"Energy and Global Warming News for June 1st: Next Steps for Waxman-Markey, climate change turning seas acid"
I keep getting confirmations that Speaker Pelosi still aims to put climate and clean energy bill on the House floor the last week in June, as first reported here (see “Climate politics scoop and question of the week“). Grist has a long article, excerpted below, on next steps. I would note that other committees may not have to vote the bill out — concerns from Ways and Means and Agriculture might instead be negotiated with Henry Waxman (D-CA) and addressed in a manager’s amendment on the floor.
The Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill cleared a major hurdle on May 21 when it was approved by the Energy and Commerce Committee. But the American Clean Energy Security Act of 2009 still has a long road to travel before it can be voted on by the full House.
The House parliamentarian has referred the bill to nine committees, though only four have signaled that they intend to review it in the next weeks. Some estimates of how many committees may want a chance to modify the legislation go as high as 11, and it’s certain that the Ways and Means, Agriculture, Science, and Natural Resources committees will all play some role in the development of the bill.
All of this will take place before the bill goes up for a vote in the full House, which could come by the end of June, if some reports are to be believed. Here’s a run down of the committees likely to take a stab at the bill (or a hatchet, perhaps), and any indication we have so far of these panels’ intentions:
Ways and Means: This committee is responsible for taxes and any other revenue that comes into federal coffers. Under the proposed cap-and-trade plan, the government will auction emissions credits to industries and other buyers, generating significant revenue for Uncle Sam.
There are plenty of alternative plans floating around Ways and Means that may influence how the committee members approach Waxman-Markey. John Larson (D-Conn.) has offered a carbon-tax bill, Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) has proposed a cap-and-dividend bill, and Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) authored legislation with Van Hollen last year and has been active in discussions of climate policy.
Agriculture: Committee chairmam Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) has threatened to derail Waxman-Markey unless the EPA backs off from proposed rules on the greenhouse-gas footprint of ethanol production. He’s demanded veto power over the related provisions of the bill, and says if he doesn’t get it, his committee’s 26 Democrats will vote against the bill on the floor. He also wants a chance to review provisions he has deemed to be inadequate like fuel standards, the definition of renewable energy sources, and regulations governing trading in the carbon market. He has also said he wants to see more domestic offsets made available for farmers and thinks the Department of Agriculture should play a larger role in implementation of the legislation.
Science and Technology: This committee may decide to review provisions in the bill related to adaptation and climate science monitoring. Chairman Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) is holding markup of the committee’s own bill to create a National Climate Service at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in early June, which the committee could choose to add to the Waxman-Markey bill. This committee has also been active on some of the policy issues surrounding the development of carbon-capture-and-sequestration technology in the past, and advocated for increased government funding of energy technology development.
Natural Resources: This committee oversees public lands, wildlife, water resources, mining laws, and the development of natural resources, including oil and natural gas. Chairman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) has said he intends to get more programs to expand the development of oil and gas in the outer continental shelf and on federal lands. More domestic development, he said, “should be part of a responsible, comprehensive, pro-energy bill.”
Rahall’s committee has been holding hearings on this subject this year, revisiting what became a highly contentious issue in 2008 as Congress allowed the ban on offshore drilling to expire. Adding expanded domestic drilling to this bill would displease many Democrats, including sponsors Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), but there has been talk that the Obama administration has been discussing this as one option to sweeten a climate deal for moderates on both sides of the aisle in order to get the bill through Congress.
Education & Labor: This committee could decide to examine and amend some of the green jobs provisions of the bill, as well as the provisions that provide grants to educational institutions for green jobs training. For now, though, it looks like the panel will take a pass on reviewing the bill.
Foreign Affairs: This panel may want to take up some of the provisions in the bill to fund international adaptation and technology development. Currently, the bill would allocate a tiny sum of revenue generated from selling emissions credits to adaptation programs – just 2 percent of the total revenue generated in the initial years of the cap-and-trade. But what the United States is willing to offer to other countries is probably going to be key in bringing major developing countries like China, India, Brazil, and Indonesia on board at the international climate talks late this year in Copenhagen.
Financial Services: This committee could take up several portions of the bill, including the elements that deal with grants and loans for green buildings and energy efficiency projects. Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has said he would probably want to take a look at the provisions on regulating the new carbon market that the bill would create.
Transportation and Infrastructure: This panel could claim jurisdiction on anything in the bill dealing with transportation, which the legislation does contain a bit of. But the committee is already at work on a major surface transportation bill that will likely occupy much of its time this summer.
BONN, Germany (Reuters) – Climate change is turning the oceans more acid in a trend that could endanger everything from clams to coral and be irreversible for thousands of years, national science academies said on Monday.
Seventy academies from around the world urged governments meeting in Bonn for climate talks from June 1-12 to take more account of risks to the oceans in a new U.N. treaty for fighting global warming due to be agreed in Copenhagen in December.
“To avoid substantial damage to ocean ecosystems, deep and rapid reductions of carbon dioxide emissions of at least 50 percent (below 1990 levels) by 2050, and much more thereafter, are needed,” the academies said in a joint statement….
The shift disrupts ocean chemistry and attacks the “building blocks needed by many marine organisms, such as corals and shellfish, to produce their skeletons, shells and other hard structures,” it said.
On some projections, levels of acidification in 80 percent of Arctic seas would be corrosive to clams that are vital to the food web by 2060, it said.
And “coral reefs may be dissolving globally,” it said, if atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide were to rise to 550 parts per million (ppm) from a current 387 ppm. Corals are home to many species of fish.
“These changes in ocean chemistry are irreversible for many thousands of years, and the biological consequences could last much longer,” it said.
The warning was issued by the Inter-Academy Panel, representing science academies of countries from Albania to Zimbabwe and including those of Australia, Britain, France, Japan and the United States….
The academies’ statement said that, if current rates of carbon emissions continue until 2050, computer models indicate that “the oceans will be more acidic than they have been for tens of millions of years.”
Texas’s efforts to create incentives for solar power production are dead, dashing the industry’s hopes that the huge, sunny state would see a surge in demand for panels.
Last-minute maneuvering this weekend at the end of the state legislative session prevented the passage of $500m of solar rebates. Efforts to change Texas’s renewable portfolio standard to create extra requirements for solar, biomass and geothermal power had failed earlier.
The legislature in Texas, like a handful of other states, meets only every two years. So unless the governor calls a special session, solar incentives will not be considered again until 2011.
This is the second big state to see renewable energy incentives fall short in the legislature in recent days.
Florida’s legislature failed to enact a renewable portfolio standard “” which would have established requirements for the state’s renewable energy use “” despite a plea from the governor, Charlie Crist.
NEW YORK — Chinese solar equipment manufacturers have taken a big hit in the economic downturn. But you wouldn’t know it from the way their stock values have been performing lately….
Chinese solar companies have been among the strongest performers on the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ in recent weeks, outpacing their U.S., Japanese and European counterparts even before the dismal figures came in. Virtually all Chinese solar stocks spiked in trading yesterday…
Analysts say the markets are getting excited about the Chinese government’s announcement of a major incentive package designed to encourage the widespread installation of solar power in that country. In a recent report the global business consultancy Frost & Sullivan says that Chinese manufacturers are poised to weather the economic decline better than many Western manufacturers, as falling PV prices favor their low-cost and increasingly sophisticated production platforms.
“Asian producers have been on the aggressive expansion curve eating into Japanese and European manufacturer’s market shares,” says Frost & Sullivan’s alt-energy research manager Alina Bakhareva in an analysis. “A harsh truth for many smaller European manufacturers is that they are likely to fall prey to the globalisation of the solar industry as companies with stronger balance sheets begin to acquire their less fortunate counterparts.”
Compiled by Sean