Climate & Energy

Roadblock at Bali Climate Conference? Not U.S.!

The U.S. sits on the sidelines rather than leading the charge in a war on climate change

Americans have a history of joining together in times of crisis. But the terminology of war is the most familiar rallying cry. So it's understandable that when he's talking about global warming, John Edwards often implores Americans to be "patriotic about something other than war." And when Al Gore accepted his Nobel Prize this week, he said, "We must quickly mobilize our civilization with the urgency and resolve that has previously been seen only when nations mobilized for war." So, where is America the strong, free, brave, visionary? Where is America, defender of the world's climate? The U.S. is not leading the charge at this week's U.N. climate conference in Bali. American delegates have insisted they would not be a "roadblock" to a new international agreement aimed at reducing greenhouse gases. Not be a roadblock? Was it irony or simply poor word choice?

I do not think that word means what you think it means

Forest Service objects to Va. ‘clean coal’ plant that would be one of state’s biggest polluters

I should have added this to my account of state-level coal backlash: The U.S. Forest Service is warning Virginia environmental officials that pollution from a $1.6 billion coal-fired power plant proposed for Wise County would violate federal clean-air laws. In a letter to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the supervisor of the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina said the plant proposed by Dominion Virginia Power would pump enough sulfur dioxide into the air to possibly damage plant life and visibility in the 12,000-acre Linville Gorge Wilderness. This part is particularly, and bitterly, amusing: The plant, called the Virginia …

Senate Republican minority blocks energy bill

The Senate held a cloture vote this morning to overcome a threatened filibuster from Senate Republicans. It failed 59-40 — one vote short of the 60 votes needed. Reid now says he’ll introduce the bill again later today without the clean-energy tax provisions. More later. Right now I’m so disgusted and pissed off I don’t know what to say. UPDATE: Well, here’s one thing to say, to the Associated Press: the first line of your article says that Republicans blocked the bill because of “new taxes” on oil companies. That is straightforwardly false, and deserves a correction. Nobody proposed any …

State of play in Bali

Second-to-last issue of the Bali ECO newsletter

Issue #10 if the Bali ECO is here (PDF). You may need to read between the lines a bit if you haven't been following the negotiations. But it's not hard.

Now it's the CAFE standards

Yet more energy bill woes

This may seem narrow and technical, but it's actually extremely significant: The White House has raised last-minute concerns over regulation of automobile emissions and fuel economy that aides said Tuesday could lead to a presidential veto of the energy bill now before Congress. The bill, which passed the House and is pending in the Senate, requires automakers to meet a fleet average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, but does not specify which government agency should enforce the new rule. Primary regulation of mileage standards has historically fallen to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an arm of the Transportation Department. But vehicle tailpipe emissions are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, and a Supreme Court ruling this year affirmed the E.P.A.'s authority to regulate emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from passenger vehicles, which basically would mean regulating their fuel use. The administration's argument is that the energy bill will create unnecessary confusion over which agency has proper jurisdiction over mileage standards. And at a glance it seems like a reasonable argument. But, of course, it's absolutely not reasonable at all. This is better understood as a bank-shot effort by the Bush administration to block the EPA from functionally regulating carbon emissions from automobiles on behalf of the interest groups that don't want to be bothered with reducing auto pollution.

Call your senator now!

Energy bill to be voted on in Senate tomorrow

Some days are uneventful, with little but the promise of extra pie for dessert to get you through. And then ... some days are pivots upon which the course of history turns, moments in time when each of us are called upon to decide the kind of future we want for ourselves and our children, and take to the ramparts. Tomorrow is one such day. Tomorrow, the Senate will vote on a revised energy bill. Negotiators have jettisoned the renewable electricity standard (RES) and altered some of the revenue-raising tax provisions to make it more palatable to oil-aligned senators and the White House. Still in are CAFE and critical solar investment tax credits necessary to bring solar into the mainstream. The vote will be extremely close -- the bill needs 60 votes to pass, and the opposition is burning up the phone lines, urging Senators not to vote for a bill that eliminates unneeded production incentives for the oil and gas industry. Word is the good guys are one vote short. Some people are taking advantage of this moment in history to call their senators and tell them how they feel about renewable energy. Those people find the number of their senators here. Bill text, bill summary, and solar talking points can all be found here.

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