Climate & Energy

Lieberman-Warner markup

Sanders’ fourth amendment

This one would require the EPA to act if the National Academy of Sciences learns that we have not taken sufficient action to avoid the worst effects of global warming. It's a so-called "look back" amendment. Lieberman ... opposes it! His own amendment package calls for periodic NAS reports, directs the EPA to review those reports and recommend changes to America's Climate Security Act to the Congress. That's an important difference. There's pros and cons to each. Under a good EPA administrator, the Sanders' amendment would be extremely important. Under an EPA administrator like the current one, it would mean four years without look backs. Lieberman's amendment defers to Congress, which as we all know doesn't always get things done super fast. Lautenberg has proposed changing this amendment in a way that would allow Congress to override EPA recommendations, and Sanders has agreed to withdraw the amendment until it can be considered in the full committee.

Lieberman-Warner markup

Opposing Sanders

Joe Lieberman better have buttered up Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) fairly thoroughly, because he's certainly not courting Bernie Sanders. That said, Lieberman has supported Sanders' third amendment, a modest change to the bill requiring the auto industry to meet the CAFE standards -- 35 mpg -- passed by the Senate this year. This amendment, gratefully, has passed.

Lieberman-Warner markup

Sanders’ second amendment

He wants to carve out funds, currently expected to benefit the auto industry, and dedicate them to improving efficiency. Sanders notes that the language in the bill is extremely weak -- it indicates a flood of subsidies to the auto industry without spelling out specifically what's expected from the auto industry in return. How did chairman Lieberman react? He opposed it, of course! (That basically kills it.) Update: It failed.

Lieberman-Warner markup

Amendments

Bernie Sanders' amendment would carve out a chunk of money from the subsidy package for low-and-zero-carbon technologies and earmark it specifically for wind, solar, and other renewable-energy companies. Lieberman opposes it on the grounds that (a) it's too large a handout to wind and solar, and (b) he wants to wait to spell out the winners of the subsidies in order to keep a coalition of support (which includes an antinuclear faction) in the Senate together. That will pretty much kill the amendment. Update: Yup, it's dead.

Project Better Place

CPR for the electric car

Project Better Place has a new take on jumpstarting the electrification of transportation: they've raised $200 million (about enough to buy, what, three fuel cell vehicles?) to start building infrastructure for charging and battery exchange stations. That's just a down payment. If you play Internet Nancy Drew for a sec you will quickly find out that Israel Corp, a major investor, also has a stake in oil refineries, and 45 percent of Chery, the Chinese car company that keeps threatening to build electric cars. These guys are invested in the full value chain, and dollars to donuts they're leveraging much more value from partner companies than the measly $200 million. We are talking about a $6-10 trillion industry, after all, which tends to focus the mind and get people working together. Do yourself a favor and check out the video. The vision is a transportation system powered by wind and sun. And a software exec (CEO and founder Shai Aggassi comes from SAP) is exactly the right person for the job. We don't have an energy problem, we have an energy storage problem. When I listen to Agassi talk about developing software to manage the charging strategies of EV's flexible and mobile loads in a way that enhances integration of intermittent resources like solar and wind into the grid, I get a little weak in the knees. Combine that with REC's announcement that it was building a 1.5 GW fully integrated solar manufacturing plant in Singapore, and the future seems much brighter indeed. Note that 1.5 GW was about the size of the entire world market in 2006. The combination of cheap solar and millions of big batteries on the grid can mean only good things.

When in drought ...

Why can’t legislators connect nuclear power and water shortages?

Holy cognitive dissonance, Batman! Listen to this, from E&E (sub rqd): Of the two Republicans on the subcommittee, Sen. Johnny Isakson (Ga.), repeated his call to use the [Lieberman-Warner] legislation for the promotion of nuclear power. … Isakson said he would likely miss the subcommittee markup to attend a White House meeting on the Southeastern drought scheduled at the same time with the governors of Alabama, Florida and Georgia. "There’s only one thing more important to me than that markup, and that’s my state running out of water," he said. [Jon Stewart style triple-take] The guy would like to be …

Sanders is my man ... ders

More objections to Lieberman-Warner from Bernie Sanders

Earlier, Brian noted one statement from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on the Lieberman-Warner climate bill. There’s another over on The Hill blog that gets into the technical details of Sanders’ objections. It’s worth reading. To begin with, it shows that Sanders is one of the only legislators in D.C. that really gets it: On most issues, Congress goes through the time-honored tradition of working out compromises which both sides can end up accepting. … We live in a country where people have different political views and in almost every instance members of the Senate compromise to reach an agreement. Today, …

Think global: Act Dingell

If Dingell’s your Rep., tell him what you want

Are you a constituent of Michigan Rep. John Dingell? Via the grammatically challenged but well-meaning Think Global: Act Dingell, you can let him know you’d like him to show genuine leadership on energy and climate. Whatever else Dingell may be — and I expect we’ll be having that argument again before the year’s out — he is a committed and conscientious representative. If his constituents speak in one voice, I think he’ll listen.

Growing cooler

Can urban planners save the earth?

A couple of weeks ago I was in Vancouver, B.C., at a conference where it seemed like everyone was talking about a new book called Growing Cooler: The Evidence on Urban Development and Climate Change. Reviewing dozens of empirical studies, the book's central argument is that urban form is inextricably linked to climate. Low-density sprawl has been a principal contributor to North American climate emissions. And by the same token, smart compact development -- the kind that fosters less driving -- is essential to curbing climate change. From the executive summary: