Weekly Climate Change Policy Update - February 22, 2010


Article by Kyle Danish, Shelley Fidler, Kevin Gallagher, Megan Ceronsky and Tomás Carbonell

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Commentary President Obama announced the Administration's first major loan guarantee for construction of a nuclear power facility. The $8.3 billion guarantee will support two facilities planned by Southern Company . . . Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) circulated a draft "clean electricity standard," a variant on the renewable electricity standard that extends the crediting circle to nuclear energy and coal-fired plants with carbon capture and sequestration . . . Sixteen lawsuits have been filed for review of EPA's endangerment finding, including petitions filed by the states of Alabama, Texas and Virginia . . . The White House Council for Environmental Quality issued guidelines for review of climate change impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act . . . In a statement reaffirmed its emissions mitigation commitment under the Copenhagen Accord, China characterized the Accord as a "principled consensus" . . . BP, ConocoPhillips and Caterpillar left the ranks of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. BP and ConocoPhillips cited frustration over the treatment of the transportation sector and natural gas producers in recent proposed legislation.

Executive Branch

President Obama Announces Nuclear Loan Guarantee, Touts GHG Advantages of Nuclear Power. Announcing that the Department of Energy (DOE) would award its first $8.3 billion in loan guarantees to support the construction of two new nuclear reactors in Georgia, President Obama voiced strong support for the role of nuclear power in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. "Whether it's nuclear energy, or solar or wind energy," the President said, "if we fail to invest in the technologies of tomorrow, then we're going to be importing those technologies instead of exporting them . . . To meet our growing energy needs and prevent the worst consequences of climate change, we'll need to increase our supply of nuclear power. It's that simple." The loan guarantees will cover 70% of the cost of the new facilities, which would be the first nuclear reactors to be built in the United States since the 1970s. Climate Envoy Says US Copenhagen Commitment Not Contingent on China. U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern said that the United States would uphold its commitment to reduce GHG emissions under the Copenhagen Accord regardless of whether China, India, and other major developing countries ultimately associate themselves with the agreement. However, Stern added that global GHG emissions could only be reduced by about 40% by 2050 if developing countries do not undertake significant GHG mitigation actions of their own. In its official statement associating itself with the Accord, the United States set forth a GHG emission target of approximately 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, depending on climate change legislation passed by Congress. About 70 countries had submitted similar emission targets or mitigation actions as of February 17. CEQ Issues Proposed NEPA Guidance Requiring Consideration of GHGs. The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), which administers regulations governing environmental...

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