Friday, June 12, 2009

EPW Republicans Call on EPA to Provide Realistic Analysis to Waxman-Markey Bill

During Tuesday's EPW Committee hearing, Senator Inhofe announced that he and several of his Republican colleagues on the committee sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson requesting new analysis be conducted on Waxman-Markey, H.R. 2454, “The American Clean Energy and Security Act” (ACESA), that reflects more realistic assumptions. Senator Inhofe asked Administrator Jackson to complete the analysis by June 26, 2009. 

Text of the Letter Below:

June 9, 2009

The Honorable Lisa JacksonAdministratorEnvironmental Protection AgencyAriel Rios Federal Building1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20460


Dear Administrator Jackson:


Addressing global climate change may prove to be one of the costliest undertakings in U.S. history.  Some estimates place the total economic footprint of legislation in the trillions of dollars.  Most of these costs will be passed on to families, farmers, drivers and workers in the form of higher prices for power, gasoline, diesel, food, and other consumer goods, as well as lost jobs.  Furthermore, this extraordinary cost will not be borne equally throughout our country – with some regions (notably the Midwest and the Southeast) impacted two or three times as much as others.  Particularly in light of the country’s currently depressed economic condition and the critical impact energy and manufacturing cost increases can have on recovery, it is essential that Congress have objective, well-grounded economic analysis of the impacts such legislation will have on American consumers and the economy. 


We appreciate past efforts of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in providing credible economic analyses of global warming legislation.  However, we are concerned that in its analysis of H.R. 2454, “The American Clean Energy and Security Act” (ACESA), EPA is not considering realistic scenarios of our nation’s energy future, and as a result, paints an inaccurate picture of the potential economic consequences arising from mandatory greenhouse gas emission controls. 


In EPA’s recent modeling, the agency identified a number of modeled and un-modeled uncertainties that could greatly affect the total cost and benefits of the program.  But EPA’s assumptions around these uncertainties do not reflect current practical, policy, and political realities or the multiple mandates and requirements contained in the proposal, including:



OFFSET AVAILABILITY – EPA assumes the availability of over 1.5 billion international allowances every year through the offset program.  Without these billions of additional offset allowances, EPA estimated that the price of carbon allowances would almost double.  This doubling would lead to drastically higher energy prices for Americans. However, the record of current international programs comes nowhere near the number of international offset allowances EPA assumes. To date, the offset program of the Kyoto Protocol (the Clean Development Mechanism) has produced only roughly 200 million allowances per year.   Projects in the pipeline, if approved, will yield 2.9 billion allowances through 2012, or an average of just over 400 million per year.  These are both far below the 1.5 billion or more EPA predicts per year.  While new mandates will incentivize generation of additional offset allowances, the U.S. will face competition from other countries under a new international agreement that will limit the supply of available offsets and increase their costs. Furthermore, EPA assumes the ability to overcome a near impossible administrative burden necessitated by reviewing and approving 15,000 projects that average 100,000 tons each to reach a 1.5 billion ton annual total.  We request that EPA replace its offset assumptions with those dictated by actual experience with offsets and the practical, real-world constraints that will limit their availability.



TECHNOLOGY AVAILABILITY – EPA assumes that carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology for coal-fired power plants comes online in 2015 and is deployed at both new and existing plants.  At the moment, no technology vendor is willing to provide CCS technology performance guarantees as is standard in the industry and required for construction financing.  In addition, DOE on April 21st recently confirmed that for larger scale (commercial scale) CCS projects, these projects take 10 or more years to complete, and may require more time because they are complex in terms of site selection, characterization, CO2 injection and post-injection monitoring. The Acid Rain cap and trade program succeeded because there was a readily available alternative fuel source, low sulfur coal, and proven scrubber technology to remove SO2.  Currently, there is no proven CO2 removal technology for large-scale coal-fired power plants.  Without available and reliable technology to remove carbon from coal emissions, American consumers, especially in the Midwest and South will face dramatically higher power prices and job losses, as the Nation must convert half of its electricity generation from coal to limited or expensive sources such as natural gas, solar or wind.  We request that EPA’s assumptions of the availability of CCS technology account for the practical difficulties associated with large-scale deployment of CCS and conform to more modest projections of CCS availability established by current leading, non-partisan energy modeling analysis.        



OVERLAPPING REQUIREMENTS – A cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, combined with a renewable electricity standard (RES) requirement, an energy efficiency resource standard requirement (EERS), and new stationary source emissions requirements, creates a system of overlapping and redundant requirements that may inhibit cost-effective emissions reductions.  While EPA assumed the savings produced from future energy efficiency and clean energy technology, it apparently overlooked the costs of developing and deploying those technologies and the impacts those costs will have on consumers.  Moreover, EPA’s analysis sidesteps the costs and time necessary to deploy new transmission capacity to send renewable power from where it is generated, such as in the Great Plains, to where it is needed, such as in the South.  Also uncertain is the degree to which EPA factored the additive costs of regulation on both process emissions and carbon content on products from gasoline to cement.  We request that EPA include in its analysis both the benefits and the costs of overlapping requirements in the legislation.



NUCLEAR POWER AVAILABILITY –   EPA assumes in its analysis that only 6 gigawatts of new nuclear generation will be built in the U.S. over the next 10 years.  Past modeling of Lieberman Warner by EPA had assumed a much greater role for nuclear-- 24 gigawatts by 2020 and 44 gigawatts by 2025-- as opposed to only 13 gigawatts that this model indicates through 2025.  Please explain the discrepancy between this year’s inputs as opposed to last year and the justifications for further restraints on new nuclear fired generation.



LACK OF REGIONAL ANAYLSIS – The model does not account for regional disparities that will result with implementation of any cap and trade program.  Consumers in areas of the country that are more dependent on coal-fired electricity generation, such as the Midwest and the South, will be disproportionately affected compared to other geographic areas which contain more renewable or gas-fired generation.  These impacts will be greatly exacerbated if the assumptions underlying the assumed cost savings resulting from offset utilization, technology availability, or nuclear power availability, as outlined above, do not materialize.  We request that EPA include in its analysis how the legislation will impact regions of the U.S. such as the East Coast, Midwest, South, Great Plains, Mountain West and West Coast and present that information accordingly. 


We believe updating and incorporating this information into EPA’s model will provide a more realistic picture of the potential impacts the ACESA could have on American consumers.  Moreover, we believe taking this step will fulfill your commitment as EPA Administrator to transparency and openness.  In a memo to agency employees, you pledged that EPA would “consider the views and data presented carefully and objectively, and that we fully disclose the information that forms the bases for our decisions.” 


With this in mind, we request that your agency respond to each of the above points in your model by June 26th so that we may be confident that EPA is providing a reliable and realistic analysis.  Once a feasible and realistic set of assumptions and analytical methods is achieved, we hope to engage you in further analysis of this legislation. 




Senator James Inhofe

Senator Kit Bond

Senator Mike Crapo

Senator George Voinovich

Senator David Vitter    

Inhofe Expresses Opposition to New Obama Mountain-top Mining Policy

On Thursday, Senator Inhofe expressed opposition to a new Obama administration policy that would restrict local economic development in the Appalachian region.

“The Obama administration is putting 77,000 good-paying jobs at risk, particularly those in the Appalachian coal region, where communities rely on mountaintop mining to fund their schools and other services,” Sen. Inhofe said.  “We can’t forget, too, that mountaintop mining is a vitally important economic activity, as it provides a significant portion of the coal that contributes nearly 50 percent of the nation’s electricity.  This policy puts this important resource and our energy security at risk. I am further disappointed that the administration, which prides itself on openness and transparency, continues to keep Congress in the dark when devising new policies that have significant economic impacts. At an EPW Committee hearing on transparency just this week, I told Administrator Lisa Jackson that  transparency and openness are ‘not winning the day’ at EPA. Today’s announcement is the latest example of an administration that says one thing, but does another.”


Senator Inhofe sent a letter on Monday, April 21, 2009 to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson requesting information on the delay of Clean Water Act permits for mountaintop mining projects. The letter was in response to the delayed issuance of six Clean Water Act permits, as well as the impending review of 200 additional permits. Sen. Inhofe expressed concern over the criteria EPA are using to re-evaluate and review pending permits. EPA responded in a May 6, 2009 letter.  Link to EPA Responses

EPW Fact of the Day: Green Dystopia

It’s a common (green) refrain: pass cap-and-trade legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent and the ineluctable result is a growing economy, greater prosperity, and green jobs galore.  “If the American Clean Energy and Security Act were enacted tomorrow,” Frances Beinecke, president of NRDC, said, “millions of clean energy jobs would be created, starting right away.”  Worried about the drought in capital investment?  How about corporate profits? Beinecke says pass cap-and-trade. “[Waxman-Markey] will unlock large-scale private sector capital investments starting today, saving companies money in the short and long term and boosting the recovery.”  Want to encourage technology innovation?  Strengthen energy security?  Restore the balance of trade?  End world hunger?  Enact cap-and-trade, the green unified field theory: “Properly designed legislation,” declared Beinecke, “will encourage innovation, enhance America’s energy security, foster economic growth, improve our balance of trade, and provide critically needed U.S. leadership on this vital global challenge.”

FACT: Such noble sentiments provide a captivating story about cap-and-trade—except for the fact that they are false.  In a study on the costs of Waxman-Markey for the National Black Chamber of Commerce, CRA International explained why: “This analysis reveals that businesses and consumers would face higher energy and transportation costs under ACESA, which would lead to increased costs of other goods and services throughout the economy. As the costs of goods and services rise, household disposable income and household consumption would fall. Wages and returns on investment would also fall, resulting in lower productivity growth and reduced employment opportunities.”

CRA says cap-and-trade would in fact create green jobs, but green job enthusiasts fail to balance their employment equation: “The present study finds that the cap-and-trade program would lead to increases in spending on energy efficiency and renewable energy, and as a result that significant numbers of people would be employed in ‘green jobs’ that would not exist in a no-carbon policy world. However, any calculation of jobs created in these activities is incomplete if not supplemented with a calculation of the reduced employment in other industries and the decline in the average salary that would result from the associated higher energy costs and lower overall productivity in the economy.”   

In short, CRA found that “even after accounting for green jobs, there is a substantial and long-term net reduction in total labor earnings and employment.”  CRA also argues that this result is the logical outcome of energy rationing policies.  “This is the unintended but predictable consequence of investing to create a 'green energy future.’” 

Finally, CRA explains that cold, hard reality is the obstacle to achieving the utopian hopes of America’s green energy future.  CRA thus offers up some sobering conclusions for cap-and-trade proponents: “Claims that GHG cap-and-trade can boost total employment have become commonplace.  This contention has become a central point in the national debate about climate policy. That it has is understandable; the U.S. economy is undergoing both a cyclical downturn and a structural adjustment. Unemployment is high, and so is political pressure to respond to both the short-term cyclical and to the long-term structural aspects of the challenge. Not surprisingly, this pressure has led to claims and hopes that GHG cap-and-trade might somehow solve both problems. These claims are incorrect, and the hopes that spring from them are destined to lead to disappointment. ACESA can have no impact on the unemployment arising from the current cyclical downturn because its provisions will not take effect soon enough. In the longer run, its net effects on employment will be negative…” 

Link to CRA Study

Link to Beinecke Testimony

EPW Fact of the Day: Dr. Carbon Will See You Now

Proponents of carbon regulation claim that it will extend only to “big polluters,” or large sources such as power plants and refineries, and any claims to the contrary—for example, that EPA’s tentacles will reach into every corner of the economy—are dismissed as so much fear mongering.   Hence EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who, according to Business Week, “chuckled at the dire predictions from opponents of such regulation.”  As Jackson said earlier this year, “Depending on who’s painting the picture, [we are told] EPA will regulate cows, Dunkin’ Donuts, Pizza Hut, your lawnmower and baby bottles.” “I haven’t figured out why baby bottles yet, but…just throw it in there. Somebody said to me today, ‘kittens’—I like that one.”  (For the record, so do we.)  And as for the notion that EPA’s tentacles could reach far and wide, Jackson said, “It is a myth.”   In other words, pay no mind to those pesky Clean Air Act lawyers and cap-and-trade doomsayers who argue that greenhouse gas regulation could cover, say, hospitals. 

FACT: But if the experience of British Columbia is any guide—and it should be, considering the affinity its government and the leaders of ours have for carbon regulation—Dr. Carbon is ready to see you now.  According to Vancouver’s Surrey North Delta Leader, in a story headlined “Carbon Costs Add to Health Regions’ Woes,” health authorities in British Columbia “will have to dig more than $4 million a year out of their already stretched budgets to pay British Columbia’s carbon tax and offset their carbon footprints.”  The paper quotes one Adrian Dix, a member of the Vancouver Legislative Assembly, who said, “You have public hospitals cutting services to pay a tax that goes to another 100 percent government-owned agency.  That just doesn’t make sense.”   The paper reports that the Fraser Health Authority in Vancouver will pay “$616,000 in carbon taxes this year, rising to $821,000 next year.”  And by 2010, it will be paying “$1.3 million a year to the province's Pacific Carbon Trust to offset its projected 52,600 tons of carbon emissions.”  What’s more, the “Vancouver Coastal Health Authority also expects its costs will be close to $2 million next year in combined carbon tax and offset payments.”  The paper found that “Fraser Health officials are grappling with a budget shortfall of more than $100 million and potential cuts to patient services, while low on their list, have not been ruled out.”  Seems like a prescription for disaster.

EPW Fact of the Day: Liberals Take Aim at Hydraulic Fracturing

As Ian Talley of the Dow Jones Newswire reports this week, U.S. lawmakers Tuesday unveiled a bill that “industry warns could prevent development of trillions of cubic feet of natural gas by putting regulation of a key production technique under federal oversight.” In EPACT 05, Senator Inhofe successfully included a provision to clarify that hydraulic fracturing was not to be regulated by the EPA under the Safe Drinking Water Act.  This was in response to a 2004 EPA report which concluded that hydraulic fracturing poses minimal threat to underground drinking water and that no further study of the issue was warranted. Current efforts to target hydraulic fracturing come from legislation introduced by Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., and in the Senate, by Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

Fact: The regulation of oil and gas exploration and production activities, including hydraulic fracturing occurs at the state level.  The states have adopted comprehensive laws and regulations to provide for safe operations to protect the nation’s drinking water sources, and have trained personnel to effectively regulate oil and gas exploration and production. 

As Rep. Dan Boren, D-Muskogee, pointed out in the Oklahoman this week, hydraulic fracturing had been used in an estimated 1 million wells and had not posed any problems to drinking water. In fact, approximately 35,000 wells are hydraulically fractured annually in the United States and close to one million wells have been hydraulically fractured in the United States since the technique’s inception, with no known harm to groundwater.

Further, the Ground Water Protection Council has consistently found that states have adopted comprehensive laws and regulations to provide for safe operations to protect the nation’s drinking water sources as its report for the U.S. Department of Energy released May 28, 2009 reports. 

It is unclear how much support the proposal could get in Congress or from the White House. Prospects of the bill do look grim at this point as Tally reports that, “Pressed at a recent congressional hearing, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson said her office would review the EPA's previous decisions not to push for federal regulation.”  Further, Talley writes that “Under Carol Browner, currently President Barack Obama's energy and climate czar, the EPA in the mid-1990s decided that federal regulation was unnecessary. ‘There is no evidence that the hydraulic fracturing at issue has resulted in any contamination or endangerment of underground sources of drinking water,’ Browner wrote in 1995 as head of the EPA in a letter rejecting federal oversight of a potentially precedent-setting case in Alabama.”

American Farm Bureau: "Rural areas in general will also face significant adverse affects from climate change legislation"

In March, the House Agriculture Committee sent a lengthy questionnaire on various aspects of climate change policy to members of the agricultural community.  The committee cast a wide net, having sent questions to “a diverse group, including commodity, conservation, forestry, research, energy, business, and nonprofit interests.”  The questions covered everything from allowance allocation, offsets, commodities trading, and regional economic impacts (the responses are posted here: That last topic piqued our curiosity, as it is incontestably clear that cap-and-trade harms consumers in the Midwest, Southeast, and Great Plains—regions that are heavily rural and coal-dependent—much more so than denizens of the East and West coasts. 

In reading through the answers, one finds serious concerns from farmers about what cap-and-trade would mean for rural communities.  The following response from the American Farm Bureau Federation on this topic illustrates why members representing rural districts are leery of, if not outright opposed to, cap-and-trade: it will raise prices for farm implements, fertilizer, fuels, and food—all of which could stifle agricultural production, destroying jobs and devastating rural communities.

[From the Questionnaire] "Will enactment of a carbon reduction program have negative impacts for regions or populations whose welfare is of special interest to the agricultural community?  Such groups could include: residents of rural areas; populations served by USDA nutrition programs; agricultural producers and forest landowners; or input, transportation, and processing sectors of agricultural and forest products."

AFBF: “As a general farm organization with a national constituency, this question is of extreme importance for us and our members.  In some ways, farmers, ranchers, and rural residents will be more adversely affected than other sectors.  Farming is an energy-intensive industry that will be hit hard by higher energy, fertilizer, and fuel costs that are predicted with any of the climate change legislative proposals we have seen to date.  If related agricultural industries, such as fertilizer producers, implement dealers and rural energy producers incur highers costs, make layoffs, or go out of business, America’s farmers and ranchers will face further adverse effects.  It is important to keep in mind that unlike many other industries, higher input costs in agriculture cannot be passed on to consumers.”

“Rural areas in general will also face significant adverse affects from climate change legislation.  Rural residents have to drive longer distances and have no access to public transportation alternatives, so fuel cost increases will have a greater impact than in urban areas.  Increased energy costs will have an especially negative impact on the rural poor, who pay a higher proportionate share of their income for these necessities.”

“It is also important to note that not all agricultural sectors will be impacted equally.  While costs will rise for all of agriculture, some agricultural goods—and the parts of the country where those goods are produced—will feel the impacts more severely.  A Doane Advisory Services study of the Lieberman-Warner bill provides a useful illustration of this point.  This study finds that all major crops will experience an increase in input costs as a result of the legislation, but some crops are hit harder than others.  While soybean producers are predicted to face $10-20 per acre increases in production costs, rice growers will have to contend with enormous input cost increases of $79-153 per acre.  Corn production cost increases are pegged at $40-78 per acre.  The result of these increases could be devastating to some crops and could lead to dramatic shifts in what is produced on our agricultural land in this country.  Given the public reaction to food price increases in 2008, it is not unreasonable to believe that the loss of agricultural production acres or the shift away from some crops that are critical to the food, feed or fuel supply in this country could have adverse effects throughout the U.S. economy.” 

News Round- Up: "Ag Committee Gives Climate Bill the Cold Shoulder" - "House Ag Chairman: EPA Stay Out of Agriculture" -"Vilsack Declines to Endorse Far-Reaching House Bill"

EPW News Round-Up from House Ag Hearing

Vilsack Declines to Endorse Far-Reaching House Bill – Oklahoman – June 12, 2009 Link

WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack declined Thursday to endorse a far-reaching House bill to curb greenhouse gas emissions. An Oklahoma congressman said it would "destroy” farmers’ livelihoods. Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne, repeatedly pressed Vilsack at a hearing to take a stand on the bill. At one point, he asked Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa, whether he would vote for it if he were a congressman representing Iowa. Vilsack didn’t answer the question directly. He said it was up to lawmakers to write the bill and that more work could be done to improve it. But Lucas, the top Republican on the House Agriculture Committee, said House Democratic leaders weren’t allowing any more work to be done on the bill and that they may bring it up for a vote later this month. 

Democrats and Republicans Denounce Waxman-Markey Climate Change Bill in House Ag Committee Hearing – Oklahoma Farm Report – June 12, 2009 Link

The House Agriculture Committee held a hearing Thursday on the much talked about Waxman-Markey climate change and energy legislation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Committee Chairman Henry Waxman want to push the bill through rather quickly. But, Ranking Member, Frank Lucas, said – the most important thing we can do for our agriculture community is allow the legislative process to work, to take the time to understand the consequences of our actions. Lucas said here we are today with our first public hearing to consider a bill that is written to last forever. This is a bill that is enormous in size and consequence that has the potential to permanently damage the standard of living for every man, woman, and child for decades to come. Lucas pointed out that the cap-and-trade part of the bill - creates a national energy tax that will do more harm to production agriculture, American industry, and our standard of living than it will do any good for the environment. As for its affect on agriculture, Lucas said - I cannot support a bill that will damage an industry that consistently provides America and the world with an abundant and affordable food and fiber supply. The lead witness in the hearing was Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who was in front of the lawmakers for just over three hours. He not only was told that this bill was unacceptable by the Republicans, but House Democrats got their licks in as well. In fact, House Ag Democrats and Republicans told Secretary Vilsack there will be no climate change bill - or none agriculture can live with - unless the Administration forces changes in the pending measure approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. 

Ag Committee Gives Climate Bill the Cold Shoulder – Agriculture Online – June 12, 2009  Link

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was grilled for hours Thursday by a House Agriculture Committee that seems united across party lines in opposing the current form of a climate change bill written by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. And none of the farm group leaders who testified to the committee said their organizations would support the bill, either, unless agriculture and forestry are allowed to sell carbon credits, or offsets, to industries with large greenhouse gas output. And, if the bill is changed to include agricultural credits, all oppose putting the Environmental Protection Agency in charge of it. Vilsack said that he believes farmers and ranchers will have the potential to benefit more from carbon trading than they will be hurt by rising costs for fertilizer and fuel that will come with a law designed to lower the release of greenhouse gases. 

House Ag Chairman: EPA Stay Out of Agriculture – Top Producer – June 12, 2009  Link  

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) needs to stay out of farm policy, says House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.). Without that concession in the final draft of any climate change bill, he will not support it, Peterson said in an exclusive interview with Top Producer on Wednesday morning. With current language in the The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES), Peterson’s opposition to the bill is echoed almost universally by agricultural groups. ACES, sponsored by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and fellow Democrat Ed Markey of Massachusetts, who chairs the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, was introduced in late March. So far, work between the Agriculture Committee staff and the Energy and Commerce Committee staff has not produced the results Peterson wants in order to put his support behind the bill, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants resolved by the Fourth of July. At issue is the Supreme Court ruling mandating reduction in greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. Without legislation, this means the EPA will regulate emissions. The current language in ACES also grants this authority to EPA, and Peterson is unbending in his opposition to this provision. 

Cap-and-trade Faces Ag Foes : Farm Interests 'left behind,' Herseth Sandlin says – Argus Leader – June 11, 2009   Link

A climate-change bill that won approval from the House Energy and Commerce Committee isn't getting the same reception from rural lawmakers.When members of the House Agriculture Committee hold a hearing today, many of them - Republican and Democrat - are expected to pick apart a measure driven by urban interests, one that they say practically ignores farming interests.Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., said she'll vote against the bill unless it undergoes major changes. Other rural Democrats, such as Minnesota Rep. Colin Peterson, who leads the agriculture panel, also have indicated their opposition, potentially dooming the "cap-and-trade" initiative championed by President Obama "Cap-and-trade holds the potential for some real economic opportunity for South Dakota," Herseth Sandlin said. "But I share some of the concerns of my colleagues that if we move on this too quickly and we don't structure and design it appropriately, certain interests, including agriculture, will be left behind." The Energy and Commerce Committee approved the climate change bill last month, 33-25, on a mostly party-line vote. Several other House committees, including Agriculture, are expected to hold hearings on the measure. The proposal would cut greenhouse gases by 17 percent during the next decade. Companies, particularly coal-burning power plants, would have to spend money on technology to reduce global-warming emissions or be forced to bid for pollution allowances from emitters. Those allowances would be well below new standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Lawmakers in Farm Belt Try to Steer Climate Bill – The Wall Street Journal – June 12, 2009 Link

Farm Belt lawmakers said Thursday that the climate legislation in the House may not get the votes to pass unless it is made more farm-friendly. The warning, sounded by Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D., Minn.), presents a new obstacle to the White House's effort to get a bill passed this year. The objecting lawmakers -- both Democrat and Republican -- used a hearing of the House Agricultural Committee to call for changes in the bill that, if adopted, could steer more money to farmers who engage in environmentally friendly practices. The lawmakers are also seeking to blunt potentially tough new regulation of the biofuels industry. The move follows successful efforts by lawmakers from industrial and coal states to win free pollution permits for coal-fired power generators and other industries under a system proposed in the bill that would also cap greenhouse-gas emissions.House leaders want a full House vote on the Waxman-Markey bill in the next few weeks so they can turn their attention to health-care legislation. The timetable could give lawmakers who object to provisions in the more-than-900-page bill leverage to demand further changes. Thursday's hearing also previews the struggle ahead in the Senate, which has yet to take up climate legislation and where rural states have even greater influence. 

Also See:

EPW POLICY BEAT: DOWN ON THE FARM – Inhofe EPW Press Blog - June 11, 2009 Link

In March, the House Agriculture Committee sent a lengthy questionnaire on various aspects of climate change policy to members of the agricultural community.  The committee cast a wide net, having sent questions to “a diverse group, including commodity, conservation, forestry, research, energy, business, and nonprofit interests.”  The questions covered everything from allowance allocation, offsets, commodities trading, and regional economic impacts (the responses are posted here: That last topic piqued our curiosity, as it is incontestably clear that cap-and-trade harms consumers in the Midwest, Southeast, and Great Plains—regions that are heavily rural and coal-dependent—much more so than denizens of the East and West coasts.  In reading through the answers, one finds serious concerns from farmers about what cap-and-trade would mean for rural communities.  The following response from the American Farm Bureau Federation on this topic illustrates why members representing rural districts are leery of, if not outright opposed to, cap-and-trade: it will raise prices for farm implements, fertilizer, fuels, and food—all of which could stifle agricultural production, destroying jobs and devastating rural communities.

Watch YouTube: Inhofe, Barrasso Question Role of White House Climate Czar

Watch Barrasso YouTube Clip

During Tuesday’s EPW hearing on Scientific Integrity and Transparency, Senator Inhofe said that transparency and openness are “not winning the day” at EPA, and that he was "troubled to read about the secretive process behind the administration's recent proposal for new fuel economy standards (GOP senators grill Jackson on closed-door negotiations).”

Senator Barrasso (R-WY)  also asked EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson about “the shadow cabinet position of Energy and Climate Czar” and specifically asked about a recent New York Times piece highlighting secret meetings involving Carol Browner, Mary Nichols and the lack of accountability by the EPA.

Senator Barrasso said such secrecy was unacceptable and once again called on the Majority to conduct hearings to investigate the role of the White House Energy and Climate Czar. Barrasso added, “This has been a long standing verbal request of mine that has not yet been granted by the Majority.  We need officials in government that are accountable.  We should shed light on the practice of hidden meetings, and secret agendas. It is the job of this committee to see that happens.” Full Barrasso Opening Statement As Prepared For Delivery