My interview on E&E TV about energy & climate in the Obama administration

As President-elect Obama begins the transition to the White House, what are his plans for addressing climate during his first 100 days in office? During today’s OnPoint, Joseph Romm, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and a former Clinton energy official, discusses the prospects for climate legislation in 2009 and the importance of early action from the new administration. Romm talks about some potential appointees for positions within the Obama administration and explains how the shift in power may affect K Street lobbyists.

Video here. Transcript here.

4 Responses to My interview on E&E TV about energy & climate in the Obama administration

  1. Modesty says:

    Do you think Larry Summers understands the concept of the new energy economy and the government’s role in bringing it about?

    [JR: I’m not sure. I’ll blog on this if he is chosen.]

  2. Jim Bullis says:

    I urge that government procede carefully on cap and trade, since it seems inevitable that it will be soon reflected in utility bills in a very significant way.

    I also urge that government policies mandating renewables be carefully considered, such that strict rules not be set that force implementation of technologies that are not quite here yet, or that are not quite so effective as their promoters would have us believe.

    There are ways to accomplish the goal of dramatic CO2 reduction without setting up a serious public backlash. I offer true high efficiency vehicles and distributed cogeneration, along with truck system modifications, which could well get the job done. I have posted some discussions on these here (see under the Earl Killian article on the Pickens plan and click my name above to see more)

    Public support is required if there is to be a real solution.

  3. David Lewis says:

    I’ve been studying your line about Hansen and 350 ppm this morning. As the posts were old I thought I’d examine what you’d say in a forum you thought was big. Whatever. I read the transcript of the video. I’ve put my conclusion right in the first paragraph so you can tune me out if you’ve heard it all before:

    Find a way to talk about the problem that assumes that Obama is intelligent enough to understand the science, that assumes he wants to see civilization survive, that takes into account he is but one power in a system that has checks and balances, that can still describe the whole picture as you yourself see it. You’ve failed on all counts in this interview. You haven’t conveyed that you believe civilization is not going to make it, you did not mention that there might even be a difference between Obama’s stated plan and a solution, and you’ve framed the issue as one that Obama can either solve or he should be thrown out.

    The first thing the interviewer asks you is what should Obama do about climate. Do you take this opportunity to mention any target he should aim for organizing the international community to take on? No.

    Do you mention what target the US should adopt in line with whatever international target you won’t mention? No. Any mention of what Obama’s policy might add up to in the way of meeting any target? No.

    Do you bring up the fact that there is some controversy in the scientific community about what the “best science” is, i.e. Hansen is saying 325 – 350 ppm, and everyone else is talking something like 450 ppm? No. Do you mention that people might want to take this issue seriously because if the best climatologist on the planet is right, you think it is impossible to solve, and by the time an issue this big is looking this grave people wondering what the President should do who listen to you ought to hear a bit more than the President should take some serious steps to implement his inadequate plan that fits into no known viable long term target whether thats 450 ppm or 350 ppm.

    You know what Bernanke said when he was talking to Congress about the bailout plan? You can either do this or the US will not have an economy.

    What is that concerns you? If you speak openly about what you believe when the spotlight is on they won’t let you on the circuit to fly around saving the planet any more? They won’t put you on the televised interviews where you can see if you can “make a difference” seeing if a completely inadequate plan can be beefed up into a teeny tiny bit more adequate of a completely inadequate plan?

    What is this? You say: “the biggest impediment to U.S. action on climate, domestically and internationally, has been the president”. If you say so.

    You should talk to Obama. I’d bet he understands that climate is a problem. Now you’re going to find out what the impediment has been all along. Take a look at any poll that surveys who thinks climate is such an urgent issue that decisive action must be taken now. The American people are the biggest problem.

    This observation you give voice to, that the President can solve this problem, is shared by many who will be those who will be bringing Obama down very soon because they will be so disappointed when they find out the biggest impediment to political action for any President is if the American people aren’t ready to take a problem on. Think about FDR before Japan attacked Pearl Harbour. Or study up.

    After that, you go on about nuts and bolts. Because you’ve not questioned or brought up any overall target US action or international action has to fit into to be meaningful at all, you’re just another shove it along a bit further, this is the best we can do, gibberish peddler who is not talking in language anyone outside your particular circle inside the Beltway can understand very much of.

    You implicitly accept that Obama even has a plan that is some kind of solution, when you clearly do not believe that it is. Eg:

    “He has talked about spending $15 billion a year on clean energy. He’s talked about creating 5 million jobs. That’s going to require strong government action.”

    You at no point in the interview state that this is a tiny band aid, that even though this should be supported especially after the great darkness of the Bush years, you are afraid to mention that this issue can’t even be solved according to you, if Hansen is correct. Now maybe I’m not getting it. You’ve written as if you hope the best climatologist on Earth is wrong because if we have to do what he says, i.e. 350 pp.m it is impossible. 450 ppm is barely achievable, according to you.

    Where does a $15 billion a year action plan really fit into the scale of action you see as required in order to meet 450 ppm? Do you understand that the US federal budget is in excess of $3 trillion dollars? Were you asleep during the last month or so when civilization realized it faced a serious problem, ie financial meltdown and it came up with $trillions to throw into the breach at the drop of a hat?

    If you think $15 billion really is realistic, please get off the airwaves and hide somewhere. You’re just putting everyone to sleep who needs to be woken up.

  4. red says:

    I don’t know if you still have contact with Bill Richardson, but if you do let him know that some of us want him to stay where he is and get the New Mexico commercial spaceport built and used. What he’s doing there is important, as it helps give us a chance to get efficient, reusable, and cost-effective suborbital vehicles, and eventually orbital ones, operating. The current media and science community perception is that this is mainly an economic and tourist type of effort, but that’s not the case at all. Ultimately Richardson’s NM spaceport, if it succeeds, should enable new and useful applications and businesses in all sorts of fields – health, education, economy, and yes, environment and energy among others. Radically lower launch costs would eventually enable radically lower satellite construction and operation costs, helping enable many new applications as well as improving traditional ones like satellite environment monitoring, satellite wind mapping, comsat telecommunications allowing telecommuting, magnetosphere space “weather” monitoring to protect energy grids, any many others. It’s too bad Richardson only saw a small crowd at the recent rocket event in Las Cruces, but hopefully he knows that’s only because it wasn’t open to the public. Lots of us were watching from a distance.

    There’s also speculation of Oberstar becoming Transportation Secretary. Historically he’s been opposed to such efforts on safety grounds – he wants the new first-generation suborbital rockets to be as safe as commercial air transport to crew and passengers (current rules only require that for the non-involved public). That’s impossible so it would kill the industry before it exists (the passengers being the big initial users in many cases), and remove the chance of lower launch costs and thus (since noone else like NASA, NOAA, DOD, or Big Aerospace is even trying for lower launch costs) kill those cheap energy and environment applications before they exist. It’s also an absurd hurdle for this new industry, whose initial passengers will know they’re using essentially experimental vehicles. They’ll be thrill seekers accustomed to and knowledgeable of such risks, or space advocates who are familiar with the broader implications of the industry and congnizant of the implications. Hopefully if Oberstar gets that job someone like Richardson can let him understand the context.