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January 15, 2009
The Role of Coal
Despite Henry Waxman's previous position seeking to ban new coal-fired power plants -- unless they employ CSS technology -- Waxman says that everything about coal is on the table. E & E reported that "the California Democrat has been
sounding more like a centrist than a fossil-fuel fighter as he prepares
to gavel the energy committee's first hearing on the topic today." "Everything is on the table about coal," Waxman said on Capitol Hill yesterday. That
statement followed comments last week in which he said he expected coal
to "play an important role in our overall sources of energy" in the
future. Asked yesterday whether those comments signaled a move to the
center, he said he wants to start the chairmanship with a clean slate
and "doesn't have a position yet to change."
Coal provides 50 percent of
U.S. electricity and a full third of US carbon
dioxide emissions. The coal industry suggests that commercialization of CSS technology is more than a decade away -- although the technology is clearly at the pilot plant stage. Obama is considering tax
incentives in the economic stimulus package to develop CCS and restarting FutureGen, a zero-emissions coal plant that was being designed when the Bush administration pulled the financial plug on the project.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.)
Waxman's first hearing on
climate change is industry oriented, which some take as a sign that Waxman will to take a
middle-of-the-road approach on global warming, reducing requirements
for developing and deploying CCS technology. Testimony
today will come from representatives from the U.S. Climate Action
Partnership, a coalition of corporations and environmental
organizations calling for greenhouse gas reductions that includes
members such as utility giant Duke Energy and mining company Rio Tinto. USCAP's Blueprint for Legislative Action calls for a cap-and-trade plan that will raise the cost of new coal-fired power plants.
proposed climate bill
January 15, 2009 in Climate Change | Permalink
Oh, pity the poor millionaire, who lost so much this fall
Unfortunately, I didn't have a million to lose.
January 15, 2009 in Economics | Permalink
US Climate Action Partnership climate change plan launched -- behind the times
The US Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), a coalition of business, environmental and other interests, unveiled its "Blueprint for Legislative Action" climate change program today, which features a cap-and-trade approach to reducing GHG emissions. USCAP link to 28 page Blueprint USCAP Executive Overview The cap-and-trade proposal is, of course, by now mainstream thinking -- and unsurprising given the Environmental Defense economic incentive approach to environmental problems. The USCAP plan is based upon an 80% reduction of 2005 GHG emissions by 2050. Note that this goal falls far short of more ambitious proposals already made in Congress and is woefully inadequate to meet the 350 ppm, 1 degree C criterion for climate change mitigation policy proferred by James Hanson, et al. to avoid dangerous global warming impacts.
The Blueprint apparently represents two years of work by USCAP members
building on their January 2007 Call for Action, which articulated principles for climate change mitigation efforts and made recommendations urging “prompt enactment
of national legislation in the United States to slow, stop and reverse
the growth of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the shortest time
The Blueprint responds to requests by federal policymakers for a detailed
consensus to help inform climate change legislation. USCAP acknowledges that it does not include all stakeholders and interests. It characterizes the Blueprint as an "integrated package of policies [providing] a pragmatic pathway to achieve aggressive
environmental goals in a responsible and economically sustainable
manner." 4 page
Excerpts from Executive Overview:
The United States faces an urgent need to reinvigorate our nation’s
economy, enhance energy security and take meaningful action to slow,
stop and reverse GHG emissions to address climate change.
USCAP agrees that the science is sufficiently clear to justify
prompt action to protect our environment. Each year of delayed action
to control emissions increases the risk of unavoidable consequences
that could necessitate even steeper reductions in the future, with
potentially greater economic cost and social disruption.
To address these challenges successfully will require a fundamental
shift in the way energy is produced, delivered and consumed in the US
and around the globe. Thoughtful, comprehensive and tightly linked
national energy and climate policy will help secure our economic
prosperity and provide American businesses and the nation’s workforce
with the opportunity to innovate and succeed.
While we recognize that achieving the needed emission reductions is
not free of costs, we also believe well-crafted legislation can spur
innovation in new technologies, help to create jobs, and increase
investment and provide a foundation for a vibrant, low-carbon economy.
change presents a global problem that requires global solutions. USCAP
believes that international action is essential to meeting the climate
challenge. U.S. leadership is essential for establishing an equitable
and effective international policy framework for robust action by all
major emitting countries. For this reason, action by the U.S. should
not be contingent on simultaneous action by other countries. In our Blueprint we offer a set of principles to guide Congress and the Administration to address the global dimension of this problem.
Cap-and-Trade System Design
believe the strongest way to achieve our emission reduction goals is a
federal cap-and-trade program coupled with cost containment measures
and complementary policies for technology research, development and
deployment, clean coal technology deployment, lower-carbon
transportation technologies and systems, and improved energy efficiency
in buildings, industry and appliances. In a cap-and-trade system, one
allowance would be created for each ton of GHG emissions allowed under
the declining economy-wide emission reduction targets (the “cap”).
Emitters would be required to turn in one allowance for each ton of GHG
they emit. Those emitters who can reduce their emissions at the lowest
cost would have to buy fewer allowances and may have extra allowances
to sell to remaining emitters for whom purchasing allowances is their
most cost-effective way of meeting their compliance obligation. This
allows the economy-wide emission reduction target to be achieved at the
lowest possible cost.
Targets and a Timetable for Action
Emission Reduction Targets
- 97%-102% of 2005 levels by 2012
- 80%-86% of 2005 levels by 2020
- 58% of 2005 levels by 2030
- 20% of 2005 levels by 2050
USCAP believes the legislation should establish a mandatory, national
economy-wide climate protection program that includes aggressive
emission reduction targets for total U.S. emissions and for capped
sectors (see sidebar). Equally important, it is imperative that the
costs of the program be manageable. USCAP believes the recommended
targets are achievable at manageable costs to the economy provided that
a robust offsets program and other cost containment measures, along
with other critically important policies as recommended in the Blueprint
are enacted. In addition, Congress should require periodic assessment
of emerging climate science and U.S. progress towards achieving
emission reduction targets, and social, environmental and economic
impacts in order to determine if legislative revisions are necessary to
improve the nation’s climate protection program.
Scope of Coverage and Point of Regulation
recommends the cap-and-trade program cover as much of the economy’s GHG
emissions as politically and administratively possible. This includes
large stationary sources and the fossil-based CO2 emitted by fuels used
by remaining sources. The point of regulation for large stationary
sources should be the point of emission. The point of regulation for
transportation fuels should be at the refinery gate or with importers.
Congress should establish policies to ensure carbon-based price signals
are transparent to transportation fuel consumers and other end users,
thereby encouraging them to make informed GHG-reduction choices.
Emissions from the use of natural gas by residential and small
commercial end users can be covered, for example, by regulating the
utilities that distribute natural gas, often referred to as local
distribution companies (LDCs).
Offsets and Other Cost Containment Measures
Adequate amounts of offsets are a critical component of the USCAP Blueprint.
Emissions offsets are activities that reduce GHG emissions that are not
otherwise included in the cap. USCAP recommends all offsets meet strong
environmental quality standards (i.e., they must be environmentally
additional, verifiable, permanent, measurable, and enforceable). We
recommend that Congress should establish a Carbon Market Board (CMB) to
set an overall annual upper limit for offsets starting at 2 billion
metric tons with authority to increase offsets up to 3 billion metric
tons, with domestic and international offsets each limited to no more
than 1.5 billion metric tons in a given year.
In addition, the CMB should oversee a system-wide strategic offset
and allowance reserve pool that contains a sufficiently large set of
additional offsets and, as a measure of last resort, allowances
borrowed from future compliance periods that could be released into the
market in to prevent undue economic harm in the event of excessively
high allowance prices, especially in the early years of the program.
USCAP recommends other measures to limit allowance price spikes and
volatility including unlimited banking of allowances and effective
multi-year compliance periods.
Allocation of Allowance Value
allowances in an economy-wide cap-and-trade system will represent
trillions of dollars in value over the life of the program. USCAP
believes the distribution of allowance value should facilitate the
transition to a low-carbon economy for consumers and businesses;
provide capital to support new low- and zero-GHG-emitting technologies;
and address the need for humans and the environment to adapt to climate
USCAP recommends that a significant portion of allowances should be
initially distributed free to capped entities and economic sectors
particularly disadvantaged by the secondary price effects of a cap and
that free distribution of allowances be phased out over time.
The Blueprint identifies principles to guide the fair and
equitable allocation of allowances to: end-use consumers of
electricity, natural gas, and transportation fuels; energy intensive
industries that face international competition; trade-exposed commodity
products; competitive power generators and other non-utility large
stationary sources; low-income consumers and workers in transition;
programs to achieve technology transformation; and adaptation needs of
vulnerable people and ecosystems at home and abroad. A significant
portion of emission allowance value should also be allocated to
electric and natural gas LDCs, which are cost regulated, to dampen the
price impact of climate policy on electricity and small natural gas
customers, particularly in the early years of the emission constraint.
Credit for Early Action
USCAP recommends a
robust program to provide credit for early action for those who have or
will take early actions to reduce emissions. This is an important
cost-containment mechanism for early actors to ensure they will not be
at a relative disadvantage compared with those who wait to take action.
believes that policies and measures that are complementary to a
cap-and-trade program are needed to create incentives for rapid
technology transformation and to ensure that actual reductions in
emissions occur in capped sectors where market barriers and
imperfections exist that prevent the price signal from achieving
A robust technology
transformation program that results in substantial investment in new
technologies is a critical complementary measure to a national strategy
to cap and reduce GHG emissions. USCAP recommends a program that
features federal support for emerging technology research and early
demonstration and deployment of new technologies.
USCAP recommends that Congress
provide needed regulatory certainty and substantial financial
incentives to facilitate and accelerate the early deployment of carbon
capture and storage (CCS) technology, including addressing financial
and regulatory barriers that could delay wide-spread deployment. USCAP
recommends implementing CO2 emissions standards for coal plants
initially permitted after January 1, 2015, subject to Congress
providing adequate funding for CCS and needed regulatory certainty
being in place; and retrofit requirements for coal plants initially
permitted after January 1, 2009 and prior to January 1, 2015, subject
to deployment thresholds being met.
Achieving the USCAP economy-wide
emission reduction targets and timetable will require a systematic
approach that involves fuel providers, vehicle and equipment
manufacturers, consumers and other end users, and public officials who
set policy direction and plan and manage transportation and related
infrastructure and land use. The systematic approach recommended by
USCAP includes improving both fuel and vehicle GHG performance
standards, as well as improving the efficiency of the transportation
Buildings and Energy Efficiency
one of the most immediate steps Congress can take to begin to address
climate change is to enact policies and measures that improve the
energy efficiency of the U.S. economy. We recommend aggressive
promotion and implementation of GHG reduction programs including state-
or utility-sponsored conservation and efficiency programs, tightened
building codes and standards, and appliance efficiency standards.
Collectively, these programs will help drive investment in
cost-effective energy efficiency by encouraging utilities and consumers
to improve efficiency when the cost of doing so is lower than the cost
of an equivalent amount of energy in the form of electricity or natural
January 15, 2009 in Air Quality, Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Governance/Management, Legislation, Sustainability, US | Permalink
January 14, 2009
Individual Fishing Quotas at Work -- west coast groundfish program seeks Commerce approval
In recent years, West Coast groundfish stocks -- including soles and cod as well as deep-water rockfish like colorful canary and thorny heads -- have sharply declined due to decades of overfishing and fisheries management that failed to align the needs of the resource with the long term interests of the fishermen. In 2000, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce declared the Pacific groundfish commercial trawl fishery a disaster. In fact, landings for West Coast trawlers have plummeted 70 percent in the last two decades. Since 1998, revenues have dropped from $47.3 million to $22.2 million.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council, Environmental Defense Fund and other NGOs and stakeholders have collaborated on creating a catch share program based on individual fishing quotas, which was passed by the Council in November. Under the plan, the entire fishery will operate under a catch limit and each fisherman will be awarded a guaranteed percentage of the total catch based on fishing history. Fishermen will no longer be forced to compete for ever-dwindling numbers of fish. Instead, the certainty provided by each fisherman's guaranteed share will foster conservation and cooperation.
Profits may increase by as much as 80% per boat due to increased efficiency and flexibility along with higher prices at the dock.
Studies recently published in the journals Nature and Science show that catch share systems reverse overfishing and even replenish depleted stocks. Catch shares also decrease wasteful discards and improve safety for fishermen.
To see how a similar program has worked well for Alaska halibut fishermen, view a short video presentation: http://action.edf.org/ct/6d1CLAM1BRKj/
The new Secretary of Commerce will be asked to approve the Council's program this spring.
Recently, Environmental Defense provided some information about the West Coast groundfish ITQ program. While the program is grounded in sound economic theory, I wonder whether the program continues to rely on trawling that causes long-term damage to the marine ecosystem. If so, it solves the overfishing problem, without reaching the heart of the matter. Fortunately, NOAA is now going to be headed by a woman who actually knows the answer to that question!!!
January 14, 2009 in Biodiversity | Permalink
Time to Revisit Maintenence in AK Oil Fields
A AK Department of Environmental Conservation report yesterday on a slightly less than 2000 barrel leak of produced water from a corroded pipeline in an ConocoPhillips Alaskan oil field reminds us that it is not just public infrastructure that needs to be better maintained. Planet Ark reported that a corroded pipeline ruptured on Christmas Day at ConocoPhillips'
Kuparuk oil field in Alaska, causing one of the biggest spills of
oil-laced water at the field in years. The 94,920-gallon
spill from a corroded water-injection pipeline did not affect
production from North America's second-biggest field, which has a capacity toproduce nearly 150,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The
December 25 incident was similar to the 200,000-gallon crude oil
spill at BP Plc's nearby Prudhoe Bay oil field in 2006 -- the worst oil
spill on Alaska's North Slope -- which was also caused by corrosion of
January 14, 2009 in Energy | Permalink
EU Pesticide Ban advances through EU parliament
Yesterday, the European Parliament voted to ban highly toxic pesticides unless their effects can be proven to be negligible. If endorsed by 27 EU ministers, countries with similar geography and climate could decide
whether farmers may use specific products. This implements an agreement negotiated in December that substantially reduced the number of substances to be banned. December agreement
The EU will list EU-approved
"active substances," excluding 22 ingredients that are classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic
or toxic to reproduction. The chemical "blacklist" includes eight substances used in the
manufacture of herbicides, 11 used in fungicides and three in
insecticides, many of them produced by German chemical giants Bayer and
BASF -- including Ioxynil, Amitrol and Iprodion. That list will provide the basis for national EU governments to approve pesticides nationally or, via mutual recognition with 120 days, in the north, center, and south regions of the EU. Currently, approvals apply only for individual countries and there is no deadline set for mutual recognition approvals.
Already licensed pesticides remain available until their 10-year
authorization expires, avoiding a sudden large-scale
withdrawal of pesticides from the market.
EU countries will be allowed to ban a product, because of specific environment or agricultural circumstances. Also, certain restrictions will be put on pesticide use, including banning most aerial
crop-spraying, strict conditions on pesticides use near aquatic environments and drinking water supplies, and buffer zones requirements around water and protected areas along
roads and railways.
January 14, 2009 in Agriculture, Air Quality, Biodiversity, Economics, EU, Governance/Management, Land Use, Legislation, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, Water Quality | Permalink
January 12, 2009
Communicating the Science of Climate Change
For those who teach climate change, this book review from Real Climate makes Bud Ward's new book on communicating on climate change sound worthwhile. I personally think that the FAQs and graphics in the Working Group I Report of IPCC's 4thAR are also spectacular.
is perhaps self-evident that those of us here at RealClimate have a
keen interest in the topic of science communication. A number of us
have written books
aimed at communicating the science to the lay public, and have
participated in forums devoted to the topic of science communication
(see e.g. here, here, and here).
We have often written here about the challenges of communicating
science to the public in the modern media environment (see e.g. here, here, and here).
It is naturally our pleasure, in this vein, to bring to the
attention of our readers a masterful new book on this topic by veteran
environmental journalist and journalism educator Bud Ward. The book, entitled Communicating on Climate Change: An Essential Resource for Journalists, Scientists, and Educators, details the lessons learned in a series of Metcalf Institute
workshops held over the past few years, funded by the National Science
Foundation, and co-organized by Ward and AMS senior science and
communications fellow Tony Socci.
These workshops have collectively brought together numerous leading
members of the environmental journalism and climate science communities
in an effort to develop recommendations that might help bridge the
cultural divide between these two communities that sometimes impedes
accurate and effective science communication.
I had the privilege of participating in a couple of the workshops,
including the inaugural workshop in Rhode Island in November 2003. The
discussions emerging from these workshops were, at least in part, the
inspiration behind "RealClimate". The workshops formed the foundation
for this new book, which is an appropriate resource for scientists,
journalists, editors, and others interested in science communication
and popularization. In addition to instructive chapters such as "Science for Journalism", "Journalism for Scientists" and "What Institutions Can Do", the book is interspersed with a number of insightful essays by leading scientists (e.g. "Mediarology–The Role of Climate Scientists in Debunking Climate Change Myths" by Stephen Schneider) and environmental journalists (e.g. "Hot Words"
by Andy Revkin). We hope this book will serve as a standard reference
for how to effectively communicate the science of climate change.
January 12, 2009 in Climate Change, Governance/Management, Physical Science | Permalink
January 11, 2009
States Set for Clean Energy Lobbying on Hill
Larry Kopp/Seth Allen, The T.A.S.C. Group
Ph: 646-723-4344/ cell: 917-282-2357
Clean Energy States Alliance
To Hold Congressional Briefing on Capitol Hill
CESA Will Propose New Federal/State Partnership for Green
DC, January 9, 2009: Clean Energy
States Alliance (CESA) will hold a congressional briefing on Tuesday, January
13 on the strategic role of states in supporting clean energy. The event is co-sponsored
by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and will be held from 2:00
to 3:30 p.m. at 366 Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill. CESA will
present policy recommendations for the Obama administration and outline a new
federal/state partnership for moving forward with effective clean energy
economic stimulus. The key is distributing federal funds for clean energy
investment directly through the many existing state clean energy funds and
"For years, the states have been funding clean energy
projects and have taken the lead in green collar job creation," said CESA
President, Lewis Milford. "The federal government should use the many
existing state clean energy funds as vehicles to quickly and efficiently deploy
the green stimulus investment."
Speakers for the briefing include: Lewis Milford, President
and Founder of Clean Energy States Alliance and Clean Energy Group; Janet
Joseph, Director of Clean Energy Research &Market Development, New York
State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA); Tom Plant, Director
of Colorado Governor's Energy Office; Rob Sanders, Sustainable Development Fund
Manager, The Reinvestment Fund and Peter West, Director of Renewable Energy,
Energy Trust of Oregon.
The briefing coincides with a press conference and panel
event CESA has scheduled for the morning of January 13 at the National Press
Club. The press breakfast will start at 9:30 a.m. and run through 11:00 a.m. At
the event, CESA will release a new report which highlights its national database
of nearly 50,000 state funded renewable energy projects. The projects in the
database have a capacity of 1.7 Gigawatts and generate 5.3 million megawatt
hours of electricity each year, enough to power 500,000 homes. As of 2007, 12,000
state renewable energy projects have been completed and state clean energy
funds have invested $1.5 billion and leveraged an additional $2.5 billion in
Much of the innovative and effective activity to advance
clean energy has taken place at the state level. By supporting creative
finance, policy, and market initiatives, the states have been serving as
laboratories where ideas for implementing clean energy can be tested and proven
in the real world. In many cases, the states have established special funds to
promote renewable energy and other clean energy technologies. CESA will also
honor five state clean energy programs with the inaugural "State Leadership in
Clean Energy Awards" at the event. Representatives from CESA and the winning programs
will be present.
The CESA and EESI briefing is open to press. Anyone interested
in attending the event and scheduling interviews with CESA representatives must
Larry Kopp/Seth Allen, Office: (646) 723-4344, Cell: (917)
About Clean Energy States Alliance
Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) is a national nonprofit
organization that works with clean energy funds and state agencies to expand
the nation's clean energy infrastructure and advance markets for clean energy
technologies. CESA provides information and technical services to its members
and shares its knowledge with the federal government and influential
policymakers. CESA's member states manage programs that will invest nearly $6
billion in the next ten years to support clean energy. Clean Energy Group (CEG)
created CESA in 2002 and now manages it.
January 11, 2009 in Air Quality, Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Governance/Management, Legislation, Sustainability, US | Permalink
FindLaw Environmental Case Summaries
ENVIRONMENTAL LAW CASES
• The Nat'l Cotton Council of Am. v. Envtl. Prot. Agency
• Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Office of Envtl. Health Hazard Assessment
FindLaw's case summaries are copyrighted
material and are not intended for republication without prior approval.
You may, however, freely redistribute this e-mail in its entirety.
To view the full-text of cases you must sign in
U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, January 07, 2009
The Nat'l Cotton Council of Am. v. Envtl. Prot. Agency, No. 06-4630
In a suit against the EPA by environmental and industry interest groups
challenging the EPA's Final Rule concluding that pesticides applied in
accordance with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act
(FIFRA) are exempt from the Clean Water Act's National Pollutant
Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting requirements, the Final
Rule is vacated where the text of the Clean Water Act bars the Final
Rule by subjecting dischargers of pesticide pollutants to the NPDES. Read more...
California Appellate Districts, January 07, 2009
Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Office of Envtl. Health Hazard Assessment, No. B204987
Agency charged with implementing Proposition 65 did not abuse its
discretion in listing di-isodecyl phthalate, which is used as a
plasticizer in a wide variety of PVC plastic products, as a chemical
known to cause reproductive toxicity under the Safe Drinking Water and
Toxic Enforcement Act. Read more...
January 11, 2009 in Cases | Permalink