Archive for January 6th, 2011

House GOP offers bill to block EPA climate rules (Update)

January 6, 2011

Update: The Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin reports:

Three Republican House members — Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Shelley Moore Capito (W. Va.) and Ted Poe (Tex.) have each introduced separate bills aimed at blocking EPA from regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

The three measures hamstring the agency’s authority in different ways: Blackburn’s would “amend the Clean Air Act to provide that greenhouse gases are not subject to the Act,” even though the Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that they are; Capito’s would delay EPA from regulating carbon dioxide and methane for two years; and Poe’s would prohibit any agency funding “to be used to implement or enforce a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases.”

While Capito’s bill is the most modest of the bunch, the West Virginia lawmaker explained in a statement that she has introduced a more limited bill because she thinks it has enough votes to pass and block initiatives such as new EPA permitting requirements that now require major new greenhouse gas emitters to show how they would use the best available current technology to lower their carbon footprint.

The Hill reports,

Dozens of Republicans used the opening day of the new Congress on Wednesday to introduce legislation that would bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse-gas emissions.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, sponsored the bill. The measure’s 46 co-sponsors are all Republicans except for Rep. Dan Boren (D-Okla.).

Co-sponsors include Oversight and Government Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). Absent from the list at the moment: Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who is weighing his approach to stifling greenhouse-gas rules he alleges will burden the economy.

The bill would amend the Clean Air Act to declare that greenhouse gases are not subject to the law, according to a brief description in the Congressional Record…

What’s Fred Upton waiting for? Isn’t this what he said he wanted?

On the Senate side, meanwhile, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told Fox News yesterday,

“We are going to introduce legislation that says all regulations should sunset. If the EPA writes a regulation, it expires in six months, unless Congress votes on it and approves it.”

Let’s hope he presses hard for such legislation.

GE sued (more) over PCB clean-up

January 6, 2011

Poor, General Electric. The EPA makes the company spend hundreds of millions of dollars dredging the Hudson River to remove sediment-bound PCBs — something which everyone knew would stir-up the otherwise safely entombed chemical — and now the company is being sued for just that consequence.

According to CBS-6 (Albany),

SARATOGA — The Saratoga County Water Authority has filed a federal lawsuit against General Electric, seeking $27 million for the damages it says it incurred trying to avoid PCBs during GE’s dredging project in the Hudson River.

Law firm Dreyer Boyajian LLP said Thursday the Water Authority had to spend $27 million building a water treatment plant in the town of Moreau in order to stay upriver of the General Electric plants in Hudson Falls and Fort Edward plants and the PCB dredging project.

SCWA said the move was necessary to avoid possible PCB contamination in their water, as GE continues to dredge up the contaminants in a massive $500 million clean-up project.

PCBs are classified as the EPA as probably human carcinogens, associated with adverse effects on reproductive, endocrine, and immunological function.

Several town and villages within Saratoga County have already filed their own suits against GE for the damages and costs related to the PCB dredging project.

As this blog pointed out in August 2009,

Chalk up another green disaster, courtesy of:

  • RFK Jr, Planetary Zero. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and his activist group Riverkeeper pressured GE to undertake the clean-up. Ironically, Time magazine had declared Kennedy one of its “Heroes of the Planet” for his Hudson River activism.
  • Corporate Neville Chamberlain-ism. GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt who, in hopes of appeasing the greens, reversed former CEO Jack Welch’s policy against dredging; and.
  • Your gooberment at work. The EPA, which in forcing GE to dredge sediments that should have been left alone, failed its eponymous mission — environmental protection.

EPA may try cap-and-trade on its own

January 6, 2011

… and everyone thought cap-and-trade was dead. Sen. John Kerry said so. West Virginia Senate candidate Joe Manchin shot it in a campaign video.

Now comes news that the EPA may resurrect cap-and-trade via regulation under the Clean Air Act.

Carbon Control News (CCN) reported today that,

… EPA air chief Regina McCarthy has said that any [greenhouse gas] trading program using existing air law authority would have to be established under the [Clean Air Act Section 111(d) New Source Performance Standards (NSPS)] rather than other sections.

While McCarthy denied taking steps to advance this idea, CCN reports,

“The agency sought $5 million in its fiscal year 2011 budget ‘to assess and potentially develop NSPS regulations for major industrial sectors and seek, where possible, market-oriented mechanisms and flexibilities to provide lowest cost compliance options’ for reducing GHG emissions, according to EPA’s FY11 Annual Performance Plan. Sources have said EPA’s mention of market-oriented mechanisms is likely a reference to cap-and-trade programs.”

A limitation of cap-and-trade under the NSPS would be that,

… it can only operate within specific industry sectors, rather than operate economy-wide like the trading program that would have been established under legislative proposals for a climate cap-and-trade program introduced in the 111th Congress.

But you can bet that the first industry sector to be regulated would be electric power generators, which would have economy-wide impacts.

Let’s hope that the Republican-controlled House zeroes out any funding the EPA requests for bringing a cap-and-trade Frankenstein to life.

Wimp & Sellout Watch — No. 2

January 6, 2011

While we have high hopes that the newly empowered Republican Members of Congress will make every effort to fight the socialization of America, we are also aware that the GOP has an ignominious history of wimping- and/or selling-out, especially on environmental issues. Wimp & Sellout Watch is GreenHellBlog’s effort to spotlight the GOP’s weak links because:

In the 112th Congress, it should take more courage for GOP-ers to retreat than to advance.

Today’s update on potential wimps and sellouts to watch:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC). According to a report in today’s E&E Daily, Graham told South Carolina reporters that,

“I think $4 a gallon for gas is coming and is an opportunity to re-engage on the energy policy. … Four dollars a gallon for gas is going to reignite this debate… [At $4 gasoline] everybody is tripping over themselves to find an energy policy.”

So Graham is trying to use the current rise in gasoline prices as a reason for his coming “clean energy standard” bill which would put a cap on carbon emissions. But the primary sources of energy that would be affected by such legislation — i.e., coal, solar & wind — have nothing to do with the price of gasoline. A carbon cap, moreover, would make gasoline even more expensive. Keep in mind that USCAP member General Electric has a wind turbine manufacturing plant in Greenville, SC.

For more on Graham, see Wimp & Sellout Watch — No. 1.

Rob Portman (OH). The global warming industry is gazing fondly at new Ohio Sen. Rob Portman. Apparently taking note of former Ohio Sen. George Voinovich’s identification of Portman as a moderate who will do business with Democrats, E&E Daily reports that,

[Portman] has also been floated by the Obama White House and Democrats as someone across the aisle who may be open to negotiations on several issues, including energy and environmental policy.

In addition to Portman being named to the Senate Republican whip team, E&E Daily also reported that,

Kayaking and outdoor trips are passions that Portman shares with Dan Reicher, his former roommate at Dartmouth College who is a former assistant secretary for energy in the Clinton administration, a clean energy adviser on President Obama’s transition team and director of climate change and energy initiatives for Google.

Reicher, now head of Stanford University’s new Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, declined to comment on Portman, explaining he was a “good friend.”

E&E Daily omitted mentioning that Reicher was also a senior attorney at the radical Natural Resources Defense Council where he specialized in anti-nuclear activities. In 1990, Reicher almost snuck into a position with the White House Council on Environmental Quality in the George H.W. Bush administration. But he was exposed a week or so before he was to begin work, and his appointment was cancelled.

Portman also received significant campaign contributions from USCAP members General Electric Co. ($59,510) and Duke Energy Corp. ($32,000).

For more on Portman, see Wimp & Sellout Watch — No. 1.