Yesterday, 221 members of Congress released a letter to the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, asking him to allow the coal industry to emit greenhouse pollution without any limits. Claiming the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule on greenhouse gas pollution from new and modified coal-fired power plants needs to be killed because of the “devastating impact it will have on jobs and the nation’s economy” were 207 Republicans and 14 Democrats:
We respectfully ask that you stop EPA’s GHG rulemaking because of the devastating impact it will have on jobs and the economy.
The letter was spearheaded by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), chairman of the subcommittee on energy and power, and Rep. John Barrow (D-GA). The OMB is now weeks past the February 3 deadline to approve the EPA rules. This letter is similar to one sent on February 2 to OMB director Jeffrey Zients from Whitfield, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), and Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI).
The chart below lists the fourteen Democrats who oppose climate protections:
|Fourteen Coal-Above-Climate Democrats|
|Jason Altmire (D-PA)||John Barrow (D-GA)|
|Sanford Bishop (D-GA)||Dan Boren (D-OK)|
|Ben Chandler(D-KY)||Jerry Costello (D-IL)|
|Mark Critz (D-PA)||Tim Holden (D-PA)|
|Larry Kissell (D-NC)||Jim Matheson (D-UT)|
|Mike McIntyre (D-NC)||Collin Peterson (D-MN)|
|Nick Rahall (D-WV)||Mike Ross (D-AR)|
Of these 14:
–Ten are members of the conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition. The energy sector has been a huge financial backer of the Blue Dog political action committee — the coalition’s shared fundraising apparatus.
–Seven of those ten are part of the Blue Dog Energy Task Force. That nine-member group claims works to “promote responsible, diverse domestic energy production, increased energy efficiency, greater use of natural gas, renewable energy, electric transmission, and research and development on advanced energy technologies.”
–Except for Kissell, all of them voted last year to block climate action last year. Thirteen voted last year for HR 910, which would have permanently eliminated the EPA’s power to limit greenhouse pollution by legislatively denying the scientific threat of global warming.
Of the 34 Republicans who did not sign the letter, all but three — Rep. John Boehner, Bob Turner, and Rodney Frelinghuysen — voted for HR 910. Boehner publicly dismisses climate science. As Speaker of the House, he does not typically vote on legislation. Turner, who took Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D-NY) seat, was not in Congress when the HR 910 vote took place, but is a global warming denier. Frelinghuysen voted against the American Clean Energy and Security Act in 2009, and did not cast a vote on HR 910.
This letter, once again, shows the House is dominated by climate zombies more concerned about polluter welfare than about the immediate threat of global climate change.
The new innovative Green Deal financial mechanism eliminates the need to pay upfront for energy efficiency measures and instead provides reassurances that the cost of the measures should be covered by savings on the electricity bill.
Can this government realise its ambition of being the greenest ever?
At Allen & York, we have drawn upon noticeable positive and negatives of the Green Deal.
Reasons for being positive about the Green Deal include the fact that energy efficiency measures will now have some form of support – the cost is spread to help people pay for it and the theory of being paid back from bills is a novel way to get around cash-flow issues.
The Green Deal can also provide a direct link to the property value, thereby putting a long-term value on the efficiency of the building for prospective buyers to see. As the Green Deal is accessible to commercial and residential buildings, all home owners could benefit from this.
Attracting more investment than ever before, the green deal could be the biggest home energy improvement programme of modern times; what do you think?
Lets take a look at the negatives, these are important, but not insurmountable, and need tackling quickly before another government scheme is launched.
- The golden rule doesn’t work for many of the products, especially when you consider the cost of lending plus admin fees are to come out of the figures – ECO will be vital for many initiatives to make it work
- The savings, which pay for the green deals and help it hit the golden rule, are measured in a standardised way, but could be rendered obsolete by habitation or future changes to the property, leaving someone who signs up or worse still someone who buys the property paying for the discrepancy – We would solve this by the government underwriting the difference, accepting that Green Deal customers are taking a genuine “leap of faith” in signing up
In addition to this, the delivery is complex: the government is relying on companies to present the Green Deal how they wish, which could lead to confusion and abuse of the system. George Monibot in his recent blog on The Guardian has stated that “an environmental policy which harms the interests of a society’s poorest people offends one of the fundamental tenets of what I believe environmentalism to be. “ There are suggestions that green deal and Energy Company Obligation (ECO) schemes starting later this year, which are supposed to improve the energy efficiency of our homes and help people to cut their energy payments, will lead to higher bills for the poor.
We’re keen to read your comments.
I’ve been a devoted reader of YaleEnvironment360, an online magazine that offers excellent reporting and solid analysis of all things environmental, since its launch in 2008. So I’m pleased that this week I wrote my first story for the website.
The story is about how carbon dioxide can be removed from the air, a technology I reported on last fall for FORTUNE and that will be the subject on my forthcoming book, Suck It Up: How capturing carbon from the air can help solve the climate crisis. The ebook will be published next month as an Amazon Kindle Single. I’ll have more to say about it (and the ebook publishing model) when the book is released.
The YaleE360 story is headlined: Rethinking Carbon Dioxide: From a Pollutant to an Asset.
Here’s how it begins:
With global greenhouse gas emissions still on the rise, despite decades of talk about curbing them, maybe the time has come to think differently about the climate crisis. Yes, we need to burn less coal, oil and natural gas, but clearly fossil fuels are going to be around for awhile. So why not try to clean up the mess they make?
That’s what a handful of prominent scientists are trying to do by developing technologies to remove carbon dioxide from the air. These scientists have launched start-up companies and attracted well-to-do investors — most notably Bill Gates — along with venture capital and, most recently, the attention of Wall Street. They say their technology does not need government support, though it would help. What it needs, above all, is a mindset that regards CO2 not simply as a pollutant but as a valuable commodity.
Nathaniel “Ned” David, the chief executive of a startup called Kilimanjaro Energy, puts it this way: “The single largest waste product made by humanity is CO2. Thirty gigatons a year. It’s immensely valuable, and today we just blow it out the tail pipe. What if there were some way to actually capture it, use it, and make money?”
You can read the rest here.
Writing the story gave me the opportunity to reconnect with Roger Cohn, the editor of YaleE360, who was a classmate of mine at Yale in the 1970s (although we didn’t know one another then.) Roger, who went on to report for The Philadelphia Inquirer and edit Audubon magazine and Mother Jones, has done an excellent job with the Yale site.
A last thought: If you write a blog or host a radio show (or know someone who does) I’d like to get the word out about the book, which explains why we’ve failed to deal with global warming and why air capture of CO2 could be a promising, market-based response to climate change. I’ll be attending the first scientific conference devoted to air capture in Calgary, Alberta, on March 7-8. More to come, soon.