Climate & Energy

Lieberman-Warner markup

Sanders again!

John Barrasso (R-Wy.) has proposed about seven of his own amendments. Most have been either withdrawn or defeated. The others are fairly weak -- so forgive me for skipping them. Sanders, on the other hand, is trying desperately to strengthen this thing, and is meeting with almost no success. He wants to limit the total tonnage of carbon that companies are allowed to offset (in lieu of direct reductions). But Lieberman ... does not. He also wants to increase the mandatory emission reductions under the cap -- to require 80 percent reductions, mandatory reductions, by 2050. This is key. The numbers we've heard from Senator Lieberman -- that his bill will lead to emissions reductions in the neighborhood of 65 percent -- are based in large part on projections. ACSA's mandatory emissions reductions -- the ones under the cap -- are really very weak. But not too weak for Joe Lieberman. Sanders has said this is his most important amendment. It's going to die. So, possibly, will the chances that he'll vote yes on the bill.

Lieberman-Warner markup

Sanders’ fifth amendment

This is a big one. He wants the bill to move to a full auction of allowances by 2026 as opposed to 2036 as currently stipulated. A lot of enviros would like a 100 percent auction from day one, so this isn't as radical as it sounds, but it's still immensely important. But Joe Lieberman says no. He says that the bill as is will already involve some hardship to some industries, so they basically need tons of subsidies. Right. Lieberman paid lip service to the possibility that the auction provisions might be strengthened later on, but said that 2036 is the "balance point" for political compromise right now and killed the amendment nonetheless.

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.

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, …