Climate & Energy

Annals of irritants, part three

Louisiana’s Sen. Landrieu votes against party, for Big Oil

When the energy bill went before the Senate yesterday morning, it had been stripped of the Renewable Energy Standard, but it still retained the tax package, which would have reversed $13.5 billion in tax breaks to oil and gas companies to help pay for $21 billion worth of investment in renewable energy. Republicans, as always, threatened a filibuster, so majority leader Harry Reid went for a cloture vote, for which he needed 60 votes. He got 59. The final roll call shows that only one Democrat voted Nay: Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. If she had voted Yea, the bill …

Drown my sorrows in rivers and celluloid

Ugh. That was rough. I need a pick-me-up, and the Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival can't come soon enough. I've never been, but Nevada City is special and the South Yuba River Citizen's League does great work.

Annals of irritants, part two

Arlen Specter proclaims importance of fighting climate change in Bali; votes against it in D.C.

In a letter to the president (PDF), 52 members of Congress expressed their disapproval of the U.S. stance in Bali: The clear implication is that the United States will refuse to agree to any language putting the United States on an established path toward scientifically-based emission limits … We write to express our strong disagreement with these positions and to urge you to direct the U.S. negotiating team to work together with other countries to complete a roadmap with a clear objective sufficient to combat global warming. The United States must adopt negotiating positions at the Bali Conference of the …

Bali climate meeting goes overtime, drops specific emissions targets

The two-week United Nations climate conference in Bali, Indonesia, has gone into overtime, lasting past its scheduled end as the U.S., Canada, and Japan duked it out with European countries and developing nations in a battle over emissions targets. As expected, the U.S. team, led by Chief Negotiator “Snarlin'” Harlan Watson, has successfully negotiated against specificity; the European nations agreed to drop their insistence that developed nations aim for a target of cutting greenhouse gases between 25 percent and 40 percent by 2020 in favor of continuing to simply talk about cuts instead. However, Germany’s environment minister, Sigmar Gabriel, insisted …


Well, looks like we managed to bolix that one up pretty well.

To those who are blasé about expanding the RFS

Once in place, the RFS will be nigh impossible to eliminate

Several posts during the past week, and countless ones elsewhere, have asked people to support the Energy Bill making its way through Congress. Some people have no problem with one of its major provisions, which calls for substantially expanding the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) -- the regulation that requires minimum amounts of ethanol, biodiesel, or other biofuels to be incorporated into the volume of transport fuels used each year. Indeed, some would even welcome the prospect. Many others do not like the idea, but seem to feel that it is a price worth paying in order to preserve solar investment tax credits as well as production tax credits for large-scale renewable projects. (A national Renewable Electricity Standard has already been dropped from the bill.) Some of those people then argue, in effect, we can always go back and repeal the RFS next year. Next joke.

'Right now, the president's got the upper hand'

Sen. John Kerry defends Dem decision not to force a filibuster on the energy bill

I took part this evening in a short conference call with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and a few other bloggers. It got a bit heated. He passionately defended the Senate’s accomplishments and urged critics to acknowledge the difficult position Congress is in at the moment, with the omnibus budget bill approaching. First, I asked him the question on everyone’s mind: Why not actually make the Republicans filibuster? Bill after bill keeps failing because it can’t get to 60 votes for cloture, but Republicans never have to take a public stand behind their obstructionism. Kerry responded with clear frustration (it obviously …

Senate OKs fuel-economy increase, but drops more ambitious parts of energy bill

The Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly passed an energy bill that would raise auto fuel-economy standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 — but only after a more ambitious version of the bill ran into a roadblock. The more ambitious version, which the House passed last week, got a thumbs-up from 59 senators — a handful of Republicans as well as all of the Democrats except Mary Landrieu from oil-friendly Louisiana — but that was still one vote shy of the 60 needed to get it past a threatened filibuster. To push the bill through, Democratic leaders in the Senate …

How a bill becomes a law

President says he will sign energy bill

The White House just released a statement saying that the president will sign the just-passed energy bill into law: Last January, President Bush called on Congress to reduce our nation’s consumption of gasoline by 20 percent in 10 years by modernizing CAFE standards and greatly expanding the use of alternative fuels. We congratulate the United States Senate for their effort to address the challenge of the President’s bold “20 in 10″ initiative. The Senate energy plan will update CAFE standards and enhance the use of renewable fuels. By addressing the concerns of the Administration and moving forward with a bipartisan …

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