Friday, April 30, 2010

CO2 National Media Watch from NRDC



April 30. 2010


Climate Impasse Won't Stop Regulations, National Journal (see below), 05/01/10. Climate change will be the dominant environmental issue in Washington for the rest of 2010, whether or not Congress adopts legislation to control green-house-gas emissions. Last weekend, Senate efforts to pass an energy and climate-change bill hit a wall when Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., withdrew his support for the proposal that he had spent months crafting with Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn. In a letter to supporters of the broad goals of the legislation, Graham said he was stepping away because of "what appears to be a decision by the Obama administration and Senate Democratic leadership to move immigration instead of energy." Graham asserted, "I will not allow our hard work to be rolled out in a manner that has no chance of success." NEUTRAL.

American Power Act, New York Times (op-ed), 04/30/10. Columnist David Brooks: The best vehicle now is the American Power Act, drawn up by John Kerry, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham. The bill, like all politically plausible bills these days, is larded with special-interest provisions and public giveaways to defuse opposition and win votes. But it does perform a few essential tasks. To boost innovation, it raises the price on carbon and devotes some of that money (though not nearly enough) to research and development. POSITIVE.

World Rethinks Climate Legislation‎, Wall Street Journal/Asia (op-ed), 04/30/10. Tom Switzer: It was always going to be an uphill battle for the U.S. Congress to pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation in an election year. But with Senator Lindsey Graham's likely decision to withdraw his support from the landmark bill, the prospects are now virtually zero.  That is not just because Mr. Graham had been the only Republican senator to endorse a broad approach to tackling global warming. It's because the climate, politically speaking, has changed dramatically since June when the House of Representatives narrowly passed a climate cap-and-tax bill. President Obama's decision to make immigration reform a higher priority in the Senate legislative calendar is a recognition of this reality: Cap-and-tax is dead. And not just in Washington either.  Tom Switzer is a research associate at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney and editor of the Spectator Australia.  NEGATIVE.

Cap and Trade Loses in Australia, Wall Street Journal/Asia, (editorial), 04/29/10. But no matter how hard governments try, it's hard to cover up the fact that the more the public learns about the science and cost of fighting global warming, the less popular it becomes. Expect more climate climb downs to come. NEGATIVE.

Cape Windbags, Wall Street Journal (editorial), 04/30/10. Cape Wind might have had an easier go if it had tried to build near Bar Harbor, Maine, or East Hampton, New York, if only because the Kennedy family doesn't summer in those well-to-do retreats. In a February letter, Joseph P. Kennedy II invoked the middle-class proletariat in defense of his Hyannis ocean views when he argued that Cape Wind imposed an "unjustified burden on the ratepayers of Massachusetts." Though the company disputes his analysis, Mr. Kennedy estimates that electricity rates will be two to three times more expensive after Cape Wind. NEUTRAL.

Will Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Jeopardize Energy Bill, Obama's Offshore Drilling Policy?, ABCNews.com, 04/30/10.  White House Says There Will Be No New Offshore Drilling Until Investigation is Complete.   NEUTRAL.

Bill Nelson wants drilling plans postponed, Politico, 04/30/10.  The Gulf of Mexico oil spill menacing Louisiana’s coast and beaches is now threatening to muck up the White House’s plans to expand offshore drilling along the East and West coasts, as President Barack Obama and his top advisers spoke with increasing alarm Thursday about the incident.  NEUTRAL.

Spotlight: Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill, Time, 05/10/10. When President Barack Obama announced on March 31 that he would support expanded offshore oil and natural gas drilling--overturning a decades-long moratorium on new energy exploration--environmentalists warned that he was playing with fire.NEUTRAL.

As oil spreads through Gulf of Mexico, critics assail Obama's offshore drilling plan, Washington Post, 04/30/10. In Washington, the White House held a series of high-profile media events aimed at communicating that the administration is fully engaged in the crisis. Obama went to the Rose Garden and said, "While BP is ultimately responsible for funding the cost of response and cleanup operations, my administration will continue to use every single available resource at our disposal, including potentially the Department of Defense, to address the incident."  At a midday news conference, the administration rolled out two cabinet chiefs and other senior White House advisers to assert that the government would do whatever it could to help BP stop the leak.  NEUTRAL.

White House Takes a Bigger Role in the Oil Spill Cleanup, New York Times, 04/30/10. Calling it “a spill of national significance” which could threaten coastline in several states, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the creation of a second command post in Mobile, Ala., in addition to the one in Louisiana, to manage potential coastal impact in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar ordered an immediate review of the 30 offshore drilling rigs and 47 production platforms operating in the deepwater Gulf, and is sending teams to conduct on-site inspections.NEUTRAL.

Oil Slick Nears Coast as U.S. Escalates Response, Wall Street Journal, 04/30/10.  The oil "is already in state waters" and will reach the Pass-a-Loutre Wildlife Management Area, near the southernmost tip of the state later Thursday, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said after a meeting with council members and a congressman to discuss the emergency.  The prospects for slowing the spread of the oil appear dim, and the slick threatens to cause significant environmental damage and disruption to business along the Gulf Coast. In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency Thursday to aid state response and asked the Coast Guard and BP PLC to deploy more resources to the state. NEUTRAL.


Administration responds to Gulf leak, Politico, 04/30/10. The President immediately began actively monitoring the incident and consulting on the response. The President has been in contact with all the governors of the states that may be affected and ordered that the administration use every single available resource at our disposal, including potentially the Department of Defense.  In addition, early on, the President directed responding agencies to not only devote every resource to respond to this incident but to also determine its cause. Earlier this week, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar laid out the next steps for the investigation. NEUTRAL.

US Gulf States Mobilize for Valdez-Like Oil Spill, Bloomberg, 04/30/10. This has a danger of becoming an utter ecological disaster,” said Ken Medlock, a fellow in energy and resource economics at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy in Houston. “This is going to result in remediation costs, and is going to be burdensome, to say the least.” Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency and demanded extra oil barriers from BP and the U.S. Coast Guard to protect wildlife preserves that nurture a $1.8 billion seafood industry, the richest in the U.S. behind Alaska. NEUTRAL.

White House acts to limit political damage of Louisiana oil spill, Times, 04/30/10. The White House mounted an urgent political offensive yesterday to prevent the oil spill off Louisiana turning into an electoral as well as an environmental disaster. Mindful of the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina on President Bush’s credibility, President Obama and his senior staff used tweets, briefings and a formal address in the Rose Garden to show that he was doing everything possible to limit the damage to some of America’s most sensitive coastline. Mr Obama was receiving constant updates on the spill and dispatched Ken Salazar, his Interior Secretary, to the BP command centre in Houston. Earlier in the day, the first 20 minutes of his daily intelligence briefing were devoted to the looming catastrophe. NEUTRAL.

Higher Oil Prices Raise Profits for Exxon and ConocoPhillips, Associated Press, 04/30/10. Higher oil prices raised quarterly profits for the Exxon Mobil Corporation and ConocoPhillips, but Exxon’s earnings were hurt by weak refinery performance, higher-than-expected exploration costs and recently enacted health care legislation.  Exxon’s earnings fell below Wall Street forecasts, in stark contrast to BP and Royal Dutch Shell, which both exceeded market expectations when they released quarterly figures this week.  Oil prices averaged nearly $79 a barrel in the first quarter, about $3 more than the previous quarter and sharply higher than the $43 average of the first quarter of 2009.  NEUTRAL.

Oil Spill’s Blow to BP’s Image May Eclipse Costs, New York Times, 04/30/10. BP says that the offshore drilling accident that is spewing thousands of barrels of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico could cost the company several hundred million dollars.  Nobody really knows whether the London-based oil giant is being too conservative about the cost for the April 20 accident, which some experts say could end up as the biggest oil spill in history. The 1989 grounding of the Exxon Valdez off Alaska, for example, cost Exxon Mobil more than $4.3 billion, including compensatory payments, cleanup costs, settlements and fines.  NEUTRAL.

Obama takes immigration reform off agenda, Associated Press, 04/30/10. Immigration reform has become the first of President Barack Obama's major priorities dropped from the agenda of an election-year Congress facing voter disillusionment. Sounding the death knell was Obama himself.NEUTRAL.

Graham feared a gas-tax set-up, The Hill/E2Wire, 04/29/10. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) explained to the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein why he is no longer supporting the climate change bill that he helped to write. The long and the short of it is that Graham feared he was being set up.  The legislation was thought to include a “linked fee” on gasoline tied to carbon prices in a cap-and-trade market. Graham said he began to get spooked after an anonymous White House official told Fox News that Graham in effect was supporting a gas tax, a third rail in American politics. Graham and his climate co-horts, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), have since said their climate legislation does not include a linked fee. “[It's] not a gas tax. I need Harry Reid to say I agree with you. I support that," Graham told the Post. "I won't introduce a bill and have the majority leader, who I have less than a strong bond with, say, 'I can't support that gas tax.'" NEUTRAL.

EIA to Assess Senate Climate Bill's Impacts on Energy Supply, Demand, New York Times /Greenwire, 04/29/10. EIA will take a minimum of six to eight weeks to run the numbers on what the senators' legislation means through 2035 for energy supply, demand, prices and greenhouse gas emissions.NEUTRAL.

Climate bill analysis to take up to eight weeks: EIA, Reuters, 04/29/10. The U.S. Energy Information Administration will take up to eight weeks to analyze the stalled Senate climate bill after receiving most of its details from the office of Senator John Kerry, a spokesman said on Thursday.NEUTRAL.

Voinovich still wants 'comprehensive' EPA analysis of climate bill, The Hill/E2Wire, 04/29/10. Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) is still insisting a "comprehensive" EPA analysis of climate legislation is completed before he votes on the bill. Last year, Voinovich and other Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee boycotted a panel vote on climate legislation introduced by Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) because they did not have an EPA cost analysis of the bill. Committee Democrats had argued that the bill was similar enough to House-passed climate legislation that a separate EPA analysis was not necessary. NEUTRAL.

EPA Hasn't Seen Climate Bill Either, Mother Jones, 04/29/10. According to the EPA, the senators submitted a "description of their draft bill" for economic modeling. The agency confirmed in a statement to Mother Jones the senators "have not sent EPA any actual legislative text." The agency is determining whether it has enough information about the bill to produce an analysis of its economic and environmental impacts. Environmental advocates say that the EPA can begin modeling without the full text as long as it has the key details in hand, like the year a carbon cap would be put in place, how much of the economy would be covered, and an upper and lower restriction on the price of pollution permits. And if there are changes to those details, it would be fairly easy to tweak the agency's computer models accordingly and produce a new evaluation, they say. NEUTRAL.

Veterans Push Trio Bill Despite Stalemate, National Journal (see below), 04/29/10. More than 30 retired military generals and admirals are in Washington this week pushing Congress and the administration to pass the Senate trio's "American Power Act," despite the fact that the bill has not yet been introduced.  POSITIVE.

Military folks, environmentalists call for climate bravery, Washington Post, 04/29/10. With climate legislation stalled in the Senate, an array of groups called Thursday for lawmakers to settle their differences and get moving. Leaders from 54 environmental, labor and faith groups wrote a letter (pdf) asking President Obama to step it up to get climate and energy legislation passed this year. POSITIVE.

33 US Military Generals, Admirals: "Climate Change is Threatening America's Security", Tree Hugger, 04/29/10. Pentagon has already made it well known that it considers climate change a grave national security threat, and recently the US military already pointed out that the world may face severe oil shortages as soon as 2015. But now, in what's being hailed as an "unprecedented" show of support for climate action, 33 retired US military generals and admirals have united to alert the public and our legislators that "climate change is making the world a more dangerous place." They should know -- they've seen its effects firsthand. POSITIVE.

Retired admirals and generals push for climate bill, citing national security ..., Daily Caller, 04/30/10. Fighting climate change is a pressing national security issue, say seven retired generals and admirals who headed to Capitol Hill Thursday in an attempt to break the logjam on climate legislation.“America’s billion-dollar-a-day dependence on oil makes us vulnerable to unstable and unfriendly regimes,” the group wrote in an ad signed by 33 military leaders that ran Thursday in two Hill-focused papers. POSITIVE.

Green groups to Obama: Keep the pressure on for climate legislation, The Hill/E2Wire, 04/29/10. A wide swath of environmental groups is urging President Barack Obama to keep the pressure on Congress to pass a climate bill. POSITIVE.

Could reconciliation work for the climate bill?, Washington Post (op-ed), 04/29/10. Columnist Ezra Klein: You could imagine some sort of two-bill strategy, but if you had the support for that, you'd have the support for lots of things. "In short," concludes Roberts, "reconciliation -- like Cantwell-Collins, like the carbon tax, like the energy-only bill, like so many others that have come and gone in this debate -- is another pony, gamboling just out of reach, enticing largely because it it's hypothetical, serving mostly to distract attention from the haggard pack horse that is, for all her faults and infirmities, the only ride we've really got." That horse, in case you're confused, is the Kerry-Lieberman-Graham bill. NEGATIVE.

Democrats to announce immigration reform plan, Reuters, 04/29/10. Senate Democratic leaders unveiled on Thursday an outline for overhauling the country's "broken" immigration system as protests mounted against Arizona's crackdown on illegal immigrants.  With an estimated 10.8 million people in the United States illegally, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and fellow Democrats said the first step toward reform must be bolstered U.S. border security.  NEUTRAL.

Democrats pledge to move toward 2010 vote on immigration reform, The Hill, 04/29/10. Senate Democratic leaders said Thursday they are serious about having a vote on immigration this year.  Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other Democrats made that pledge as they unveiled their outline of an immigration reform plan, which has been widely viewed as a political exercise to help Reid and other Democrats with Hispanic voters, a growing electoral bloc. NEUTRAL.

LOBBYING: Businesses push Reid to abandon immigration for climate , E & E Publishing, (see below), 04/29/10. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid(D-Nev.) is facing mounting pressure to abandon immigration reform and focus on climate legislation before the Senate stalls for midterm elections. Several electric utilities, including nuclear power giant Exelon and PG&E, joined more than 170 businesses to punctuate the importance of placing a price on carbon through a complex bill that is facing a political impasse. NEUTRAL.


Sierra Club memo: Beating Blanche is enviro "power play" UPDATED, Politico, 04/29/10. Politico has obtained an internal Sierra Club memo from the organization's national political director, Cathy Duvall, to the executive committee of the group's Arkansas chapter over whom to endorse in the Democratic Senate primary — the incumbent or Bill Halter, who has the backing of green groups and unions. NEUTRAL.

Legislation Provides Key Binding Targets, National Journal (op-ed), (see below), 04/29/10. Denise Bode: We have to make sure that Congress... This battle is far from over this year. The American people know that wind works for America and they want Congress to pass a comprehensive energy and climate bill now that includes a strong national Renewable Electricity Standard. Americans understand that a strong RES will mean new manufacturing jobs, less dependence on imported energy, and more pure, clean, affordable energy for our country. A recent national poll on this subject found that a majority of Americans -- 56% -- disapprove of the job Congress is doing on renewable energy and 67% believe Congress is not doing enough to increase renewable energy sources such as wind. Denise Bode  is CEO of American Wind Energy Association. POSITIVE.


Sen. Lindsey Graham: 'I care equally about immigration and climate change', Washington Post, 04/29/10. Yeah, I was asked a question. They said, "You would vote against your own bill?" And I said yes. I care equally about immigration and climate change. But if you stack them together this year you'll compromise climate and energy. You'll compromise my ability to get votes on climate change. When I told everyone I would do climate, in fact, I was assured we also wouldn't be doing immigration. NEUTRAL.

Is Graham Coming Back to the Climate Bill? To Find Out, Follow the Money . . ., Huffington Post, 04/29/10. Lindsey Graham's (R-SC) decision to abandon the climate bill he helped craft -- even going as far as saying he'll filibuster it himself now -- has been a dramatic turn in the legislation's saga. But there's at least one good reason to think he'll return to put his support behind the bill he spent months negotiating: the money. Reports have surfaced that Graham accepted a significant amount of cash from donors who would benefit by having carbon priced -- donors that he appears to have just left in the dust. NEUTRAL.

Is the Gulf Oil Spill Louisana's Next Katrina?, Fast Company, 04/29/10. The recent BP oil spill in the Gulf is, simply put, a disaster. If you haven't been keeping track of the ultra-depressing news, here's what's happening: A BP rig exploded, caught fire, and sank. An oil spill ensued. Federal officials estimate that 5,000 barrels of oil are leaking each day. But what's most worrying is that the growing oil slick is expected to make landfall on the Louisiana coast by Friday, with Alabama and Mississippi expected to have oil on their shores as well by Sunday. For the fragile Louisiana coast--home to 40% nation's wetlands--this could mean an ecological mess. NEUTRAL.

Markey calls Big Oil CEOS to testify as probes into Gulf of Mexico spill intensify, The Hill/E2Wire, 04/29/10. A senior House Democrat wants the CEOs of the country’s largest oil companies to testify on Capitol Hill, signaling increased political pressure on the industry following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the Democratic push for climate legislation.  Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) — a chief ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — is calling on top officials from ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, BP and Shell to appear before the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, which he leads. NEUTRAL.

Lawmaker seeks BP, other oil companies for hearing, Associated Press, 04/29/10. The chairman of a House committee has asked the heads of BP PLC and four other oil companies to testify at a hearing on the massive oil spill in the Gulf Coast.  Massachusetts Democrat Edward J. Markey, who chairs the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, sent a notice to the nation's five largest oil companies. In addition to the spill, the hearing will look at energy policy and gas prices.  NEUTRAL.

US Rep Markey: Has Notified Oil CEOs To Testify on Capitol Hill ..., Dow Jones, 04/29/10. The head of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming on Thursday notified the heads of the top five U.S. oil companies that they must soon appear before the panel as an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico spreads. NEUTRAL.

Florida Democrat seeks halt to offshore exploration, Reuters, 04/29/10. Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, citing the risk of a potential "environmental and economic disaster" from the Gulf oil spill, said on Thursday he was filing legislation to temporarily prohibit the Obama administrationfrom expanding U.S. offshore drilling. "Until we learn what happened, I'm asking that you also call for an immediate halt to test wells and all other exploratory operations in coastal waters," Nelson said in a letter to Obama released by his office. NEUTRAL.

Nelson Seeks To Block Expanded Offshore Drilling, National Journal (see below), 04/29/10. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., is introducing legislation that would block the administration from acting on its plans to expand offshore oil and natural gas drilling.  NEUTRAL.

Florida Democrat Seeks Offshore Oil Hiatus, New York Times/Dot Earth, 04/29/10. Senator Bill Nelson, the Florida Democrat, has drafted legislation that would suspend the Obama administration’s plan to move forward with offshore exploration and drilling for new oil deposits until a full investigation of the  Gulf of Mexico explosion and spill is completed and new protocols developed to prevent future accidents of this sort. This is probably only the beginning, given that the oil has yet to reach coasts. POSITIVE.

White House: Oil Spill Could Affect Drilling Plan, Associated Press, 04/29/10. The Obama administration said Thursday that the massive oil spill along the Gulf Coast will be considered in a planned expansion of offshore drilling and will become part of the debate on climate change in Congress.NEUTRAL.

White House defends offshore drilling plan, Reuters, 04/29/10. "The administration's offshore oil and gas plan proposes a thoughtful, scientifically grounded process for determining which new areas on the outer continental shelf are appropriate for exploration and development, and for assessing the potential risks and benefits of development in areas that are being explored," the White House said in a statement. NEGATIVE.

The Big Question: Should Obama reconsider drilling?, The Hill/E2Wire, 04/29/10. Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer insight into the biggest question burning up the blogosphere today. Comments from: Samuel Thernstrom, American Enterprise Institute;Frances Beinecke, Natural Resources Defense Council; Matthew Kotchen, environmental economist; David B. Burnett, Global Petroleum Research Institute; James H. Cowan, Jr., professor of oceanography;  Paul M. Bommer, petroleum engineer. NEUTRAL.

What the Spill Means for Offshore Drilling, New York Times/Room for Debate, 04/29/10. How should we balance the benefits of offshore drilling against the possible environmental damage? Are there technological advances that could be put in place? NEUTRAL.

BP Spill May Alter Obama's Offshore Drilling Plans, Bloomberg, 04/29/10. The worsening oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico may alter President Barack Obama’s five-year plan to open new areas to offshore oil and natural gas drilling, administration officials said today. “Obviously, what’s occurring now will also be taken into consideration as the administration looks to how to advance that plan and what makes sense and what might need to be adjusted,” said Carol Browner, Obama’s adviser for energy and climate change. “We need to learn from the incident.” NEUTRAL.

Spill could make for slippery politics on drilling, Associated Press, 04/29/10.  Obama remains committed to plans to expand offshore drilling in the Gulf Coast will be considered in a planned expansion of offshore drilling and will become part of the debate on climate change in the US Congress. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday that the cause of the oil rig explosion, still not determined, could affect what areas the government would open for future drilling. But Gibbs and other officials said President Barack Obama remains committed to plans to expand offshore drilling to areas that now are off limits. NEUTRAL.

Pelosi: Oil spill must be considered when judging Obama's drilling plan, The Hill/E2Wire, 04/29/10.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that a massive oil spill threatening the Louisiana coast must play a role in considering President Barack Obama's offshore drilling plan. Pelosi refused to endorse a ban on new exploration and drilling proposed by Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D) Thursday in the wake of the spill, but she said that the disaster -- which officials believe killed 11 people -- needs to be taken into account when weighing Obama's plan to expand offshore oil and gas leasing. NEUTRAL.

As Spill Drifts Toward Gulf Shores, Oil Companies Brace for Political Whirlwind, New York Times/Greenwire, 04/29/10. Images of oiled birds helped launch the environmental movement four decades ago after a massive spill off Santa Barbara. Twenty years later, photographs from Alaska's Prince William Sound after the 11 million gallon Exxon Valdez spill spurred a new generation of outrage. Officials in charge of the cleanup raised their estimate of the leak rate fivefold last night and have warned ominously of oil belching into the Gulf of Mexico from a mile below the surface for three months before the spill can be contained. As BP workers try setting fire to a section of the oil spill to burn off some of the crude, federal forecasters say it could be lapping up on the Mississippi Delta by tomorrow night (E&ENews PM, April 28). Federal officials won't predict beyond that but see no changes in the winds blowing the oil toward Louisiana. NEUTRAL.

NRDC Calls for a Time-Out on New Offshore Drilling Activities, Huffington Post, 04/29/10. Offshore oil drilling is dangerous work, as the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico reminds us.  Our hearts go out to the families of the victims who were lost in the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig. Unfortunately, this horror story grows more and more tragic every day.  As more than 200,000 gallons of oil per day spew into the ocean, an environmental disaster is unfolding before our eyes.  The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries estimates at least 400 species could be impacted by the oil spill, including a dozen, like the sperm whale, West Indian manatee, and Brown Pelican, that are listed under the Endangered Species Act.  The oil spill is expected to make landfall by this weekend. NEUTRAL.

Oil Disaster Could Clean Up Climate Bill, Scientific American, 04/29/10. Today, a Republican Senator joined with Democrats representing coastal states threatened by the massive oil spill in voicing continued alarms over including off-shore drilling in a climate and energy bill. As new reports reveal that the oil spill is now five times worse than estimated: “We need to move heaven and earth to stop this from becoming an environmental disaster.” said Florida’s Republican Senator, George LeMieux. POSITIVE.

Gas prices, BP, energy bill and more, Politico, 04/29/10. Refusing to say whether Americans should prepare for a spike in gas prices because of the leak, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs stressed that the oil rig was meant for “exploration” and not “production.” “It's not as if a known quantity of oil has been taken out of the market,” he said. NEUTRAL.

Obama intelligence briefing covers expanding oil spill threatening Louisiana  The Hill/E2Wire, 04/29/10. The spill has implications for climate change legislation and plans to expand offshore drilling. NEUTRAL.

Drilling Process Attracts Scrutiny in Rig Explosion, Wall Street Journal, 04/29/10.  The process is supposed to prevent oil and natural gas from escaping by filling gaps between the outside of the well pipe and the inside of the hole bored into the ocean floor. Cement, pumped down the well from the drilling rig, is also used to plug wells after they have been abandoned or when drilling has finished but production hasn't begun.  In the case of the Deepwater Horizon, workers had finished pumping cement to fill the space between the pipe and the sides of the hole and had begun temporarily plugging the well with cement; it isn't known whether they had completed the plugging process before the blast. NEUTRAL.


Oil Leak May be 5 Times Worse than Initial Claim, Associated Press, 04/29/10. A massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that has become far worse than initially thought crept toward the coast Thursday as government officials offered help from the military to prevent a disaster that could destroy fragile marshlands along the shore.  Speaking Thursday morning to CBS News, Doug Suttles, chief operating officer for BP PLC, which leased the sunken rig, backed away from his company's denial of Coast Guard claims a day earlier suggesting the five-fold jump, telling "Early Show" co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez, "we think the range has increased" to "somewhere between 1,000 and 5,000 barrels" per day. "In terms of our response, it actually doesn't change based on that number," Suttles said. NEUTRAL.

Obama: We'll use 'every single available resource' to contain oil slick, USA Today, 04/29/10. President Obama said his team would use "every single available resource" to contain the Gulf of Mexico oil slick, including dispatching teams from the Pentagon if necessary. NEUTRAL.

BP, Transocean Slump on Higher Spill Costs Concern (Update1), Bloomberg, 04/29/10. “The shares are taking a big hit because there’s no clarity about what’s going to happen,” said Frank Ingarra, a Stamford, Connecticut-based money manager at Hennessy Advisors Inc., which oversees about $1 billion. “We have no idea about how big the impact on earnings is going to be. In addition to that, the big picture issue is -- how will all that affect President Obama’s wanting to go forward with offshore drilling? Does that affect our energy policy? We don’t know.” NEUTRAL.

Oil spill: A containable accident, then suddenly a crisis, Associated Press, 04/29/10. Suddenly, everything changed. For days, as an oil spill spread in the Gulf of Mexico, BP assured the government the plume was manageable, not catastrophic. NEUTRAL.

Oil spill may threaten offshore drilling plans, CNNMoney, 04/29/10. The ever-growing oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico may threaten more than the environment. It will make it significantly harder to open up more coastal areas for oil drilling. The Gulf oil slick moved within 16 miles of the Mississippi River Delta on Thursday, placing residents from Louisiana to Florida on alert against the possibility of oily beaches, closed harbors and a decimated fishing catch. That makes President Obama's plan to increase offshore oil drilling a much harder sell. NEUTRAL.

Shipping, coast at risk from huge oil slick, Reuters, 04/29/10. A massive oil spill expected to hit the southern coast on Friday could affect petroleum shipments and delay plans to open up coastal waters to more drilling, government officials said on Thursday. NEUTRAL.

The Worst Oil Spills, Forbes, 04/29/10. The worst spill ever to hit the Gulf of Mexico, and the second-biggest of all time, was the 1980 blowout of the Ixtoc I exploratory well drilled in Mexican waters by Petroleos Mexicanos. It took nine months to cap, during which time the well spewed more than 3 million barrels into the gulf, or more than 10,000 barrels a day. Two months after the blowout, the oil started washing onto Texas shores. NEUTRAL.

How Will the Oil Spill Affect Wildlife?, FOX News, 04/29/10. A giant oil slick from last week's deadly offshore drilling rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico threatens wide-scale coastal damage for four states -- and could be a disaster for wildlife. The biggest concern over the effect the spill could have on fauna would be its effect on coastal wildlife. In a press conference Thursday, the EPA announced that the oil slick could reach shore Friday afternoon. And when it does, the oil will float and adhere to everything it comes in contact with, living or otherwise. NEUTRAL.

Navy Joins Oil Spill Fight, Wall Street Journal, 04/30/10. The government called in the Navy to help contain the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, as administration officials said Thursday the disaster could prompt President Barack Obama to rethink his plan to allow expanded offshore oil and gas drilling. Federal officials said the slick could make landfall as early as Friday evening. The spill could turn into one of the biggest in U.S. history. An estimated 5,000 barrels a day of oil are flowing from the well, and officials said it could take up to 90 days to cap it, making for volumes that could exceed the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska and a 1969 accident in Santa Barbara, Calif. NEUTRAL.

Starbucks, Levi's and eBay Want Their Climate Bill Back; They'd Better Brace ..., BNET, 04/29/10. Major U.S. businesses, including Starbucks(SBUX), Levi Strauss, Gap (GPS) , eBay (EBAY) and Nike (NKE) along with dozens of clean energy companies, have called for the Senate to do whatever it takes to revive the bill. And the tripartisan trio, clearly trying to buy some time for the climate bill, sent it to the EPA for analysis. It’s not an entirely desperate move, since the EPA has to review the bill before it goes to the Senate floor for debate anyway. POSITIVE.

Climate Change, Blue Jeans, and Jobs, Huffington Post, (op-ed), 04/29/10. Bob Fisher: Although the cost and consequences of climate change impact much more than business results, I believe companies can make a difference. As an individual, I'm personally passionate about this subject, but as a Director on the Boards of Gap Inc. as well as the Natural Resources Defense Council and Conservation International, I see the powerful role business can play in the effort to pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation. Together with leading companies such as Nike, The North Face, eBay, Best Buy, Starbucks, and many others, Gap Inc. understands that placing limits on greenhouse gas emissions and building a new clean energy economy is good for business and great for American workers. Fisher sits on Gap, Inc.’s Board. POSITIVE.

Ertel: Whatever Happened to Acid Rain?, Roll Call (op-ed), (see below), 04/29/10. As Senators hammer out the final details on their climate and energy bill, the push to forge compromise inevitably creates complexity. The bill could be a victim of too many cooks in the kitchen. The Senators would do well to pause and review the lessons from one environmental program that has been a simple, unequivocal success: the fight against acid rain.  Andrew O. Ertel is president and chief executive of Evolution Markets Inc., a provider of strategic financial and transactional services to participants in global environmental and energy markets. NEUTRAL.

The Wrong Way To Get to Green, Wall Street Journal, 04/30/10. "Power Hungry" unfolds as a brutal, brilliant exploration of this profoundly deluded quest, from fingers-in-the-ears "la-la-la-ing" at the mention of nuclear power to the illusion that we are rapidly running out of oil or that we can turn to biomass for salvation: Since it takes 10,000 tons of wood to produce one megawatt of electricity, for instance, the U.S. will be chopping down forests faster than it can grow them. NEGATIVE.

At 96, White House Correspondents' Association goes ecological, Politico, 04/30/10. But the 2,600 guests attending the event have been encouraged to take the Metro, carpool or walk, and the organization is offsetting 62 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, roughly equivalent to taking 14 cars off the road for a year or planting more than 18 acres of trees. That pales in comparison to recent undertakings, though, clocking in at just one-fifth the size of efforts to offset the emissions of last year’s Academy Awards.  POSITIVE.

Climate Policies Earn Cisco Top Spot in Greenpeace IT Rankings, New York Times/Greenwire, 04/29/10. The environmental group highlighted IT companies' rhetoric on climate change as well as their actions taken to reduce emissions. The group's 100-point scale gave up to 50 points for "climate solutions" and another 35 for lobbying and making public statements about climate change. The rest is made up by renewable energy use and setting companywide emissions targets. NEUTRAL.

Plan B: California Braces for Climate Change, Wired, 04/29/10. And so it goes with climate change. By the mid-2000s, when the rest of the country was waking up to the challenge of global warming, California was already pursing an aggressive program to assess the likely damage. According to thestate energy commission’s climate research, the U.S. west coast faces sea-level rise of 12 to 18 inches by 2050, and as much as nearly six feet by the turn of the century. Precipitation is projected to fall increasingly as water rather than snow, draining into the sea rather than lying in cold storage until the long, dry summers. Higher-than-average temperatures and more frequent extreme weather promise heat waves, wildfires, droughts and floods.NEUTRAL.

Cape Wind decision may take green power national, Grist, 04/29/10. The fight over Cape Wind isn't over yet -- the project still needs to obtain approval from other agencies, and opponents are likely to mount legal challenges.  But what struck me is that the Obama administration's move marks the emergence of an East Coast renewable energy industry that will help nationalize the transition to green power. To be sure, there are wind farms, solar installations, and biomass plants east of the Mississippi. But Big Green power has largely been a phenomenon of the West Coast and the Great Plains, regions rich in wind and sunshine. POSITIVE.

Labor likes prospect of new jobs from nuclear, The Hill, 04/29/10. While the Obama administration’s embrace of nuclear energy has angered some environmental groups, it has won solid support from the labor movement. Each new nuclear reactor built could create hundreds of jobs for electrical engineers, pipe-fitters and construction workers. Based on industry statistics, most of those jobs will be union jobs, offering labor a way to boost membership rolls after years of decline. NEUTRAL.

A beef with food vendors at the Earth Day rally, Washington Post, 04/29/10. The animal industry pollutes the land, air and water; creates water shortages; devastates forests; uses too many chemicals; and reduces biodiversity, not to mention treating animals inhumanely. It’s a pretty simple message: Eat less meat. It helps saves the environment. For next year’s Earth Day events, unless they have some different food vendors, I’m packing my own lunch. NEUTRAL.

Late spring bursting with pollen, fueling misery, MSNBC Health, 04/29/10. The culprit for this year's bumper crop of pollen is the weather, according to Portnoy. Temperatures stayed cool throughout February and March, preventing flowering trees from beginning their annual pollination ritual. Instead of a gradual, species-by-species release of pollen, the trees stored up until the weather got balmy. Then they all released at once. NEUTRAL.

Germany, Mexico hosting meeting of 45 nations in Bonn to push talks on climate deal ahead, Associated Press, 04/30/10. Five months after the troubled United Nations conference in Copenhagen, Germany and Mexico are teaming up in an effort to break the deadlock in negotiations on a global climate deal. They will co-host a three-day meeting in Bonn starting Sunday of representatives from a selected 45 countries with hopes of building trust and clearing some of the rubble left from Copenhagen, German Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen said this week. NEUTRAL.

Q&A: Vying for a Role as Climate Chief, New York Times/Green, 04/29/10. Still, if finding global consensus on climate change is a frustrating affair, that reality has not discouraged several hopefuls who are now angling for the top climate job. Conventional wisdom has the successor to Mr. de Boer, a Dutchman, being chosen from a developing country this time, and several of the reported candidates fit into that category — among them Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica. Recently Ms. Figueres, a 15-year veteran of the global climate negotiations, stopped by The New York Times to chat about the job and the state of the climate talks as delegates hurtle toward yet another major meeting — this time in CancĂșn, Mexico — at the end of the year.NEUTRAL.

Russian PM Putin orders Arctic cleanup, Reuters, 04/29/10. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has ordered that a million abandoned barrels of Soviet-era fuel be removed from the Arctic because they are polluting the environment.  NEUTRAL.

Despite Global Action, Biodiversity Is Declining, Time, 04/29/10. In 2002, environment ministers from around the world gathered in The Hague for a major summit on the Convention on Biological Diversity — an international treaty designed to protect the world's plants, forests and wildlife. With rainforests being clear-cut in tropical countries, endangered species nearing extinction around the world, and the seas steadily being fished out, the ministers agreed it was time to take action. In a declaration, they vowed to "strengthen our efforts to put in place measures to halt biodiversity loss, which is taking place at an alarming rate...by the year 2010." NEUTRAL.

World leaders have failed to stem biodiversity loss: study, AFP, 04/29/10. World leaders have fallen short on a pledge to stem biodiversity loss and have instead allowed alarming declines in species populations, habitat conditions and other indicators, a study showed Thursday Researchers looked at 31 indicators with global data covering the period 1970 to 2005, to gauge progress on achieving a goal set by world leaders in 2002 to significantly reduce the rate of biodiversity loss. NEUTRAL.


Climate Impasse Won't Stop Regulations
INDUSTRY IS BRACING FOR AN AVALANCHE OF NEW ENVIRONMENTAL RULES.
NATIONAL JOURNAL
by Margaret Kriz Hobson
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Climate change will be the dominant environmental issue in Washington for the rest of 2010, whether or not Congress adopts legislation to control green-house-gas emissions.
Last weekend, Senate efforts to pass an energy and climate-change bill hit a wall when Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., withdrew his support for the proposal that he had spent months crafting with Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn. In a letter to supporters of the broad goals of the legislation, Graham said he was stepping away because of "what appears to be a decision by the Obama administration and Senate Democratic leadership to move immigration instead of energy." Graham asserted, "I will not allow our hard work to be rolled out in a manner that has no chance of success."
Once Graham bailed, Kerry and Lieberman canceled the April 26 unveiling of their package, further diminishing the chances that climate legislation will become law this year. Nevertheless, Lieberman says he is confident that Graham will come back on board eventually and that the measure will finally make its long-awaited debut.
If a climate bill does reach President Obama's desk, it would probably strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions and would also block state action. EPA is already working toward issuing regulations next year to curb greenhouse-gas emissions from cars and trucks, and it is planning to limit emissions from the nation's largest corporate polluters as well.
Should the current legislative standoff continue, Republican senators and their conservative Democratic counterparts will attempt to block EPA in other ways. The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that EPA has the power under the Clean Air Act to regulate global-warming pollution -- provided that the agency finds that such pollution endangers human health and the environment. In December, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson formally issued the required "endangerment finding." Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has introduced a bill to override that decision. On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., has introduced legislation to impose a two-year moratorium on EPA's power to control greenhouse-gas pollution from manufacturers or power companies.
To be sure, climate-change regulations are far from the only EPA mandates that worry corporate America. Industry officials say they are bracing for the Obama administration to issue an avalanche of rules aimed at controlling industrial pollutants. Federal regulators are drafting proposals that would tighten pollution controls on coal-fired power plants and mountaintop mining. EPA is writing tougher health standards for ozone and soot in urban regions, regulations that could force some state and local governments to impose stricter pollution controls on businesses.
Business lobbyists charge that environmental controls in the executive branch pipeline amount to a "regulatory assault" on industry. At an April congressional hearing, Ohio Coal Association President Mike Carey argued, "Through a diverse set of new rules improperly promulgated using the Clean Air Act and other statutes, the domestic coal industry is facing challenges that make it nearly impossible to see a successful domestic future." John McManus, the environmental services vice president at American Electric Power, said at a March hearing that the potential cost of proposed regulations "is raising concern about the economic viability of a large number of coal-fired units, as well as potential impacts to the [electric power] grid reliability. And this is without consideration of the impact of legislation or regulation to limit carbon emissions."
Jackson counters that her agency's actions will be good for the national economy in the long run. In a March speech at the National Press Club, she argued against the "misconception that we must make a choice between cleaning up our environment and growing our economy." She said, "The laissez-faire and anti-government crowd must understand that ever-expanding economic opportunity is not possible without [environmental] sustainability. Without protection for the water, air, and land that people depend on, we can only go so far."
Stricter Requirements
The EPA's endangerment finding was its first step on the long road toward regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. In April, the administration completed standards requiring car and truck manufacturers to produce more-efficient vehicles. Those rules will impose the nation's first federal greenhouse-gas emissions limits next year.
Now the agency is working on rules that would control greenhouse gases from power companies and manufacturers. Jackson has indicated that those controls, expected to be proposed in the near future, will require greenhouse-gas emission cuts that would begin in 2011 and be phased in over several years.
At the same time, the agency is considering whether to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions under the Clean Water Act, after agreeing to study climate-related water pollution in a March settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity. A recent report from the National Research Council, part of the National Academies, concluded that global warming is changing the chemistry of seawater, making oceans more acidic and interfering with the ability of marine life to build reefs, skeletons, and protective shells. The settlement gave the agency a November 15 deadline for deciding how to tackle the problem.
The administration plans to issue a host of additional environmental controls to address other pollution problems. EPA, for example, is working on a proposed rule aimed at reducing the sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from coal-fired power plants in the Midwest that are linked to the smog and soot in the Northeast. The agency is rewriting the Clean Air Interstate Rule because a 2008 Appeals Court ruling on a Duke Energy lawsuit tossed out the Bush administration's regulations. The proposed revisions are due in the coming weeks, with final regs planned for early 2011.
Bush-era regulations controlling power-plant emissions of mercury through a cap-and-trade program were also overturned in 2008 when a federal court decreed that the Clean Air Act did not authorize the administration to take that approach. Obama's EPA is developing a new mercury-control program that would identify the best technologies for reducing emissions of mercury and 200 other hazardous air pollutants. In researching how to proceed, the agency has asked the electricity industry to provide data on a wide variety of coal-fired power plants.
The court gave EPA until March 2011 to propose a new mercury-control regime. John Kinsman, senior director for environment at the Edison Electric Institute, said that EPA's rapid timetable for completing the massive information-gathering effort and writing the proposal "is really pushing it." Mercury exposure, which most often occurs when people eat fish from contaminated waters, can cause severe neurological damage, especially in young children and fetuses.
On another front, the Obama administration is setting tougher health standards for soot and ozone under a program that requires federal regulators to set national safety standards and obliges states to oversee compliance. EPA issued a proposed ozone standard in January and is expected to release its final rules in August. A proposed tougher standard for soot is due in November. Stricter soot and ozone requirements will likely force "the vast majority of states" to impose more-stringent air-pollution regulations, Kinsman said.
Ozone, which is a major component of smog, causes or exacerbates respiratory illnesses and heart problems. Smog is created when pollution from coal-fired power plants, vehicles, and manufacturing and from paints, solvents, and cleaners mixes in the presence of sunlight. Soot, or fine particulates, can lodge deep within the lungs, causing asthma, bronchitis, and heart problems. Fine particulates come from cars and power plants that burn fossil fuels, from industrial processes, and from wood burning.
The administration is also aiming at several other environmental targets.
 Coal ash. In 2008, a Kentucky coal ash pond operated by the Tennessee Valley burst during a flood, causing chemical-laden sludge to pour into waterways. Since then, EPA has been crafting rules designed to reduce the pollution associated with coal mining. In the coming weeks, the agency is expected to release proposed regulations, which are likely to prohibit utility companies from storing coal ash in wet holding areas.
 Mountaintop mining. EPA and the Interior Department are separately developing new mandates to limit water pollution from the strip-mining techniques that remove the tops of mountains. In April, the agency released guidelines for pollutants that run off into streams and rivers. The guidelines are open for public comment until December. Meanwhile, Interior's rules would impose even tougher stream-protection requirements on mining companies and require firms to restore dynamited areas to their original contours.
 Natural-gas extraction from shale. EPA scientists are studying whether new methods of extracting natural gas from underground rock formations contaminate water supplies. The technology, called hydraulic fracturing, forcefully shoots chemical-laced liquids into rock miles beneath the surface. Proponents say that this "fracking" can tap massive amounts of otherwise inaccessible natural gas from beneath the Northeastern states.
Veterans Push Trio Bill Despite Stalemate
National Journal
Amy Harder 
Thursday, April 29, 2010 1:00 PM
More than 30 retired military generals and admirals are in Washington this week pushing Congress and the administration to pass the Senate trio's "American Power Act," despite the fact that the bill has not yet been introduced.
Jonathan Powers, COO of the Truman National Security Project, said at a press conference this morning that the national security challenges posed by inaction on climate legislation -- including U.S. dependence on foreign oil and global instability caused by climate change -- will help restart the stalled negotiations. "We believe that will be one of the driving factors that continues to get this moving," Powers said. He dismissed the notion that the current stalemate caused by Sen. Lindsey Graham's frustration over immigration will doom the bill, arguing that the South Carolina Republican "gets" the national security threats of inaction on climate policy. Indeed, Graham has continually cited the country's dependence on Middle Eastern oil as grounds to pass the bill that he and Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, I/D-Conn., have crafted.
The Truman National Security Project's Operation Free, a veterans' coalition launched last summer, held meetings with Kerry earlier this week and is meeting with White House energy and climate adviser Carol Browner today. That meeting will also include staff from the National Security Council, Operation Free spokesman David Solimini said. The group plans to meet with several senators as well, including Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., Patty Murray, D-Wash., and George LeMieux, R-Fla. -- but not with Graham, Solimini said. The group is also sending a letter to Senate leadership urging them to act on climate legislation.
Powers said the only major requirement the veterans have for a bill is a "strong cap on carbon," which the trio's bill was expected to have in some form or another. As for other climate legislation, like the bill sponsored by Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, which also has a price on greenhouse gas emissions, Powers was noncommittal. "Cantwell-Collins could be another option down the road," Powers said. "We should drive the American Power Act first."

LOBBYING: Businesses push Reid to abandon immigration for climate (04/29/2010)

Evan Lehmann, E&E reporter
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is facing mounting pressure to abandon immigration reform and focus on climate legislation before the Senate stalls for midterm elections.
Several electric utilities, including nuclear power giant Exelon and PG&E, joined more than 170 businesses to punctuate the importance of placing a price on carbon through a complex bill that is facing a political impasse.
"Every day the Senate fails to pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation is a day our economy falls another step behind and delays our ability to create millions of new American jobs," the businesses said yesterday in an open letter to Reid. "Now is the time to bring the parties together and finish what we started."
Plans to unveil the climate bill derailed last weekend when Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the bill's Republican sponsor, fled the plan based on Reid's aspirations to pursue immigration reform before the fall elections. Graham, a rare Republican in support of overhauling the nation's immigration system and putting a price on carbon emissions, says only one of those major initiatives can be debated during the shrinking Senate schedule.
Reid disagrees, however, and appears to be pressing ahead with plans to test the water on immigration later this summer -- after climate legislation. Graham insists that immigration must be abandoned before he will rejoin the climate effort with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).
The businesses that drafted the letter seem to agree. Their pressure coincides with similar efforts by environmental and veterans' groups that are trying to regain momentum on the climate front before competing legislative initiatives take the lead.

Some companies press for certainty

"I'm hoping that Senator Reid pushes back immigration," said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, a group of institutional investors that helped organize the business letter. "If it's not ready, and the climate bill is ready, and Senator Graham could get back on board, that's what needs to happen."
"They are tired of living in this world of maybe there's going to be a price on carbon, maybe not," she added, referring to companies like Nike, eBay and FPL Group. "Business leaders like certainty and a level playing field."
A Reid spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
The intersection between climate and immigration comes as political hostility rises in the Senate. Republicans blocked efforts repeatedly this week to debate legislation overhauling regulations on financial firms.
Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, a moderate Republican whose vote would be crucial to the passage of a climate bill, warned that Democrats are moving too swiftly on complex pieces of legislation.
"How we build support for major initiatives takes time," she said in a brief interview this week. "Now they want to do it at lightning speed and nanoseconds."


 Legislation Provides Key Binding Targets
NATIONAL JOURNAL
By Denise Bode, CEO, American Wind Energy Association



This battle is far from over this year. The American people know that wind works for America and they want Congress to pass a comprehensive energy and climate bill now that includes a strong national Renewable Electricity Standard. Americans understand that a strong RES will mean new manufacturing jobs, less dependence on imported energy, and more pure, clean, affordable energy for our country. A recent national poll on this subject found that a majority of Americans -- 56% -- disapprove of the job Congress is doing on renewable energy and 67% believe Congress is not doing enough to increase renewable energy sources such as wind.
A substantial majority of Americans -- 82% -- believe the nation’s economy would be stronger (52%) or the same (30%) if we used more renewable energy sources like wind.
A substantial majority of Americans -- 77% -- support a national Renewable Electricity Standard. This support extends across party lines--65% of Republicans, 69% of Independents, 92% of Democrats.
We have to make sure that Congress gets this message and acts this year. The U.S. wind industry is in a very competitive situation. We are growing, but we’re competing against countries with binding renewable targets. If we are to keep up, we need to commit to long-term sustainable and predictable policies.

Nelson Seeks To Block Expanded Offshore Drilling
National Journal
Amy Harder 
Thursday, April 29, 2010 3:17 PM
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., is introducing legislation that would block the administration from acting on its plans to expand offshore oil and natural gas drilling.
In a letter to President Obama, Nelson writes that the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and subsequent leak in the Gulf of Mexico requires the administration to "postpone indefinitely plans for expanded offshore drilling operations." The letter, dated today, also calls for an "immediate halt to test wells and all other exploratory operations in coastal waters." He adds that it isn't "intended to affect producing wells."
Nelson, a longtime critic of offshore drilling, asked the Interior Department to investigate the disaster last Thursday, two days after the rig, operated by BP, exploded in the gulf. This letter comes on the heels of another letter by members of the Florida House delegation that asks the president to "reconsider" his plans to expand drilling to the eastern Gulf of Mexico, the area closest to the Florida coast.

Ertel: Whatever Happened to Acid Rain?
By Andrew O. Ertel 
Special to Roll Call
April 29, 2010, 10:59 a.m.
As Senators hammer out the final details on their climate and energy bill, the push to forge compromise inevitably creates complexity. The bill could be a victim of too many cooks in the kitchen. The Senators would do well to pause and review the lessons from one environmental program that has been a simple, unequivocal success: the fight against acid rain.
We used to hear a lot about acid rain and the damage that it was causing in the mountains of the Northeast. The sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants in the industrial heartland were destroying trees in the Adirondack Mountains, threatening fish stocks, endangering wildlife and hurting the economy.
Why don’t we hear about acid rain anymore? Because it’s no longer the serious problem that it once was. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Environmental Protection Agency-devised cap-and-trade program. Since that time, SO2 emissions have dropped 40 percent. And according to the Pacific Research Institute, acid rain levels have dropped 65 percent since 1976. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation announced this month that acid rain levels have dropped in all 48 Adirondack lakes that were monitored on a long-term basis and that moose, bald eagles and peregrine falcons have returned. Most importantly, the program has seen almost 100 percent compliance and no instances of fraud.
It worked because the government established clear incentives and relied on an open market to motivate investment. Rather than directly penalizing utilities for their emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, the EPA established declining annual emission caps and allowed market participants to trade the rights to emit these gases. Those companies that could cost-effectively cut their emissions did so and sold their surplus emission rights to others in the market. The SO2 market helped the industry cut its emissions far faster than expected and at a small fraction of initial cost estimates. It is worth noting that 97 percent of the SO2 emission allowances were created and allocated to market participants for free.
The market for greenhouse gas emissions is obviously a far larger one, but the same incentives put in place in the acid rain program can also be effectively implemented with a carbon trading market.
The issue of climate change and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels — particularly foreign oil — will always produce heated debate. Not surprisingly, the most widely supported plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions — a market-based cap-and-trade system — has become a prime target for opponents of climate change legislation. Such a system is too complicated, they say. It is too costly and too big a burden for our struggling economy to bear. Given all the political heat, the very phrase “cap-and-trade” is now being abandoned even by staunch supporters of market-based solutions to climate change.
By whatever name, however, market-based solutions remain our best option for reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and limiting greenhouse gas emissions, and they should remain the core of any forward-looking energy plan. The most important element of the plan is putting a price on carbon. The debate should revolve around how best to do that.
Businesspeople manage what they can measure. And once a price is put on the right to emit carbon, businesses will strive mightily to reduce their emissions for one very powerful reason: It will save them money.
Carbon markets also have the capability of stimulating investment in green technologies while lowering the cost of compliance with emission regulations across the economy. The legislation envisioned by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) will create new jobs, and the underlying trading market will be a driver. And, unlike the blunt instruments of government taxes and regulatory fines, a cap-and-trade system enables the market to determine the most effective and least costly ways to accomplish environmental goals.
The fact is it works.
The pundits have written off cap-and-trade as the energy policy of choice. We heard similar calls 20 years ago during debate on acid rain that cap-and-trade would devastate our economy. Industry got behind it, leveraged the program’s flexibility and made a difference in protecting our environment. Taking a similar approach on climate change will not only address the environmental challenges, but lead us toward energy independence, a more efficient economy and the creation of new jobs.
Andrew O. Ertel is president and chief executive of Evolution Markets Inc., a provider of strategic financial and transactional services to participants in global environmental and energy markets. He has been involved in emissions trading since 1995.