- New York Times: Congress Passes Bipartisan Bill to Improve Energy Efficiency
- Inside Climate: EPA’s Clean Power Plan Will Create Quarter-Million Jobs
- Wall Street Journal: Studies Link Earthquakes With Oil, Gas Drilling
By DARIUS DIXON, with help from Alex Guillén
OBAMA SAYS YES TO EVERGLADES, SECRET SERVICE SAYS NO TO GATOR WRESTLIN’: President Barack Obama is taking an afternoon field trip to the Florida Everglades, his first visit there as president, where he will mark Earth Day with a series of actions tackling climate change and promoting national parks. “The president is hoping that his visit to the Everglades on Earth Day will prompt an elevated political debate about making climate change a priority,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters yesterday. Earnest denied that Obama picked Florida because of its electoral significance — or its Republican senator-turned-presidential hopeful. “This isn’t about campaigns, this is actually making progress on a priority. The next campaign is not for another year and a half, and the president over the course of the next 18, 19, 20 months hopes to make substantial progress, both at home and around the world in fighting climate change.”
Photo op: Earnest added: “This visit by the president, I do think if the weather holds, could result in a pretty iconic image and would, as the saying goes, say at least 1,000 words about the president’s commitment to the environment and to climate change and the Everglades itself.” But it may not be a very pleasant afternoon in the Everglades — according to the National Weather Service, Obama will have to battle thunderstorms and highs of 88 degrees.
The agenda: The administration’s Earth Day agenda includes a report out today from the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Park Service estimating the carbon storage potential of the national parks at 14.8 million metric tons per year, a “service” valued at $580 million, according to the White House. The administration will designate a new national historic landmark in Miami, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas House, honoring the author of “The Everglades: River of Grass.” (More info from NPS’s landmark nomination form: http://1.usa.gov/1J8dKkn). NPS will also announce $26 million for restoration projects at parks and release a report on parks tourism and the economy. And tomorrow, the Agriculture Department will announce a partnership with farmers and ranchers to cut net greenhouse gas emissions.
Barack Obama the climate… llama? While in the Sunshine State, Obama will also sit for a discussion on climate change and environmental issues with Bill Nye (the Science Guy).
SCOTT, W.H. TRADE SHOTS: Florida Gov. Rick Scott yesterday preceded Obama’s visit with a call for Obama to free up cash for the Everglades, including $58 million in backlog funding for Everglades National Park that he says have caused “critical maintenance delays,” as well as funds to repair a dike along Lake Okeechobee. Earnest fired back by noting allegations that Scott has barred some state employees from using the term “climate change,” a charge Scott has denied. “It’s a little rich for somebody who’s made that declaration to suggest that somehow the president has not been sufficiently committed to protecting the Everglades from the causes of climate change,” Earnest said.
YOU CAN’T SATISFY EVERYONE: Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter: “Using the Everglades to highlight the threat of climate change, while at the same time encouraging the climate-damaging practice of fracking in that very region, represents an alarming disconnect.”
YOU’RE HALFWAY THERE! I’m your host, Darius Dixon, and in my love of nearly all things that remind me of my hometown, I’ve repeatedly watched this creative picto-historical elevator ride of New York City apparently installed at 1 World Trade Center: http://nyti.ms/1EqxkY2 (I keep staring at St. Paul’s Chapel). Send your energy tips to email@example.com, and follow us on Twitter @dariusss, @Morning_Energy and @POLITICOPro.
** In recognition of Earth Day, a new Business Roundtable report, “Create, Grow, Sustain: Leading by Example,” features the sustainable practices of 148 of America’s leading businesses. By employing sustainable business practices, CEO-led efforts are improving communities throughout the United States and around the world. Learn how at: http://bit.ly/1NXUoBK **
U.S. WON’T USE ENERGY PRODUCTION TO NEEDLE FOREIGN NATIONS: Pro Energy’s Darren Goode is still feeding us with the goings on at CERAWeek. His latest is an interview with the State Department’s top energy diplomat, Amos Hochstein, who explains: “We don’t control our own energy production and we don’t use it as weapons or tools or leverages for pursuit of other policies.” Hochstein also said that the debate over exporting natural gas is “over.” The popular question of CERAWeek: What effect will any decision to lift sanctions on Iran have on energy? “In this conference at CERAWeek, that subject seems to come up once every 30 minutes and I tend to get a lot of questions,” Hochstein told Darren. But, he said, “We’re putting the cart before the horse. … The talks continue and there is no agreement yet.” http://politico.pro/1G55prk
RUN GREEN WARREN RUN GREEN: Officials with Ready for Warren, a campaign to draft Sen. Elizabeth Warren for the 2016 presidential race, tell ME that they plan to announce a new environmental wing today. “Together, we have a chance to show just how much support Elizabeth Warren has from the community of folks organizing to stop the climate crisis, bring about a new green economy, and put workers and the environment ahead of corporate interests,” a launch email slated for today says. The group plans to have a kick-off call on April 27 at 8 p.m. hosted by Ready for Warren, MoveOn, and Democracy for America.
THE SCI-TOWN SHOWDOWN: The House Science Committee is slated to markup Chairman Lamar Smith’s bill to reauthorize federal science programs this morning, and there’s bound to be quite the kerfuffle. Smith’s America COMPETES Reauthorization Act was introduced a week ago and is skipping the full committee hearing as well as the panel’s subcommittees entirely. And when it was unveiled last week, Democrats on the panel said they were blindsided because Republicans hadn’t bothered to share the bill, which sets funding levels for the National Science Foundation, the Energy Department’s Science office and other programs, with them before it was introduced. So it’s none too surprising that while there are ten Republican sponsors, there are zero Democrats. In a statement, ranking member Eddie Bernice Johnson called the bill “appalling” and said the problems with it were “far too many to enumerate here.”
— Sixteen geoscience organizations rebelled against the funding levels in Smith’s bill. The measure calls for increasing overall funding for NSF and the DOE’s Science office but that boost comes in part from cuts to NSF’s geoscience program — which funds many of its climate science research projects — by 8 percent, compared with fiscal 2015 levels.
— Some of the big guns of the science community have withheld their support for Smith’s bill not only over funding levels but changes in how disciplines are funded. For instance, the American Association for the Advancement of Science took issue with language authorizing NSF research directorates individually, “thus in effect placing certain directorates over others.” The American Physical Society (mainly physicists) said it couldn’t support the bill in its current form. Several provisions in the bill, the APS president wrote, “detrimental to the health of our nation’s science and technology enterprise, and they outweigh the bill’s authorization increases for physics research.” Committee Democrats have amassed quite the collection of critical letters: http://1.usa.gov/1Fczrxu
— The bill also reduces ARPA-E funding by half compared to fiscal 2015, requires NSF to issue a “national interest” justification for every grants it awards, cuts DOE’s energy efficiency and renewable energy office by more than 30 percent, keeps funding levels flat between fiscal 2016 and 2017. And it bars the results of certain DOE research from being used in regulatory assessments in the federal government.
If you go: The markup starts at 10:15 a.m. in Rayburn 2318. http://1.usa.gov/1yIKg8Y
HOUSE GOP TO REGISTER THEIR CLIMATE DISCONTENT: Wisconsin Republican Jim Sensenbrenner, along with House Science Chairman Lamar Smith and Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, has introduced a resolution aimed at discouraging the administration from signing onto any deal at the climate talks in Paris this December. The non-binding resolution states that the U.S. shouldn’t sign any deal that would mandate emissions cuts from richer nations without requiring other nations — i.e. China and India — to make similar reductions, in the style of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. It also cautions against any deal in which parties do not “reduce an equal amount of greenhouse gas emissions,” or which causes “serious harm to the economy” or doesn’t do enough to protect U.S. intellectual property rights. The resolution: http://1.usa.gov/1J8fz0E
NONDISCLOSURE OF THE DAY: “The author of this piece, Randy Simmons, is the Charles G. Koch professor of political economy at Utah State University. He’s also a senior fellow at the Koch- and ExxonMobil-funded Property and Environment Research Center. These ties to the oil industry weren’t originally disclosed in this piece.” http://bit.ly/1cYfHm2
NEW GREEN ON THE BLOCK: Seth Stein has joined the League of Conservation Voters as the group’s new national press secretary, replacing Jeff Gohringer. Stein worked for California Rep. Mike Honda before his more recent gig serving as the communications director for House candidate Martha Robertson in western New York. “He enjoys prioritizing reporter’s inquiries over his own health and well-being and along with most of DC, he appreciates that it is not physically possible to drown in email,” wrote LCV’s David Willett.
FIRST CALIFORNIA, THEN US: California Rep. Ted Lieu wants to bring a little Sacramento climate change legislating to the Capitol: The freshmen congressman, who co-authored California’s 2006 global warming law, AB 32, while he was in the state legislature, is introducing climate legislation in the House today. The bill, the Climate Change Solutions Act, would set national greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2035 — and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. The 13-page bill would also establish a national renewable energy standard requiring that 40 percent of U.S. electricity sold in 2030 be from renewables. The bill: http://politico.pro/1bi2JhT
— Also, in energy-legislation-coming-today category, Texas Rep. Kenny Marchant plans to announce a new bill today quickly phasing out and eventually repealing the renewable production tax credit: http://1.usa.gov/1K3t7rV
LET ME GET THIS STRAIGHT: Today is one of those days where, as an energy reporter, you wonder if the committee schedulers have a grudge against you:
— The House: The Appropriations Committee begins marking up the energy and water spending bill at 10:45 a.m. But by then, the Natural Resources Committee will be in full swing discussing “Innovations in Safety” since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, an Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee will be reviewing DOE’s plan for excess uranium, and members of the Energy and Commerce Committee will be marking up the Ratepayer Protection Act, which creates state exemptions from EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas regulations for existing power plants. As mentioned earlier, the House Science Committee markup as well.
— It’s not quite as busy in the Senate: Members of the Appropriations Committee will hear from Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and Deputy Interior Secretary Michael Conner is testifying before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee at 10 a.m. The Environment and Public Works Committee is holding a nomination hearing on Vanessa Sutherland, the chief counsel at PHMSA, to be the new chair of the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board. In the afternoon, Sen. Lamar Alexander’s energy and water spending panel holds a hearing about the U.S. without nuclear power. The Tennessee Republican is likely to dive into how the EPA’s Clean Power Plan considers nuclear, as well as the future of small modular reactors. Alexander is also expected to announce plans to hold a separate hearing on nuclear waste.
CAN WE TALK IT OVER? The White House is sharing some specific complaints about the House energy and water spending bill ahead of today’s Appropriations Committee markup, part of a strategy to reach out to Republicans earlier in the process. In a letter to lawmakers yesterday, OMB Director Shaun Donovan questions the funding levels for DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which would get about 40 percent less than the president’s proposal. He also called out funding for grid modernization and resilience — a topic highlighted by yesterday’s Quadrennial Energy Review — and the allocation for the popular but relatively small ARPA-E. Donovan: http://1.usa.gov/1Db26g9
— Why Did These Oil Workers Die? The Wall Street Journal: http://on.wsj.com/1PeS8n5
— The Fight Over Solar In Nevada. Nevada Public Radio: http://bit.ly/1PeTJZV
— Greece beckons at Gazprom. POLITICO Europe: http://bit.ly/1bhJ1Ty
— New Studies Link Earthquakes With Oil, Gas Drilling. The Wall Street Journal: http://on.wsj.com/1aQOkc5
— Bill would ease CPUC appeals. U-T San Diego: http://bit.ly/1DAaWotTags: energy, fuel, gas, oil