Energy and Global Warming News for April 23 — The first benefits of RGGI

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While conservatives try to block energy and climate action in Washington, people in New York City and Boston are beginning to reap the benefits of a greener economy. In New York, Mayor Bloomberg’s office is proposing new efficiency standards for thousands of city buildings. The initiative would stimulate the city’s economy with almost $3 billion in private investment and create 2,000 green jobs by 2022.

Boston is benefiting from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the northeast’s cap-and-trade program. Money is pouring in””$262 million for just 3 months of auctions””to state coffers, which fund job-training programs. Unemployed Bostonians are already training for high-paying jobs that will put them back to work, weatherizing the city’s buildings. This is exactly what a cap-and-trade system is designed to do: raise funds by putting a price on pollution, create green jobs with these funds, and use the new employment to increase energy efficiency. It’s brilliant! Now if only conservatives would take note.

First fruits of cap-and-trade

Some of the first workers on energy efficiency programs are now hitting the streets with salaries paid by the proceeds of the cap-and-trade program started by 10 Northeast States.

The cap-and-trade program, called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, is intended to force power producers in the northeastern states to cut greenhouse gas pollution by requiring them to buy allowances, which will shrink annually, to offset their emissions.

The first auctions of carbon dioxide allowances held in September, December and March produced $262 million for the programs, just the beginning of a steady stream of funds being funneled to the 10 participating states.

The states, in turn, have started distributing grants to utilities and organizations that will run the programs, which  have started hiring contractors like CSG to do the actual work.

City Plans to Make Older Buildings Refit to Save Energy

Elected leaders in New York City will propose a suite of laws and other initiatives on Wednesday aimed at reducing energy consumption and related emissions of greenhouse gases by requiring owners of thousands of older buildings to upgrade everything from boilers to light bulbs.

Planners asserted that the package, drafted by the offices of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, would result in $2.9 billion in private investment in building improvements by 2022 and generate 2,000 new jobs in energy auditing and related fields as well as thousands of temporary construction jobs.

E&E Daily (Subs. Req’d)

Democrats still searching for winning formula of cap-and-trade credits

Democratic leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are scrambling to fill in the critical missing details of climate change legislation and determine how to distribute the cap-and-trade program’s valuable emission credits.

Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) purposefully left blank the section of their bill on allowances and auctions. But as they gear up for a contentious subcommittee markup next week, the lawmakers are facing growing pressure from Republicans, as well as within their own ranks, to start spelling out specifics.

“The biggest gap is what are we doing about the allowances,” Utah Rep. Jim Matheson, one of the critical Democratic swing votes on the subcommittee, said earlier this week. “How do you do a markup when you don’t even have that information on paper yet?”

A new version of the Waxman-Markey bill — with allowance language — is expected before the Energy and Environment Subcommittee markup begins, though the two chairmen have not given any firm schedule on when that will be.

Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), another important swing vote, said yesterday that he hopes to see the new legislation by the weekend. Others describe a work in progress, with changes possible all the way up until the markup.

“It’s a matter of trying to piece together the stuff as we go forward,” said Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.). “I’ve got some ideas that came from people in certain industries that have not filled in all the blanks yet. It’s not a mystery to me. It’s a matter of finding out what we need to do and put it in and make things work.”

Waxman and Markey have won praise from some committee Democrats for avoiding a take-it-or-leave-it scenario on the emission allocations, which likely will be worth more than a trillion dollars over the multi-decade lifetime of the environmental program.

Boxer creates EPW ‘working groups’ to build support for global warming bill

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) took her first tactical step on climate legislation for 2009 yesterday by establishing five groups tasked with working through the details of a global warming bill, as well as outreach to other senators.

Boxer tapped all of the Democrats on her committee to work on the key areas.

Barton plans cap-and-trade alternative

House Republicans are predicting the Democrats’ failure on a major global warming and energy bill — and they are writing an alternative for when it comes to that.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, is drafting a bill that would set mandatory performance standards for new electric utilities that would lead to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

“Right now, we’re waiting to have that epiphany moment on the Democratic side that they don’t have the votes for cap and trade in this committee,” Barton told reporters. “And when that happens, you’re going to have a lot of people looking at the Republican alternative, and we’re very open to working with those members to craft exactly what they need, so that if it comes to a vote, we have the votes to win in committee.”

Barton said the legislation would expand a command-and-control provision in the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments by placing standards on new power plants so that they could release a set amount of carbon dioxide based on energy output. If companies beat the limits, they would then get to accelerate the depreciation from the new plant and any equipment put into the plant.

The bill’s limits would include financial penalties for noncompliance, and also would strip U.S. EPA of its ability to regulate for greenhouse gases under the April 2007 Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. EPA.

I have three letters for Barton:  DOA.

Administration Stops Short of Endorsing Climate Bill

Obama administration officials said Wednesday that an ambitious energy and climate-change proposal sponsored by House Democrats could help create jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but they stopped short of endorsing it.

Steven Chu, the secretary of energy, and Lisa P. Jackson, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, told a House committee considering the measure that they believed it could help accomplish President Obama’s goals of moderating climate change, spurring clean-energy technology and reducing dependence on foreign oil.

Cities Mull How to Sell ‘Green’ Agendas

City officials, urban planners, architects and a variety of advocacy groups gathered in Portland, Ore., over the weekend for the National League of Cities’ first conference devoted entirely to sustainability.

Prominent among the bits of advice being doled out to city leaders at the conference: ditch the climate-change talk and focus instead on the more concrete benefits of a green agenda.

Group ups pressure to pass energy bill

An environmental group is increasing the pressure to pass a sweeping environmental measure by taking out ads in the home districts of Republicans who oppose the bill.

The League of Conservation Voters will advertise in the Michigan district of Republican Rep. Mike Rogers starting Friday, officials at the group said. It will be the second in a series of ads accusing members who oppose the legislation of lacking faith in America. The previous ad attacked Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).

Offshore Wind Gets Major Boost

Just in time for Earth Day, the administration has issued a long-awaited set of rules that will significantly boost the development of offshore wind farms along the nation’s coastlines.

The regulations for the government to lease offshore acreage for wind and wave power (PDF) had been highly anticipated since Congress passed the 2005 energy bill. They will provide the main framework to develop offshore wind by giving the lead authority to the Minerals Management Service, the federal agency also in charge of offshore oil and gas development.

Dust Storms Escalate, Prompting Environmental Fears

The Colorado Rockies, including the headwaters of the Colorado River and the Rio Grande, have experienced 11 serious dust storms this year, a record for the six years researchers have been tracking them.

More important, an increasing amount of airborne dust is blanketing the region, affecting how fast the snowpack melts, when local plants bloom and what quality of air residents are breathing.


Bill McKibben on Building A Climate Action Movement

In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Bill McKibben explains why he’s now focused on organizing a citizens movement around climate change “” and why he believes this effort is critical for spurring world leaders into action.

Compiled by Carlin Rosengarten

11 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for April 23 — The first benefits of RGGI

  1. Harrier says:

    Here’s some heartening news for me as a Texan:

    It turns out that Texas has the greatest solar potential of any state. A study just released says that the entire state could be powered by solar energy.

  2. B Buckner says:

    No mention of the costs of RGGI, only the benefits of bureaucrats dolling out our money. The cost is our electricity is $262 million more expensive than it would have been. Where I live in Maine, RGGI almost exclusively applies to gas cogeneration facilities at paper mills. These plants are highly efficient in that the electricity is produced as a by-product of an industrial process that would be burning the fuel anyway. And RGGI is intended to regulate these facilities out of existance. Great program, one that was instituted without debate by the legislatures or citizens.

  3. Steve S says:

    The financial benefits of auctioning permits and then using the money for efficiency is huge. If a rebate returns $1 for every dollar invested, state energy programs generally return $3 to $4. That creates a real revenue stream at the state level to then put back into homes and businesses for efficiency retrofits, just as it’s described in MA above. The Feds need to include this in their bill, too.

  4. paulm says:

    Lovelock, always worth listening to…

    James Lovelock on how to save Gaia

    In an interview with Nature, he defends his forthcoming trip into space, and suggests that the technology for reversing climate change may be within our grasp

  5. Sasparilla says:

    Something nice out of the UK – No new Coal Plants without CCS!

    Finally someone has done this, lets hope they stick with it!

  6. Will Greene says:

    I want to know when Senator Boxer’s going to run for president. Love that lady.

  7. Sasparilla says:

    I should comment on my prior post, as George Manbiot states in his excellent article:

    The announcement by the UK government was a political cover to build new coal plants while promising to put CCS on them when available – i.e. it means nothing other than new Coal Plants there.

    Thank goodness the Europeans have a cap and trade system over there preventing all the investments in new Coal plants…errr..ummm not.

  8. paulm says:

    Sasparilla, that’s the way I interpreted it too.

    Basically, even if they went ahead with a reasonable program to capture CO2 it would serve as a bad example for others like India and China.

  9. paulm says:

    Coincidence….and the MSM still mentions not Climate Change!

    Forest Fires Largely Overlooked by Climate-Change Modelers
    Forest fires worsen global warming and make it harder for societies to adapt to drought and higher temperatures, scientists said.


    Wildfire rages in South Carolina…
    SC wildfire biggest in more than 3 decades

    It looks like fires are the front line of GW at the moment. It’s starting to look like Hell on Earth these days.

    The NW looks very dry also, even with recent below average temperatures. I expect there will be some large fire events up here also this summer.

  10. livinglopez says:

    Fortunately, natural cleaning products are gaining in popularity and offer an environmentally-friendly and cost-effective alternative to the toxic household cleaning products used in many homes today.

  11. danl says:

    Wow does Barton understand economics at all?

    Here’s a lesson for him: The USARP (SO2 cap and trade) achieved the same objectives of the Command and Control mechanisms of the Clean Air Act at one-quarter the cost. Does Baron understand that cap and trade is FLEXIBLE?

    Also: Congress sets performance standards, but strip the E.P.A. of the authority to set the same standards? Sees like a bunch of grandstanding to me.