Loaded With Concessions, Climate Bill Wins Backing of Oil Companies

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Friday, April 23, 2010 at 10:38 am

Kate Sheppard has some big news on the Senate climate bill, expected to drop Monday, following a conference call with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), one of three senators working on the bill.

The good news for environmentalists: Three of the country’s big five oil companies have agreed to support the bill, as has the Edison Electric Institute, the leading utility industry group. While EEI did eventually support the House climate bill that passed last June, the oil industry was largely in opposition, so this news could help bring oil-state senators like Mary Landrieu (D-La.) on board, particularly since Kerry thinks the American Petroleum Institute will stop running ads bashing the legislation.

The bad news for green advocates: This new support comes at a steep price, with heavy concessions to oil, agriculture, industry and dirty energy. Kate has the rundown:

  • The bill would remove the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act, and the states’ authority to set tougher emissions standards than the federal government.
  • There will be no fee—or “gas tax”—on transportation fuels. Instead, oil companies would also be required to obtain pollution permits but will not trade them on the market like other polluters. How this would work is not yet clear.
  • Agriculture would be entirely exempt from the cap on carbon emissions.
  • Manufacturers would not be included under a cap on greenhouse gases until 2016.
  • The bill would provide government-backed loan guarantees for the construction of 12 new nuclear power plants.
  • It will contain at least $10 billion to develop technologies to capture and store emissions from coal-fired power plants.
  • There will be new financial incentives for natural gas.
  • The bill would place an upper and lower limit on the price of pollution permits, known as a hard price collar. Businesses like this idea because it ensures a stable price on carbon. Environmental advocates don’t like the idea because if the ceiling is set too low, industry will have no financial incentive to move to cleaner forms of energy.
  • The energy bill passed by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee last year will be adopted in full. This measure has sparked concerns among environmentalists for its handouts to nuclear and fossil fuel interests.

Most of this isn’t terribly surprising, although environmentalists had been hoping — without much optimism — that the preemption of EPA and state regulatory authority wouldn’t be included in the final bill. As Kate notes, enviros also hate the Bingaman-Murkowski energy bill that will now be incorporated in full.

Is this enough for some liberal groups to withhold their support? Probably — although the mainstream of the environmental movement is likely to bite the bullet and throw its weight behind the country’s best chance to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

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strangely_enough
Comment posted April 23, 2010 @ 4:17 pm

Another day, another sell out to big business.

The bill would provide government-backed loan guarantees for the construction of 12 new nuclear power plants.

And, a quite expensive one.


devonnoll
Comment posted April 23, 2010 @ 4:28 pm

I wish I could say I was surprised by this bill, but of course, as always, it is corporations over the people of this nation. This bill will seal our fate in the future, and only our grandchildren will live to rue the day that this piece of garbage (literally) was allowed to see the light of day. There are so many better ways to deal with this problem, and it must be dealt with now and correctly, because if we do not act now there will be no going back. We are at a tipping point – the energy industry and the oil industry both know this – and once they pass it, only the rest of us will suffer for generations to come. This bill will guarantee the wealth of the leaders of this industry, and the destruction of humanity if it stands. Contact your Senators and Representatives NOW and demand that they scrap this bill and start over, or paying off a national debt will be the least of our children's and grandchildren's problems in the future!


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beachmom
Comment posted April 23, 2010 @ 8:16 pm

Here is a less pessimistic viewpoint by a Harvard environmental economist:

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opi…

He argues that the federal government MUST preempt state laws because even if that state has more stringent rules, only a national plan will be effective:

“If federal climate policy comes into force, the more stringent California policy will accomplish no additional reductions in greenhouse gases. This is because under a nationwide cap-and-trade system, any additional emission reductions achieved in California will be offset by fewer reductions in other states.

A national cap-and-trade system — which is needed to address emissions meaningfully and cost-effectively — will undo the effects of a more stringent cap within any state or group of states. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which covers only electricity generation and which will be less stringent than the federal policy, will be irrelevant once the federal system comes into force.

But for the core of climate policy — which is carbon pricing — the simplest, cleanest, and best way to avoid unnecessary costs and unnecessary actions is for existing state systems to become part of the federal system. California’s leaders and those in the Northeast may take great pride in their state and regional cap-and-trade systems.

But if they accomplish their frequently-stated goal — helping to bring about the enactment of a meaningful national climate policy — they will better serve their states and the country by declaring victory and getting out of the way.”


karajohnson
Comment posted April 24, 2010 @ 12:54 am

what's left of the bill with all that was negotiated out? the bill is now worthless and full of shit. kerry, get a backbone and stop compromising with our health and future


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