Weekly Climate Change Policy Update - June 7, 2010

Profession:Van Ness Feldman

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

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In a speech at Carnegie-Mellon University, President Obama pledged to round up votes for a bill that will regulate GHG emissions . . . Citing the Gulf oil spill, Majority Leader Reid has asked Committee Chairmen for ideas by July 4th for a "comprehensive energy bill." A spokesperson later clarified that "comprehensive" means climate-included . . . On Thursday of this coming week, the Senate will consider Sen. Murkowski's "Resolution of Disapproval" of EPA's finding that GHG emissions endanger public health and welfare. Passage of the resolution would remove EPA's authority to regulate GHG emissions under the Clean Air Act, which would scuttle the Obama Administration's deal with the states and the automakers for GHG standards for new motor vehicles. No filibusters or amendments are allowed for such a resolution; it needs 51 votes for passage. While most observers believe the resolution is unlikely to pass both chambers and survive a Presidential veto, no one is taking it lightly. The vote will be complicated for moderate Democrats concerned that Republican opponents will spin a "nay" vote into a vote in favor of EPA regulation. Lurking off-stage are potential "safety-valve" alternatives that would authorize motor vehicle regulation but cabin EPA's authority to regulate stationary sources, including a possible Carper-Casey bill (which would limit stationary source regulation only to larger sources, echoing EPA's "Tailoring Rule") and a Rockefeller bill (which would delay EPA regulation of stationary sources for two years). Of course, there is also the Kerry-Lieberman bill, which would supplant most traditional Clean Air Act regulation with a comprehensive, market-based regime. In any event, expect the floor debate on Thursday to provide opportunities for Senators to take a stand on a path forward; it could indicate the likelihood and form of Congressional action on climate this year.

Executive Branch

Obama Vows to Marshal Votes to Pass Climate Change Legislation. President Barack Obama reaffirmed his support for comprehensive climate change and clean energy legislation at a speech at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, in which he argued that the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico demonstrated the need to develop clean sources of energy. Declaring that "the next generation will not be held hostage to energy sources from the last century," the President vowed to work with Congress to pass climate change legislation. "The votes [to pass a climate bill] may not be there right now," said the President, "but I intend to find them in the coming months . . . I will work with anyone to get this done." The President's remarks are available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-economy-carnegie-mellon-university . State Department Submits Fifth Climate Action Report to UNFCCC. The Department of State submitted its fifth National Communication, titled the "Climate Action Report 2010," to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC requires parties to submit periodic reports documenting policies and initiatives to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. According to the report, U.S. GHG emissions are anticipated to increase to no more than 4% over 2005 levels by 2020 under current policies. Specific initiatives highlighted in the report include: $90 billion in investments in clean energy financed by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; the federal...

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