January 27 News: Rep. Waxman Calls GOP Obession to Force Decision on Keystone XL “So Stupid”

Other stories below: Singapore raises sea defenses against tide of climate; FirstEnergy to shut down six coal sites

Waxman: GOP ‘so stupid’ to include Keystone pipeline in payroll tax package

A senior Democrat on the payroll tax conference panel had some strong words Thursday for Republicans hoping to attach Keystone pipeline language to the package.

“That is so stupid, already, for them to be pushing the Keystone pipeline issue in this bill, in this conference,” Rep. Henry Waxman told reporters gathered near the Chesapeake Bay for the Democrats’ annual caucus retreat. “The pipeline issue is one that the Republicans are obsessing over.”

The California Democrat suggested that a provision forcing approval of the pipeline would alienate the Democrats on the panel and kill any shot at a bipartisan deal.

“Many of us believe that that pipeline will lock us into a 50 to 100 years of dependence on the dirtiest source of oil,” said Waxman, the senior Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He characterized the GOP’s Keystone provision as a “special interest earmark” with no business on the tax bill.

Singapore raises sea defenses against tide of climate

A 15-km (10 mile) stretch of crisp white beach is one of the key battlegrounds in Singapore’s campaign to defend its hard-won territory against rising sea levels linked to climate change.

Stone breakwaters are being enlarged on the low-lying island state’s man-made east coast and their heights raised. Barges carrying imported sand top up the beach, which is regularly breached by high tides.

Singapore, the world’s second most densely populated country after Monaco, covers 715 square km (276 sq miles). It has already reclaimed large areas to expand its economy and population — boosting its land area by more than 20 percent since 1960.

But the new land is now the frontline in a long-term battle against the sea.

Every square meter is precious in Singapore.

Regional Cap-and-Trade Effort Seeks Greater Impact by Cutting Carbon Allowances

Adjusting to shifts in the economy, states in the cap-and-trade system known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative have slashed the number of allowances that electric power companies can buy to offset their emissions.

The decision, made last week, was intended to shore up the pioneering program as it undergoes its first comprehensive review this year. While the program has been judged a success by most of the participating states, in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, an oversupply of the allowances — in essence, permits to pollute — has limited the program’s impact.

The program, the nation’s first cap-and-trade system, sets a ceiling on carbon dioxide emissions from electric power providers and requires the companies to pay for their heat-trapping emissions by buying the allowances in online auctions held four times a year. Companies that pollute less can benefit by selling off allowances to other companies.

Coal-Fired Power Plants Closing: FirstEnergy Shutting Down 6 Sites In Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland

FirstEnergy Corp. said Thursday that new environmental regulations led to a decision to shut down six older, coal-fired power plants in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland, affecting more than 500 employees.

The plants, which are in Cleveland, Ashtabula, Oregon and Eastlake in Ohio, Adrian, Pa. and Williamsport, Md., will be retired by Sept. 1. They have generated about 10 percent of the electricity produced by FirstEnergy over the last three years, the company said.

In a statement James Lash, head of the company’s generation unit, indicated that a review of the company’s coal-fired plants determined it would not be cost-effective to get the older ones into compliance with environmental regulations the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced in December.

Are natural gas vehicles a good idea?

On Thursday, President Obama traveled to Las Vegas to pitch a few new energy policies — including tax breaks for firms that buy natural gas-powered trucks. T. Boone Pickens, for one, has argued that fueling vehicles with natural gas is the best way to curtail oil use. Is it?

In small doses, perhaps, though it depends what the alternatives are. Fueling up cars and trucks directly with natural gas could help cut America’s reliance on crude oil. Yet some experts have cautioned that plug-in electric vehicles should play a much more pivotal role in weaning the country off oil. After all, it’s far more efficient to take natural gas, burn it to generate electricity, and power a bunch of plug-in vehicles, than it would be to fuel up cars and trucks with all that natural gas directly. (That’s because the combustion engines in cars and trucks lose waste more energy than the modern-day combined-cycle gas turbines that produce electricity.)

The counterargument is that electric vehicles are expensive and hard to scale up — and they typically require a vast new charging infrastructure. That’s true. But natural-gas vehicles could face similar hurdles. A 2002 analysis in the journal Energy Policy found that natural-gas fueling stations have historically had trouble getting built precisely because they turned out to be far more costly than anticipated.

Waning Support for Wind and Solar

Assisted by technological innovation and years of subsidies, the cost of wind and solar power has fallen sharply — so much so that the two industries say that they can sometimes deliver cleaner electricity at prices competitive with power made from fossil fuels.

At the same time, wind and solar companies are telling Congress that they cannot be truly competitive and keep creating jobs without a few more years of government support.

Their efforts received a boost on Thursday from President Obama, who called for a package of tax credits for renewable power as part of a broader energy plan that he outlined while on a campaign swing through Nevada and Colorado.

But the lobbying by the wind and solar industries comes at a time when there is little enthusiasm for alternative-energy subsidies in Washington.

20 Responses to January 27 News: Rep. Waxman Calls GOP Obession to Force Decision on Keystone XL “So Stupid”

  1. Sasparilla says:

    Gotta laugh at the irony of Waxman’s comment, sounds good on its face if you don’t realize we already have two tar sands pipelines from Canada. While the GOP thinks its got a good political club to bash the president up to the election (why their obsessed with the XL & will continue to do so) when Waxman says:

    “Many of us believe that that pipeline will lock us into a 50 to 100 years of dependence on the dirtiest source of oil”

    He’s totally right about the locking us in, unfortunately the two Tar Sands Pipelines (Keystone 1 & Alberta Clipper) that the President quietly approved after getting into office (Summer of 2009 & Waxman knows this) have already locked us into that dependence regardless of the XL (which is just going to get rerouted and approved).

  2. prokaryotes says:

    The NYT (dis)informs today

    Assisted by technological innovation and years of subsidies, the cost of wind and solar power has fallen sharply — so much so that the two industries say that they can sometimes deliver cleaner electricity at prices competitive with power made from fossil fuels.

    The above news is atm frontpage news at google-news. Though just bother and type “solar” into the search field.

    Among the first entrys, this

    In the Developing World, Solar Is Cheaper than Fossil Fuels

    Advances are opening solar to the 1.3 billion people who don’t have access to grid electricity.

    Beside this articel comes at a time when Obame starts major support for clean energy.

    There is not a better example how much FAIL this New York Times paper has become.

  3. prokaryotes says:

    Oh in my rage i forgotten the epic fail New York Times headline “Waning Support for Wind and Solar”

  4. prokaryotes says:

    With the potential to generate up to 27 gigawatts of ocean energy by 2050 — that’s as much as is produced by eight coal-fired power plants — the southwestern coastal regions of Britain have been officially dubbed the nation’s first “Marine Energy Park.”

  5. prokaryotes says:

    Rick Santorum: Gingrich And Romney ‘Bought Into The Global Warming Hoax’ In his final question at the Florida Republican presidential debate on CNN, Rick Santorum told Wolf Blitzer why he was more likely to defeat President Obama than Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. “Cap and trade!” Santorum said. “Both of them bought into the global warming hoax!”


  6. Leif says:

    “…including tax breaks for firms that buy natural gas-powered trucks.” Any tax incentives should be indexed to the percentage of actual CO2 reduced, not a penny more. Carbon tax is the easiest approach IMO.

  7. prokaryotes says:

    Indeed. The natural gas buzz is quiet scary actually. Since it threatens the ozone layer…

  8. prokaryotes says:

    Vehicle (R)evolution: Renault Twizy electric Car/Motorcycle!

  9. malcreado says:

    They need a new “big” pipeline to expand production in the tar sands. It is all about expanding the tar sands.

  10. Colorado Bob says:

    “The Global Warming Hoax’ –

    Some how the hoax has managed to pick up speed this winter , ….. the last 30 days of US records :
    Max daily highs Vs Max daily lows

    3120 to 150

    Min daily highs Vs Min daily lows

    1167 to 160

    Nice trick for a “hoax”.

  11. Exactly! And not just one new pipe. They need lots and lots.

    They plan to triple tar sands carbon extraction by 2035. It will take a LOT more pipe to move all that. Keystone XL is just one of many currently being fought over including Enbridge Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan Transmountain and Northern Leg. All huge tar sands pipes across BC to saltwater. Each pipe is a fuse to a huge pile of carbon awaiting vaporization for oil company profits.

  12. Colorado Bob says:

    Boone Pickens –
    This his central to his idea of converting the US heavy truck fleet to natural gas. Remember, it takes 3 barrels of oil to make 1 barrel of diesel . Everything America touches, rides in a heavy truck. Powerful interests moving this, I have no idea if it will help, but this is where we’re going.

  13. Without new tarsands pipelines the oil majors are stuck just making the billions in profits they do now.

    Clearly we need to trash our shared climate so Big Oil can increase profits. They just don’t make enough yet.

  14. Colorado Bob says:

    A natural gas powered heavy truck fleet –
    The air would be better on the 110 coming out of Long Beach.

  15. Mossy says:

    It is imperative that we get climate change questions inserted into the presidential debates. We need to ascertain where these debates are being held, who is sponsoring them, and who the moderator(s) are. Then we need to hound them before the event, demanding that CC be addressed.

    Anyone with any ties to the moderators should be approached; in fact, we should delve really deeply to discover who may have links that can be utilized to facilitate this.

    This could be a project of CP, CAP, and Think Progress, as Jeff H. has suggested, since you guys are respected and influential. But an “ask” could be made of all CP readers before a debate, to call or write the station, or moderator. What would be helpful is to determine early on the “where” and “who” of these debates, along with information about phone numbers, web sites, etc.

    Also, as has been done before on a small scale, we should mobilize to assemble with climate signs at the venue of any debate. Certainly, if local CP readers from any given locale would commit to this, we could assemble a plentiful crowd.

  16. prokaryotes says:

    Do you have a twitter feed, with the news you post?

  17. David B. Benson says:

    The production tax credit, primarily used by the wind power industry, is market distorting in udesirable ways. The 1603 program used primarily by the solar PV industry is not, at least not in the same way.

  18. prokaryotes says:

    That is a bit ironic to say …

    The oil, gas and coal industries get as much as $49 billion in subsidies and tax giveaways every single year

    Get your facts straight.