The Skywriter

DC Hill climate update, Inauguration week edition--1/23


DC Hill climate update, Inauguration week edition--1/23

Barack Obama is in the White House, his appointments are almost all confirmed, and everyone on the Hill is pushing a green recovery bill full steam ahead. We're at the cusp of an explosion of green investments, but we're keeping our eyes on the big picture, too.

Greening the stimulus (aka "Recovery")

Last Thursday (Jan.15) the House released a draft of the economic recovery bill . Here's a PDF of the bill summary and one of the full text. In the last week, relevant House committees have marked up the bill in ways that (for the most part) improved the bill. Some amendments of note (Source: subscription-only E&E news):

  • Decoupling amendment passed through the House Energy and Commerce Committee: Basically this lets utilities make money off of energy efficiency investments (which we support);

  • More money for clean energy bonds: Billions more for efficiency and renewable energy projects. Provisions were added that allow funds to be distributed directly to communities as well;

  • Funds usually guaranteed to renewable energy projects over 10 years, are now available up front as well.

So far, the bill has been clearing committee markups along party lines. As for the timing of the bill, it has now cleared all relevant House committees (as of yesterday). A floor vote scheduled for ~Wed, 1/28 in the House, so amendments can still be added. The Senate's timing is till TBD but it is set on passing the recovery package by Feb. 13.

1Sky is weighing in with a calls-to-Congress campaign to green the economic recovery. Simply click here and we'll connect you to your representative and Senators in Washington. For House calls, our ask is that members amend the bill to avoid investments in carbon like new roads and focus on public transport and green infrastructure, amongst other things. We'll direct calls to just the Senate once the House passes the bill. The House bill will be the blueprint for the Senate version.

Boxer to weigh in soon on climate bill

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) plans to weigh in soon on another climate bill. She plans on releasing a set of principles on climate, similar to those released by moderate Dems last spring. As Boxer said recently:

...the writing is on the wall that legislation to combat global warming is coming soon.

Boxer's statement was in reaction to Chairman Henry Waxman's statement last week announcing his intention to get a bill out of his House Energy and Commerce Committee by Memorial Day (so by May 23rd). There is general consensus that a House bill will likely be the next move on this, which is better for us. Meanwhile, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) is holding down a unique Republican position, arguing for an offset-free carbon tax coupled with 100% direct monthly dividends. He released a 2-page statement on this proposal earlier this week.

Obama climate appointments encounter GOP pushback

So far, Republican leaders have been pushing back on President Obama's appointments of Lisa Jackson (EPA), Hilda Solis (Dept. of Labor), Carol Browner (Climate Czar), and Nancy Sutley (Council on Environmental Quality -- CEQ). However, as of a couple hours ago, Jackson and Sutley have indeed been confirmed.

Lisa Jackson has promised to enact some bold rulings which have received heavy opposition from friends of fossil fuels. She supports:

  • Granting the California waiver, so CA can regulate tailpipe emissions from automobiles.

  • Enforcing the findings of Massachusetts vs. EPA, such that GHGs are regulated under the Clean Air Act. This is much less efficient than putting a price on carbon, but it's a great way to light a fire under Congress to get working on carbon legislation.

Hilda Solis supports union-friendly policies opposed by businesses. In the case of Carol Browner, some Senate Republicans are concerned with the lack of oversight vis-a-vis the "czar" position. Before her confirmation, an anonymous hold was put on Sutley's nomination, with no clear rationale given.

Hillary Clinton has been confirmed for Secretary of State, with near-unanimous support -- and great things to say about climate.

That's it for this week's policy update. If we missed anything, please share in the comments!

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