Tag Archives: James Inhofe

The Week In Green Energy: Greens Back But Still Under Attack

Obama is pushing for a green agenda (again).

Following a series of symbolic votes by the newly reenergized Republican Party, including one to repeal the health care law, this week saw a GOP-led effort to roll back the Environmental Protection Agency’s ambitious green agenda.

Three Republicans — Senator James Inhofe (R-Ok.), Representatives Fred Upton (D-Mich.) and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) released the latest legislation aimed at preventing the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases and carbon emissions.

The bill’s sponsors are both predictable and powerful. On the predictable front: Inhofe is one of Capitol Hill’s most passionate climate change denier and a proud supporter and beneficiary of oil and gas dollars.

And as for power: Upton, the new Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce committee, can ensure that the bill will get easier passage through the House.

In the weeks leading to his takeover of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Upton strategically communicated his doubts about climate change. It was surprising because he had been known for his more moderate stance on energy and climate change issues. The consensus view is that Upton needed to tilt to the right to ensure his committee chairmanship.

An industry source, who met Upton shortly after he took over the Energy and Commerce committee, told G.E.R. that the Michigan congressman is more moderate than his recent comments suggest. After all, his employment-challenged state has been reaping billion in government subsidies to ramp-up the electric car industry and he would have hard time opposing such support.

If enacted, the Inhofe-Upton-Whitfield bill would prevent the EPA from enacting a back door carbon tax a goal that even some moderate senate Democrats, like West Virginia’s Jay Rockefeller, laud.

Ironically, many of the moderate Democrats who oppose the EPA’s proposed regulations blanched at the prospect of passing comprehensive climate change legislation last year.

Two years ago, the Obama administration came into office with big goals. One was regulating and pricing carbon to curb emissions. Months into his administration, when it became clear Congress would not support his green agenda, Obama opted for the regulatory route.

Enter Lisa Jackson’s EPA, which, last year, in a milestone announcement, said the Clean Air act gave her agency the power to regulate carbon and greenhouse gases. The decision pleased environmentalist but angered the business sector, which had supported a cap-and-trade regime largely to avoid the regulatory option.

Despite the backlash, the agency still has some powerful friends in the Senate where Democrats still lead. So far Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has worked to protect the EPA. As a consequence, we don’t expect any Republican-sponsored bill to get anywhere in the senate, but it will generate some much needed discussion on the need to tackle problems legislatively as opposed to administratively.

While Republicans are working to anchor their carbon-friendly agenda, President Obama is surprisingly, pushing a clean energy agenda. We call it surprising because, with the Republican resurgence, we had expected the White House to tone down its green ambitions. But, following his state-of-the union call to out-perform, out-innovate, Obama announced cuts of oil and gas subsidies and the rollout of tax credits to encourage businesses to make their commercial buildings more energy efficient.

Underscoring how serious Obama is about reviving its stalled clean energy policy, earlier this week he met Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee. The meeting was noteworthy because — as we’ve reported Bingaman has been critical of the White House’s call for a lax Clean Energy Standard, that includes nuclear and clean coal. Bingaman has backed the much tighter Renewable Electricity Standard, which only includes solar, wind and other pure renewables. It’s not clear how the two men will resolve this difference but, following his meeting with President Obama, Bingaman said he would support the president’s agenda and work to get a clean energy standard signed into law.

VC and PE Watch

HydroVolts, a Seattle-based developer of hydropower turbines, secured $700,000 from more than 12 angel investors and one strategic partner, the company tells G.E.R.

Ramblings and Musings

In past week-in-reviews we’ve repeatedly warned that green energy policy was all but dead, at least for the next two years. Is it? A Clean Energy Standard, a meeting with a powerful Senator and for the first time in a long time, a mention by Obama of the dangers of climate change are good things ahead?

Watch President Watch Obama’s climate change mention:

Photo: Sugarpoppy, Flickr

Climate Change Bill: An Olympian Feat?

President Obama is off to Copenhagen without any assurances that he’ll get what he wants.

This isn’t a post from the future: Obama is heading to Denmark tonight to lobby the International Olympic Committee to give Chicago the 2016 Summer Games. But there are some similarities between this trip and December’s sortie for climate change talks.

Notably, the President and his advisors are at pains to keep expectations low for both. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said last week that Obama told other members of the G-20 that “while Copenhagen is a very important meeting we should not view it as a make or break on climate change.”

How does the Boxer – Kerry climate change bill, introduced yesterday, affect that calculus? FT’s Energy Source says the “smart money” is on legislative gridlock until the end of the year, “particularly because of the hard pounding over president Obama’s plans for healthcare reform.” And if Boxer – Kerry doesn’t move, Obama’s Copenhagen talk will be seen mostly as well-intentioned, but empty, rhetoric.

But we at GER think the bill is ready to move – and even see passage before December – for three key reasons. (Edit: OK, maybe we went a bit overboard with the timeline. Still, we’re optimistic.)

First, “the hard pounding” on health care has focused Obama’s detractors on that issue. The opposition to Obama’s “socialist agenda” is going to find it hard to get out of bed for a battle over climate change legislation, which lacks the pop and sizzle of “death panels.”

Second, the Boxer – Kerry Bill, with its 20 percent reduction by 2020 target, is more ambitious than the Waxman-Markey Bill that passed the house, with its 17 percent reduction target. Bloomberg’s analysis is that fewer emissions allowances in Kerry-Boxer mean that it will face a tougher fight. We believe it means that negotiators have a bargaining chip when reluctant legislators ask for concessions on behalf of industry.

Finally, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., wants to know how bill sponsor, Sen.Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., is going to ensure that China and India impose binding targets of their own. The simple answer to that is… Copenhagen! If Obama’s negotiators can bring a house bill and a senate measure that’s at least viable to Denmark, they’ll have a lot more leverage and authority to say that the United States is doing its part. That could motivate senators to move this bill.

Moving a climate change bill through the senate will, no doubt, be an Olympian feat. But the wind, as they say, is at Obama’s back.

UPDATE: Boxer Holds Vote Without Republicans, Inhofe Responds

UPDATE: Sen. Barbara Boxer held a vote this morning in the Environment and Public Works Committee without any Republicans present and has passed the climate change bill out of committee.

Montana Democrat Max Baucus, the chairman of the Finance Committee, voted against the measure leading Republican James Inhofe to declare “that bill is dead.”

ORIGINAL POST: Does the senate have any hope of passing a climate change bill before the Copenhagen talks on Dec. 7?

No. Maybe. We don’t know.

As of right now, the process is a disaster. Republicans, led by Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe, have boycotted the markup process in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee because they want a more extensive (and totally unnecessary) five-week EPA review of the bill.

Democratic Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer has threatened to conduct the markup without them.

(The above Tulsa World story has the fascinating and bizarre detail that Inhofe and Boxer were holding hands while talking about their long friendship. What this means we have no idea.)

So John Kerry, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham have stepped up and said they will start putting together a bill with the White House that can pass the senate. Grist’s David Roberts points out that it’s telling Kerry feels the need to write another bill to compete with the legislation he’s already written.

In any case, Roberts says, Boxer’s influence in the process appears to be waning, because too many senators want her to fail.

The Washington Post reports that Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada was always going to have to stitch together the bills after they pass through six committees full of bloviating obscurantists, so this new track of negotiations is not exactly surprising.

But, what of this new bill?

It seems like it will include more nuclear and offshore drilling provisions, which we expected after Kerry and Graham wrote an editorial in The New York Times saying they would include those.

But apparently cap and trade has become problematic for Republicans, which is probably why the Kerry-Boxer bill didn’t mention it in the first place.

That’s a pretty big problem, particularly when it comes time to reconcile the senate bill with the house measure, which includes a cap and trade provision.

GOP to Boycott Senate Climate Change Bill

James Inhofe Trying to Put the Brakes on Kerry - Boxer

Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee are not planing to participate in the markup of the Kerry – Boxer climate change bill, which Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) had scheduled for Tuesday.

Will this block the legislation? Senate rule requires that at least two Republicans participate in the markup session, reports CQ Politics. Boxer is circumventing that requirement by scheduling a “committee business meeting.” This will allow the Committee’s Democrats, which account for 12 of the Committee’s 19 members, to work on the bill without any Republicans present. Continue reading GOP to Boycott Senate Climate Change Bill

Climate Change Bill: An Olympian Feat?

President Obama is off to Copenhagen without any assurances that he’ll get what he wants.

This isn’t a post from the future: Obama is heading to Denmark tonight to lobby the International Olympic Committee to give Chicago the 2016 Summer Games. But there are some similarities between this trip and December’s sortie for climate change talks.

Notably, the President and his advisors are at pains to keep expectations low for both. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said last week that Obama told other members of the G-20 that “while Copenhagen is a very important meeting we should not view it as a make or break on climate change.”

How does the Boxer – Kerry climate change bill, introduced yesterday, affect that calculus? FT’s Energy Source says the “smart money” is on legislative gridlock until the end of the year, “particularly because of the hard pounding over president Obama’s plans for healthcare reform.” And if Boxer – Kerry doesn’t move, Obama’s Copenhagen talk will be seen mostly as well-intentioned, but empty, rhetoric.

But we at GER think the bill is ready to move – and even see passage before December – for three key reasons. (Edit: OK, maybe we went a bit overboard with the timeline. Still, we’re optimistic.)

First, “the hard pounding” on health care has focused Obama’s detractors on that issue. The opposition to Obama’s “socialist agenda” is going to find it hard to get out of bed for a battle over climate change legislation, which lacks the pop and sizzle of “death panels.”

Second, the Boxer – Kerry Bill, with its 20 percent reduction by 2020 target, is more ambitious than the Waxman-Markey Bill that passed the house, with its 17 percent reduction target. Bloomberg’s analysis is that fewer emissions allowances in Kerry-Boxer mean that it will face a tougher fight. We believe it means that negotiators have a bargaining chip when reluctant legislators ask for concessions on behalf of industry.

Finally, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., wants to know how bill sponsor, Sen.Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., is going to ensure that China and India impose binding targets of their own. The simple answer to that is… Copenhagen! If Obama’s negotiators can bring a house bill and a senate measure that’s at least viable to Denmark, they’ll have a lot more leverage and authority to say that the United States is doing its part. That could motivate senators to move this bill.

Moving a climate change bill through the senate will, no doubt, be an Olympian feat. But the wind, as they say, is at Obama’s back.