November 6, 2015
President Barack Obama on 6th November determined that the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline is not in the national interest and therefore denied the cross-border permit necessary for the pipeline to be built. The President’s shameful decision concludes the administration’s shameful six year delay in making a decision.
My view for a long time has been that the Obama Administration’s strategy was to delay the decision until TransCanada Corporation gave up. That strategy came up against TransCanada’s request on 2nd November to suspend the State Department’s consideration of its application until 2017—that is, until President...
Congressional Resolutions To Block EPA’s Climate Rules and DC Circuit Decision on Stay of Power Plant RuleNovember 1, 2015
Congressional Resolutions To Block EPA’s Climate Rules Are Introduced and Set To Move Quickly
Representative Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s energy subcommittee, introduced resolutions of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to block the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing its greenhouse gas rules for new and existing power plants on 26th October. The subcommittee announced on Friday that it would mark up House Joint Resolutions 71 and 72 on Tuesday, 3rd November. Action by the full committee should quickly...
October 23, 2015
The last officially scheduled negotiating session before COP-21 (the twenty-first Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) in Paris concluded on Friday, 23 October. The main achievement of the eleventh part of the second session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhancing Action, as the week-long negotiations are officially called, was to expand the draft text of the Paris climate treaty from the 20 pages they began with on Monday to 63 pages by Friday.
Although some slight progress can be seen here and there (for example, on mitigation and transparency issues), wide...
October 23, 2015
The EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions rules for new and existing coal and natural gas power plants were finally published in the Federal Register on Friday, 23rd October. EPA had released the text of the final rules on 3rd August. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced that he and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) next week will file a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to block the rule for new power plants. The Majority Leader’s office also announced that Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) will file a CRA resolution to block the rule...
October 16, 2015
India’s Business Standard reported that the Indian government is not happy with the new “first draft” negotiating text of the Paris climate treaty that was released on 6th October. Nitin Sethi’s 14th October story says that India’s negotiators have concluded that, “It ignores many submissions by developing countries, breaches India's non-negotiable red lines and is inimical to the country's interests at the talks.”
India’s main complaint is the latest re-iteration of the line in the sand drawn by the G-77, the group of 135 developing countries that often negotiate as a bloc. The G-77 insists that the “...
President Obama: Foreign Policy Disasters in Middle East Are Small Potatoes Compared to Forthcoming Paris Climate Treaty TriumphOctober 16, 2015
CBS’s Sixty Minutes on 11th October aired Steve Kroft’s interview of President Barack Obama. The most heated part of the interview concerned the administration’s disastrous foreign policy in the Middle East and Russia’s intervention in Syria. At its climax, Steve Kroft said: “He's [Putin’s] challenging your leadership, Mr. President. He's challenging your leadership—” President Obama interrupted: “Well Steve, I got to tell you, if you think that running your economy into the ground and having to send troops in in order to prop up your only ally is leadership, then we've got a different definition of leadership. My definition of leadership would be leading on climate change, an international accord that potentially we'll get in Paris.”
The President’s remarks can be seen...
October 9, 2015
The co-chairmen of UN negotiations on the forthcoming Paris climate treaty released what they called a “first draft,” which they said will serve as “a concise basis for negotiations for the next negotiating sessions from October 19-23 in Bonn. The new twenty-page draft is a slimmed down version of much longer drafts released in February and July.
As Andrew Revkin points out on his New York Times blog, the new draft is a lot shorter, but it is still riddled with brackets that enclose text that has been suggested during the negotiations by one or...
October 9, 2015
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change elected Dr. Hoesung Lee as its new chairman at its meeting in Dubrovnik, Croatia, this week. Dr. Lee, who is currently one of the IPCC’s three vice chairmen, defeated five other candidates. Dr. Lee replaces two-term IPCC Chairman Rajendra K. Pachauri, who resigned in disgrace in February.
Dr. Lee is professor of the economics of climate change, energy, and sustainable development at Korea University. In an informative interview with the Carbon Brief, he said, “If you ask me to choose the most important work in climate change issues, then I'll choose carbon price. That's because it is the driver to put us into the right track.”...
October 9, 2015
The House of Representatives passed a bill on October 9, 2015, to lift the forty-year-old ban on crude oil exports by a vote of 261 to 159. Twenty-six Democrats joined 235 Republicans in voting "yes" on H.R. 702, which was sponsored by Representative Joe Barton (R-Tex.). Six Republicans and 153 Democrats voted "no".
An obscure provision to raise authorized funding to subsidize U.S.-flagged merchant ships that can be commandeered for military purposes was added to H.R. 702 by Republican leadership in order to increase Democratic support. That caused at least two conservative groups, Heritage Action and Freedom Works, to withdraw their support for the bill.
Although the bill or a similar bill has a good...
October 2, 2015
The Environmental Protection Agency on 18th September charged that Volkswagen had sold approximately 480,000 diesel cars in the U. S. that contained “defeat devices” that allowed them to pass EPA’s emissions tests, while pollution levels increased by up to forty times in normal driving. VW quickly admitted they had cheated and had sold 11 million vehicles worldwide with the devices. The company set aside $7.6 billion to pay for penalties, recalls, and liability judgments, but many analysts thought that the total costs would eventually be much higher.
VW cheated because they are caught between regulations to reduce pollution and regulations to increase fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Meeting both these...