Friday, December 17, 2010

Bipartisan Clean Diesel Bill Reauthorization Unanimously Passed by the Senate

Senator Inhofe was pleased this week to join Senators George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio), Tom Carper (D-Del.), and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), in welcoming the Senate's unanimous approval of S. 3973, the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2010 (DERA). The bill is a five-year reauthorization of their popular 2005 legislation that established a voluntary national and state-level grant and loan program to reduce diesel emissions. The bipartisan bill passed unanimously as part of H.R. 5809 and now goes to the House for consideration.

If enacted, the DERA Reauthorization would continue to fund the modernization of the old diesel fleet in the United States by providing cleaner, more efficient diesel retrofits. Every year, DERA helps clean up more than 14,000 diesel-powered vehicles and equipment across the country, which has reduced emissions while employing thousands of workers who manufacture, sell, or repair diesel vehicles and their components in each state. This bipartisan legislation, cosponsored by 33 senators, extends the program by five years. It is supported by a broad coalition of more than 530 environmental, public, industry, and labor groups. 

DERA is considered one of the most cost-effective federal programs, averaging more than $13 in health and economic benefits for every $1 in funding. Since funding started in 2007, pollution reductions from DERA to date will save up to 2000 lives by 2017 and has funded more than 3,000 projects nation-wide, impacting thousands of vehicles and engines. Additionally, this legislation will be able to help clean the air for the over 18,000 children in Delaware with asthma currently living in areas of poor air quality.    

"As I've noted, the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) is a model of bipartisan legislation, as it strikes the appropriate balance between continuing the nation's, and Oklahoma's, success in reducing emissions without putting jobs and small businesses at risk," said Sen. Inhofe. "Also, this bill reduces DERA's 2005 authorization levels, which means it's fiscally sound. It was a pleasure to work on this bill with Senators Carper, Voinovich, and Boxer. I hope DERA will lead to similar accomplishments on other major environmental issues that we will face in the coming months."

Click Here to Learn More

Senate Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Help Eliminate Dangerous Lead in Drinking Water

Senator Inhofe also welcomed Senate passage this week of  S. 3874, a bipartisan bill he co-sponsored along with Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA). The legislation strengthens and clarifies standards to protect people from toxic lead in drinking water by uniformly reducing the allowable lead content in drinking water pipes, pipe fittings and plumbing fixtures. Read more about Senator Inhofe's efforts on the bill here.

Senator Inhofe said: "It isn't often that Senator Boxer and I agree on legislation. Yet in this case, we did. Here is an opportunity to pass a bill that will help further decrease the amount of lead in water without imposing a burden on America's manufacturers."

Lead is a dangerous contaminant that can harm the nervous system and brain development, and is especially dangerous for pregnant women, infants, and children. Currently, federal law allows plumbing fixtures that carry drinking water to have as much as 8 percent lead. Under the legislation that passed through the Senate today, the standard will change so that the wetted surface of such plumbing cannot contain more than a weighted average of 0.25 percent lead.

Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Russell Feingold (D-WI), and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) are also cosponsors of the bill.

S. 3874 will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Inhofe: Republicans Stand Ready to Block EPAs Job-Killing Regulations

Sen. Inhofe issued the following statement today on legislation to delay EPA's back-door cap-and-trade regulations for two years:

"When it comes to the demise of the two-year delay of EPA greenhouse gas regulations, the facts are these:

"We had an opportunity to put an end to EPA's job-killing cap-and-trade regulations when we voted on the Murkowski disapproval resolution-requiring 51 votes for passage-earlier this year.  My friend's promise, however, to push for a two-year delay as an alternative contributed significantly to the resolution's defeat-a resolution, I would note, that he voted for.

"The senator who sponsored the two-year delay also had multiple opportunities to attach his legislation to various vehicles moving in the Senate over the last several months-which would have required 60 votes to pass.  He chose not to do so.  Moreover, when Republicans tried to move the 2-year delay, Democrats objected.  

"On top of this, the sponsor waited until the last minute to attempt to suspend the rules-an action that would have required 67 votes for passage-by attaching his amendment to a massive, 2,000-page omnibus spending bill.

"In sum: the bar was raised each and every time, making it more difficult to pass the two-year delay.  This, then, is how the bill failed to move.

"Now, as we have all along, Republicans look forward to working in bipartisan fashion to end EPA's job-killing regulations and restore balance and certainty to the regulatory process."

EPW Policy Beat: Meet EPA, Project Designer

"Ohio EPA has great concern that U.S. EPA front line staff will take this guidance as a ‘green light' to be able to dictate every small aspect of a new facility, using GHGs BACT as the reason."  - Chris Korleski, Director, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, December 1, 2010

How far will EPA go in regulating greenhouse gases?  Bill Becker, Executive Director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA), and a key EPA ally, knows: "For the first time in history, EPA will require that facilities go through a process of examining every piece of their operations and take actions to improve energy efficiency." [Emphasis added] This is a remarkable admission, amply confirming the suspicion that EPA's climate change rules are not about climate change but subjecting the intricacies of private economic decision-making to EPA diktat.   

This reality has alarmed Chris Korleski, Director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.  In his 6 - page opinion assaying EPA's draft guidance on what constitutes "best available control technology" (BACT) for greenhouse gas emissions, Korleski, appointed by Governor Ted Strickland (D), meticulously exposes EPA's unprecedented intrusion into private businesses. 

While this is only a policy guidance and not a final rule, Korleski correctly notes that under this guidance "U.S. EPA will not only have the authority, but as part of the permitting process, permitting authorities will have an obligation to examine every small detail of a source. This is hardly ‘business as usual.'"

EPA, Korleski points out, has effectively proposed that "the permitting authority essentially ‘deconstruct' [a] facility to find major energy uses and then review the equipment to ensure the most efficient energy approaches are being used."  What does that mean?  In an attempt to reassure the regulated, EPA states that permitting authorities can avoid "an assessment of each and every conceivable improvement that could marginally improve the energy efficiency of the new facility as a whole (e.g., installing more efficient light bulbs in the facility's cafeteria)."  But this merely states what a permitting authority should avoid-leaving open myriad possibilities for statist architecture.  As Korleski notes:

[S]tating that permitting authorities do not have to go to the level of asking what type of lighting will be used in the facility's cafeteria is not helpful. Does this mean that everything that consumes more energy than the lighting in the cafeteria has to be evaluated?

Korleski continued: "For example, must permitting authorities evaluate the energy efficiency of induced draft fans and electric water pumps?"  Good question.  After reading EPA's vertiginous 97-page guidance document, the answer could be ‘yes'.  EPA, of course, may consider such analysis no big deal, but Korleski believes that "this type of analysis has not been required prior to the issuance of the guidance and puts the permitting authority in the position to ‘redesign' the source."

Permitting authorities could further be required to get into the unprecedented business of determining a project's indirect greenhouse gas emissions.  As EPA would have it, permit writers considering, say, emissions from a new coal-fired power plant, could factor in "the fuel needed to mine, transport, and process the coal."  That prospect has Korleski deeply concerned:

Ohio EPA does not have the technical expertise to attempt an analysis on every indirect emission of GHGs associated with a source. Far from ‘business as usual,' the guidance suggests a far more detailed analysis than has ever been done for a PSD application. With the coal arriving to a plant by rail, barge, or truck, or possibly conveyed from a mine nearby, there is no practical way to be assured of an exact method of coal shipments. Permitting authorities should not be getting into that level of analysis.

But if EPA's guidance stands, some will.  Bill Becker with NACAA sees no problem. Indeed, as he, and EPA, sees it, businesses should welcome such intrusion, for when it comes to energy efficiency, "they should have been doing that anyway."  Maybe so, but small businesses, and even some permit writers, are shuddering at EPA defining, and dictating, exactly what "that" means.

UPDATE: Reid: Massive Lands Omnibus Bill May Run Out of Time

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid conceded this week that time has likely run out this Congress on a controversial last minute effort to pass a massive lands omnibus package.

Senator Inhofe led the opposition in the Senate to the massive package, arguing, "I stand in firm opposition to this package, the contents of which are still uncertain...I am perfectly willing to work with my colleagues to advance some of these bills individually, but we need time to examine the changes that have been made since they emerged from the EPW committee, and we must consider their effect on the deficit."

To learn more about the lands package, check out Michelle Malkin's piece on the Reid-Boxer effort. 

Greenwire

Package of bills may run out of time -- Reid (12/16/2010)

Sarah Abruzzese, E&E reporter

Link to Article

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today that it is unlikely that the Senate will have time to vote on a massive package of water, public lands and wildlife bills before the end of session.

"I'm not sure we can get that done now. I sure would like to get it done but I'm not sure we can," the Nevada Democrat said.

Earlier in the week, Democrats had said they thought they had enough Republican votes to overcome a potential GOP filibuster against a package of bills. And Reid has said that he thinks that the combination of 100 or more bills from three committees aimed at preserving land, restoring major national water bodies and protecting various species of wildlife was "extremely important."

But time is running out and the schedule is still filled with important legislation that Reid said must come to the floor, including the START nonproliferation treaty with Russia, repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, the "DREAM Act," and the 9/11 workers' health care bill.

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said that at this point it is impossible to tell if the measure will make it to the floor.

"We don't know," Boxer said today. "Unless [Reid] can attach it to something, it's going to be difficult to have the time."

However, Boxer did say that there is a possibility that some parts of the omnibus could be moved by unanimous consent. Whether that happens before or after Christmas -- if at all -- remains to be seen.

The majority leader once again signaled his willingness to gavel in the new Congress on the heels of the old.

"We are in session [in the 111th Congress], if necessary, up to Jan. 5. I hope that's not necessary, but that's the clock that my Republican colleagues have to run out. It's a long clock. I don't want to be here," he said. "But I'm not going to let the country's work not be completed as a result of that. I get paid whether I'm here in Washington or in Nevada, and that's the way all members of Congress, it's the same deal."

In the News... E&E News: 12 Senate Republicans seek delay of EPA permitting

E&E News

12 Senate Republicans seek delay of EPA permitting

12/16/2010

Elana Schor, E&E reporter

Link to Article  

An in-the-works plan to grant Clean Water Act (CWA) permits for certain pesticide users is fast becoming the latest U.S. EPA regulation to draw politically charged pushback, as a dozen GOP senators yesterday pressed the agency for a delay in its enforcement.

In a letter to EPA chief Lisa Jackson, the 12 senators -- all members of the Agriculture and Environment and Public Works committees -- charged that the agency expanded the reach of its "general permit" for pesticide sprays over water in a second draft version that is now under review by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

The federal appeals court decision that effectively subjected pesticide sprays over water to a double-permit system, under both CWA and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), requires EPA to finalize its program by April. The senators asked Jackson to "either seek a delay from the court or use its authority to suspend enforcement of the new permit" until the agency's proposed changes to its rule can be fully digested by states where pest-control districts may now have to obtain an EPA permit.

"Given the economic climate in many states as well as the severe budget shortfalls that many states face, we are most concerned about the hardship this will place on state regulators as well as the pesticide users and applicators they regulate," wrote the senators, led by James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the environment panel's top Republican, and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, his party's senior member on the agriculture panel.

The senators also questioned EPA's decision to abide by the appeals court's "mistaken ruling" in National Cotton Council v. EPA which first voided a George W. Bush-era rule and called for the new pesticide permit. The Supreme Court declined to review the case in February, responding to a challenge from industry groups.

Chambliss joined outgoing Agriculture Chairwoman Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) earlier this year on legislation that would allow pesticide sprays to continue with only a FIFRA permit (Greenwire, Aug. 9). But it remains unclear whether Lincoln's successor at the helm, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), shares her interest in changing the EPA permitting rules.

Click here to read the senators' letter to Jackson.

News Roundup on UN Climate Party in Cancun: Cash Pledge in Doubt - Deal Decades Away - Cancun: Great for Spring Break, not for Climate Negotiating

Inhofe EPW News Roundup

Politico: U.S. Climate Cash Pledge in Doubt - ..."They promised to pass a cap-and-trade bill and reminded us they wanted to give away $100 billion, and I said, 'From where?'" incoming House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) told POLITICO. Republican Sens. Jim Inhofe (Okla.), David Vitter (La.), John Barrasso (Wyo.) and George Voinovich (Ohio) urged Clinton last week to freeze all future spending requests related to international climate change finance programs and make no new commitments.  "You're looking at a thing where you have a lot of people in Congress who are suspicious of foreign assistance," said Mark Helmke, spokesman for Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Dick Lugar (R-Ind.). "All of a sudden, we're putting a whole lot of new demands at a time when people want to cut spending and when people are getting tired of money going overseas when we have a lot of concerns domestically."

Politico: Controversial Questions Punted  - Negotiators from about 190 countries reached a modest set of agreements early Saturday in Cancun on how to tackle global warming but punted some of the most controversial questions for a later date.  ...Diplomats struggled over the past two weeks at the Mexican resort town on some of those key questions and had essentially reached a standoff, forcing them to pick around the edges at ideas like technology, trees and adaptation, all of which could garner sufficient consensus.  For the United States, Cancun closes without having to make any new commitments that could put the Obama administration further under fire from Republicans in Congress. GOP lawmakers helped kill Obama's climate legislation earlier this year and they are already preparing to hold hearings in 2011 that scrutinize global warming science. Members on both sides of the aisle also have their doubts about any new international financial commitments related to global warming when Washington is sinking under its own deficits.

Bloomberg: Global Warming Deal Decades Away  - With President Barack Obama struggling to salvage his energy agenda and richer and poorer nations in conflict over extending Kyoto's emission limits, a new worldwide climate treaty may be 20 years away, said Tim Wirth, who in 1997 led the U.S. delegation in Kyoto, Japan. Such a delay endangers the future of $2.7 billion a year in pollution credits sold under a UN program based on the Kyoto agreement.  "We have a dysfunctional Congress and an administration without policy," Wirth, a former Democratic senator from Colorado, said in an interview during two weeks of UN climate talks in Cancun, Mexico. "The U.S. doesn't have an energy strategy. You can't sign up to an international treaty unless you know what you are going to do at home."

Guardian UK: Loopholes Were left in and dates were left out. The World is in Limbo  ...They kept the wheels on the bus by reaching an agreement on Saturday, but it is still careering towards the precipice. In the overriding desire to get a deal - any deal - gaping loopholes and ambiguities were left in, dates were left out and major issues about the final legal form and the emission cuts all countries will need to make were pushed back another year. In effect, the world is in limbo. Take the money. The best news from Cancún for developing countries is that a new climate fund will be set up and be largely directed by them under the auspices of the UN, and not the World Bank. But the idea that it will handle the potentially giant flows of new aid which could accrue after 2020 ($100bn a year), is wrong.

WSJ Editorial: The Cancun Crack-Up  - The Biggest Climate Conference Achievement: Sun Tans. - How appropriate that the U.N.'s latest climate summit in the Mexican resort of Cancun should have begun last week with the invocation of an ancient jaguar goddess. When it comes to global warming, there's always been more than a touch of the old-time religion. Unfortunately for the climateers, the rest of the Maya pantheon doesn't seem to be cooperating. Since last year's collapse of the climate summit in Copenhagen, the chances that one of these periodic U.N. confabs would result in a binding global agreement on carbon caps was remote. The failure of the meeting in Cancun to produce one-which was all but official as we went to press last night-only underscores the point.

Wash. Post: Cancun: Great for Spring Break, not for Climate Negotiating - Over the years, Cancun has made its name as a freewheeling spring break hotspot where American college students take their reputations to die. So perhaps it is no surprise that the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference currently convened there has been so unproductive. Cancun is not a place to stop binging - on alcohol or on fossil fuels. Indeed, those assembled in Mexico can't even get agreement on inadequate, face-saving carbon-cutting measures.

WSJ: UN Climate talks end  - World leaders at a climate-change conference in Cancun, Mexico, made clear that addressing the issue will be all about money, agreeing that rich countries would spend potentially trillions of dollars to help poor countries develop on a greener path. ...But the diplomats postponed hashing out which rich countries would pay how much, and exactly what the poor countries would have to do to get the checks. Representatives from the Philippines, Dominican Republic and Mexico sat in the ocean to visually represent their negotiating positions. That is why international negotiations over climate policy amount to a game of economic chicken, with the world's major economies-notably China and the U.S.-trying to ensure they aren't stuck with the bulk of the cost of emission cuts.

National Journal: Fight over fate of Kyoto   - Nor did the Cancun deal lock in place the architecture for a binding global climate treaty to replace the world's first such treaty, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that expires in 2012. ...The biggest of these is the fight over the fate of the Kyoto treaty. That fight will escalate throughout 2011 and come to a head at next year's U.N. climate summit in Durban, South Africa. The Kyoto deal reflects the global economy as it was 20 years ago, divided between rich and developing nations. It binds about 40 of the world's richest nations to cutting their fossil fuel emissions but exempts developing nations - including China, India, and Brazil - from making similar commitments. The United States is exempt from the Kyoto, since it never ratified the treaty. Developing nations, led by China, want the next climate-change treaty to renew the terms of Kyoto. Developed nations, led by the United States, have made clear that they will never sign such a deal. They insist that any global treaty commit all the world's biggest emitters to pollution reductions, specifically China, which outstrips the United States as the world's biggest carbon polluter.

Wash. Post: The Climate-Change Conference's own Carbon Footprint  - This year's climate-change meeting in Cancun was a lot smaller than last year's gathering in Copenhagen. But like a Hobbit, Cancun's footprint was quite big for its size.  The meeting's carbon footprint was 25,000 metric tons of emissions, according to host nation Mexico. That includes the carbon output of everything - flights by delegates, shuttle rides from the swanky Moon Palace hotel, even food preparation. Here's a breakdown of the numbers:  25 heads of state attended; 2,457 air-conditioned rooms with double Jacuzzis at the main conference hotel;  $68 million  paid by the Mexican government to host the conference.