Tuesday, January 23, 2007

State of the Union Preview

Bush is expected to talk about a new greenhouse gas mitigation plan tonight. He’s talked about ending the “oil addiction”, increasing efficiency and shifting to cleaner energy sources in just about every SoU, but with a focus on voluntary action and little follow through in the way of policy. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with tonight. Some things to keep in mind as he talks:

  • the US Climate Action Partnership has released a report calling for mandatory regulation on GHG emissions – the group consists of Alcoa, BP America, Caterpillar, Duke Energy, DuPont, FPL Group, General Electric, Lehman Brothers, PG&E, and PNM Resources, along with 4 NGOs -- Environmental Defense, Natural Resources Defense Council, Pew Center, and World Resources Institute. They have said that they are doing this now, in part because they expect softer caps under Bush than they will get under the next administration

· there have been plenty of bills on GHG regulations put forward in Congress of late. PointCarbon North America offers a recap:

In the US, the new senate majority leader Harry Reid introduced a message bill on energy, designed to frame broad goals for upcoming legislation. This “National Energy and Environment Security Act of 2007” calls for mandatory greenhouse gas regulation, and according to Reid’s staff it implies cap-and-trade. With Democrats now holding a one-seat majority in the US senate, his staff predicted that by the end of January “we’ll see at least a dozen bills popping up that deal with carbon emissions, many of them from senior people like committee chairmen.”

Indeed, Senators Lieberman and McCain re-introduced their cap-and-trade proposal last Friday (see page 2), with a new co-sponsor – presidential hopeful Barak Obama. Yesterday former Senator Jeffords’ greenhouse gas cutting bill was reintroduced, and Senator Diane Feinstein’s office will release hers this week. Barbara Boxer, who heads the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, has indicated the climate change hearings she plans to hold will produce several proposals for regulating US emissions as well. Her first hearing on the issue will be held 30 January.

New faces in key positions on the state and regional level may accelerate progress toward carbon trading as well. Massachusetts’ new Governor Deval Patrick plans to bring his state, one of the biggest emitters in the northeastern US, back into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)

Hopefully these forces coming together, with the back drop of the wind storms in Europe, ice storms in Texas, etc. will spark some meaningful, decisive action. Stay going.