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Frank O'Donnell's Posts


clean-eyed monster

New Clean Air rule to tame the coal plant monster

Cross-posted from the Wonk Room. Today, the Obama administration proposed a sweeping plan to reduce power plant emissions that cross state lines and kill tens of thousands of Americans every year. The proposed Clean Air Transport Rule replaces the Bush administration's so-called Clean Air Interstate Rule that was shot down by the courts because it permitted so much interstate emission trading that even some power companies filed suit. A federal court ordered EPA to fix the shaky legal grounds of the Bush plan. Power industry pollution remains so pervasive -- and so often blows from one state to another -- …


Power Poisons

How utilities plan to continue evading toxic air pollution controls

Cross-posted from the Wonk Room. As federal authorities struggle to deal with the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, it is probably useful to remember that power companies continue poisoning water bodies throughout the nation. The power industry's successful campaign to sidestep toxic pollution controls has left a legacy of poisoned rivers and lakes. As ugly as this legacy seems, the power industry appears to be maneuvering once again for further delays, trying to use pending Senate climate legislation as an escape hatch. A draft version of the Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act would create a new task force …


Lisa Murkowski’s bid to become a climate outlaw

Cross-posted from Wonk Room. Why is Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) behaving like an outlaw? It’s jarring to learn that Sen. Murkowski wants to take away U.S. Environmental Protection Agency authority to limit greenhouse gas emissions from oil refineries, coal-burning power plants and other smokestack industries. As reported in Environment and Energy Daily, Murkowski has filed a proposed amendment to spending legislation for EPA that would prohibit the agency from regulating greenhouse pollutants except those from cars or other “mobile” sources: “Senator Murkowski is concerned about the economic consequences of EPA command-and-control regulation of emissions,” said spokesman Robert Dillon. The senator …


Hawthorn Group claims it's an innocent victim -- oh, really!?

Forgery Farce

One of the more macabre aspects of the still-evolving scandal involving the forged letters to Congress on the climate legislation was the disavowal of all responsibility by the Hawthorn Group -- the astro-turf lobbying group that has worked for nearly a decade to snooker public officials about allegedly "clean coal." Since 2000, Hawthorn has worked for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electrcity (ACCCE), the alliance of coal companies, coal-burning power companies and coal-hauling railroads that seeks to convince us that coal is "essential" to America's future. After the forgery scandal broke, Hawthorn quickly moved to blame its subcontractor, Bonner & …


Senate Spoil Sports

Most of the news coverage in recent days, understandably has focused on the Markey climate hearings and speculation about when his subcommittee will actually start voting.  And now there is scrutiny of efforts by "moderate" House Democrats to gut the Waxman-Markey bill on behalf of Duke Energy, the Edison Electric Institute and other forces of darkness who assert with a straight face that "the consumer" is their only concern. Across the Capitol, however, another important mini-drama is playing out. There, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has recommended approval of the very qualified Gina McCarthy, the environmental commissioner from …

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Paterson's polluted plan

New York governor goes in the tank for industry, backs away from climate plan

It's a shocking reversal from one of the states that pioneered efforts to deal with global warming from electric power plants. The New York Times reveals that New York state's accidental Gov. David A. Paterson has caved in to energy industry demands and now appears ready to run roughshod over his own experts to give industry free carbon emission permits. Aside from the fact that this is a major policy retreat -- and threatens to undermine President Obama's strategy of requiring polluting power companies to buy carbon permits through an auction -- there are several reasons why this is a …

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Inaugural diesel stimulus

Will Congress get a whiff and vote to clean up dirty diesel engines?

The Washington Post has an interesting note about the armada of diesel buses that have rolled into the nation's capital for the Obama inauguration -- and the need to clean them up. The opportunity for the "policy change" described in the piece could be at hand as soon as the day after the inauguration, Wednesday, Jan. 21, when the House Appropriations Committee takes up the economic recovery bill. The committee already recognized the desire to include the cleanup of existing diesel engines as part of the stimulus bill. See the bottom of page 4 of the House plan [PDF], which …

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Dingell damage control

More on the battle with Henry Waxman over the House Energy and Commerce committee

With a secret-ballot vote by Democrats in the House of Representatives likely next week, Washington, D.C. continues to buzz over the effort by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) to unseat Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) as chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. Dingell's corporate-lobbyist friends on K Street are coyly staying off the record on this -- I guess they don't want to make it too obvious that Dingell is their guy -- though unnamed sources have begun floating the idea that some sort of compromise might be appropriate. This is probably a sign of weakness from the Dingell …


Waxman v. Dingell

Why polluter lobbyists are rallying to protect ‘Tailpipe Johnny’

While the Obama transition team starts assembling the pieces of his administration, one of D.C.'s most intriguing subplots is unfolding: the contest between Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and John Dingell (D-Mich.) for chairmanship of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees clean air, global warming, and other critical environmental legislation. Last week the Washington Post reported that Dingell is rallying friendly K Street lobbyists in an effort to fend off Waxman and hold on to his chairmanship. And so the corporate propaganda now ham-fistedly attempts to portray Waxman as less effective at building consensus on effective legislation. I've …


Dirty air in the parks

White House begins review of controversial EPA rule

With a new president-elect only days away, the Bush administration is racing to push through 11th-hour, polluter-friendly rules. The Washington Post flagged some of the most egregious examples in a front-page story, Friday. The latest to pop up is what the Bush EPA opaquely describes as the "increment modeling" rule. It is now under review by the White House Office of Management and Budget. Despite its inpenetrable name, this rule is highly controversial: It would make it easier for electric power plants and other big smokestack sources of air pollution to site near national parks and wilderness areas. It would do this by …

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