building Resilience Through Doubling The Current Capacity Of The Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Uninterrupted oil supply is critical to our energy security. Increasing oil reserves strengthens our ability to respond to oil shortages and reduces our vulnerability to terrorist attacks on energy supplies and infrastructure.
The President's 2008 Budget Continues Robust Funding For Advanced Energy Technologies That Can Help Reduce Our Dependence On Foreign Oil And Provide Clean, Lower Carbon Energy To Change The Way We Power Our Homes And Businesses. The 2008 budget includes nearly $2.7 billion for the Advanced Energy Initiative, an increase of 26 percent above the 2007 request and 53 percent above 2006. The 2008 budget provides $179 million for the President's Biofuels Initiative, an increase of $29 million (19 percent) compared to the 2007 budget. The President's Biofuels Initiative aims to accelerate cost reduction and commercial development of cellulosic ethanol, which can be made from abundant biomass materials, including agricultural waste and forest residues, and from dedicated energy crops such as switchgrass.
The President's Farm Bill Proposal Will Include More Than $1.6 Billion Of Additional New Funding Over Ten Years For Energy Innovation, Including Bio-Energy Research, Energy Efficiency Grants, And $2 Billion In Loans For Cellulosic Ethanol Plants.
The Administration's Ongoing Energy Policy
The Administration's 2001 National Energy Plan Provided A Blueprint For Diversifying And Conserving Our Energy Resources To Increase Our Energy Security.
- Energy Policy Act Implementation: In August 2005, the President signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which was a significant first step towards achieving greater energy security. Among its many achievements, the Energy Policy Act established the Renewable Fuel Standard that has increased the use of biofuels; provided incentives for renewable energy, clean coal, and advanced nuclear energy; and instituted mandatory reliability rules for the electricity grid and promoted investment in transmission upgrades.
- Advanced Energy Initiative: Building upon the Energy Policy Act's clean energy foundation, the President announced the Advanced Energy Initiative in the 2006 State of the Union Address. The Advanced Energy Initiative focuses on increasing R&D to encourage technological breakthroughs in the transportation and power sectors that will diversify our resource portfolio and reduce our dependence on foreign oil in order to strengthen our energy security. The Advanced Energy Initiative also incorporates the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, aimed at reducing proliferation risks while expanding availability of clean, safe, climate-friendly nuclear energy.
The President's Plan Enables Us To Further Protect Our Environment
The President's Plan Will Help Confront Climate Change By Stopping The Projected Growth Of Carbon Dioxide Emissions From Cars, Light Trucks, And SUVs Within 10 Years.
- By 2017, the renewable fuel and fuel efficiency components of the plan would cut annual emissions from cars and light trucks by as much as 10 percent, about 175 million metric tons – equal to zeroing out the annual emissions of 26 million automobiles.
- The plan could cumulatively prevent the buildup of more than 600 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
The President's Plan Will Help Improve Public Health By Significantly Reducing Carbon Monoxide Emissions And Cancer-Causing Benzene Emissions.
The Administration Is Taking Action To Address Climate Change And Improve Air Quality And Human Health:
- The Administration's Commitment: The President has set a target of cutting our greenhouse gas intensity by 18 percent through the year 2012 and his budgets have devoted nearly $29 billion to climate-related science, technology, international assistance, and incentive programs.
- Asia-Pacific Partnership On Clean Development And Climate: Launched the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, in concert with partners Australia, China, India, Japan, and South Korea, representing 50 percent of the world's economy. The Partnership is accelerating investment and opening markets for cleaner, more efficient technologies, goods, and services while fostering sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction. Nearly 100 programs and actions are underway in eight public-private task forces: aluminum, building and appliances, cement, cleaner fossil energy, coal mining, power generation and transmission, renewable energy and distributed generation, and steel.
- Working With G-8 Leaders: Worked with G-8 leaders on a wide range of initiatives, including the 2005 launch of the G-8 Gleneagles Plan of Action for Climate Change, Clean Energy, and Sustainable Development, which encompasses more than 50 practical, results-oriented actions to address the interlinked issues of energy security and access, air pollution control, and climate change.
- International Technology Partnerships: Launched and actively contributed to major international technology partnerships to share breakthroughs and advances in fusion, hydrogen, next-generation nuclear power, renewable energy, energy efficiency, capture and underground storage of carbon dioxide emissions, and profitable capture of methane emissions from coal mines, landfills, inefficient oil and gas systems, and agricultural operations.
- Cooperation With Private Industry: Obtained specific commitments from 14 industrial sectors and the Business Roundtable, led by more than 100 major corporations, to address greenhouse gas emissions in partnership with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency.
- Advancing Lower Carbon, Clean Coal Technologies: Awarded nearly $1 billion in tax credits last year, and will award $650 million more this year, to help offset the cost of nearly $10 billion in total investment to build more than nine highly efficient, advanced coal projects in at least nine states, using technology that cuts emissions through efficiency and holds the promise of cost-effective carbon capture and storage. This experience will culminate in 2012 with the construction of the $1 billion FutureGen demonstration power plant, a public-private international partnership to build the world's first coal-fired power plant that produces electricity and hydrogen with nearly zero-emissions. The Administration is also pursuing large-scale tests in the United States designed to advance carbon sequestration technologies which can have the potential to store more than 600 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of more than 200 years of emissions from energy sources in the United States.
- Clean Air Interstate And Clean Air Mercury Rules: Issued the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) and Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR) to require power plants in the Eastern part of the United States to cut their emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and – for the first time – mercury, by nearly 70 percent, producing significant improvements to air quality, human health, and natural resources.
- Clear Skies: Proposed Clear Skies legislation to authorize in law the administrative changes of CAIR and CAMR and provide more flexible, more cost-effective, and nationwide application of the regulations.
- New Source Review: Proposed reforms to the New Source Review (NSR) program to eliminate regulatory uncertainty for power plants, refineries, and manufacturing facilities that want to improve efficiency, pollution control, and reliability. In the power sector, NSR reform will allow immediate efficiency investments and significantly lower carbon dioxide emissions, even as the power plants invest about $50 billion over the next 15 years to cut their pollution to satisfy the new clean air regulations.
Buy ADM: Bush's Global Warming Cure<>
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.>
Bush's Approach to Climate Change Won't Change in the State of the Union Address
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.
Mr Bush will ask Congress for $1.6bn over the decade to fund research into alternative energy and $2bn in loans for cellulosic ethanol plants.
But there are no indications that he will impose specific limits on greenhouse gas emissions.
This will dismay not just Democrats, but some Republican-supporting industrialists who want Mr Bush to adopt a comprehensive strategy for tackling climate change, the BBC's Iain Watson in Washington says.
Mr Bush will also call for a strengthening of America's energy security - doubling its Strategic Petroleum Reserve by 2027.
The SPR is an emergency petroleum store with the current capacity to hold up to 727 million barrels of crude oil.
"For too long our nation has been dependent on foreign oil," the president will say.
"And this 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."
This blog has now been added to the Blawg directory and is being archived by the Library of Congress.
January 22, 2007
The Keystone Conference
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.
Questions for Exxon/Mobil????
I've been invited to participate in a conference call on Friday, January 26th with Exxon/Mobil's VP for Public Affairs, Ken Cohen. Any questions you'd like me to ask????
NPR Reports on Evangelical - Environmental Scientific Partnership on Global Warming
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."
AP Reports on Climate Action Partnership
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.
The Economist's Opinion on US Emissions Trading
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.
ABA SEER Teleconference: Forest Service Categorical Exclusion from EISs for Land Planning
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
Canadian Bishop Calls for National and Provincial Climate Change Goals
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.
GAO Says Conservation Programs Need Tune-up
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.
Looking for legitimate voluntary carbon credits? Tufts has an answer
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.