Rep. Lois Capps spoke on the House Floor on February 15, 2013, on behalf of the Safe Climate Caucus.
Posts tagged congress.
Wants to include climate change risks in environmental permits. When you build something, such a house or store, you typically need a permit (or three) from the local or state government. Bigger projects require federal approval, such as an oil pipeline or a rail line. So, the larger the project, the more information the government requires as part of those permits.
In order to get a permit, you need to conduct some studies and write a few reports, typically these include an economic feasibility and an environmental impact statement. For federal permits, these studies are made public. This “public comment period” gives everyone, including other businesses, a chance to voice their opinions on the project.
Now, Obama wants to change the rules. He is proposing that the federal permit process should include risks and impacts from climate change. These climate risks will be part of the environmental impact statement.
Businesses do not like permits - but not for the reasons you’d expect. It’s very expensive to conduct the required economic and environmental studies. Businesses have to hire specialists just for these permits. Often, these studies delay projects, which makes the projects more expensive to build.
The biggest complaint is that rules are inconsistent - they’re difficult to comply with, unclear in their intent, guidelines are always changing, and (worst of all) they’re unevenly enforced. Sometimes a politician will intervene - essentially subverting the law. Political intervention creates an atmosphere of unfairness and favoritism (but, that is discussion for another post).
In the permitting world, lawsuits abound. And lawsuits compound the costs of building and it generally pisses off a lot of people.
So, when you hear complaints that “environmental permits hurts jobs” it’s not that the developer hates the environment, it’s that the rules are a convoluted, expensive mess. It’s also a clever way for politicians to dismantle environmental regulations because, after all, the rules “hurt jobs” - a line that resonates with the voting public.
Thus, from the perspective of business, Obama’s proposal to increase the rules for environmental permits has businesses - and the politicians that they’ve bought - shaking in their boots.
Queue a big political fight on this one.
President Barack Obama is preparing to tell all federal agencies for the first time that they should consider the impact on global warming before approving major projects, from pipelines to highways.
The result could be significant delays for natural gas- export facilities, ports for coal sales to Asia, and even new forest roads, industry lobbyists warn.
“It’s got us very freaked out,” said Ross Eisenberg, vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers, a Washington-based group that represents 11,000 companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) and Southern Co. (SO) The standards, which constitute guidance for agencies and not new regulations, are set to be issued in the coming weeks, according to lawyers briefed by administration officials.
In taking the step, Obama would be fulfilling a vow to act alone in the face of a Republican-run House of Representatives unwilling to pass measures limiting greenhouse gases. He’d expand the scope of a Nixon-era law that was first intended to force agencies to assess the effect of projects on air, water and soil pollution.
“If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will,” Obama said last month during his State of the Union address. He pledged executive actions “to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”
Via the excellent Bloomberg.com
Members of the Congressional International Conservation Caucus vote against the environment 52 percent of the time. ›
So it’s a good thing that exists.
Their argument against cleaning up after businesses is that it costs money. That’s it in a nutshell.
More movement in Congress on Climate Change. Sunday I posted about the new 22 member “Safe Climate Caucus,” who have vowed to discuss climate impacts and solutions every time congress is in session.
Signs of activity as the ‘climate silence’ from the President and Congress come to an end: On February 13 Senate Environment Committee chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) held a “Briefing on the Latest Climate Science” featuring scientists Jim McCarthy, Don Wuebbles, J. Marshall Shepherd, and John Balbus. Seven Democratic members of the committee in attendance; all Republican members appeared to be AWOL.
An archived webcast of the briefing is posted on the Environment and Public Works Committee’s website (the briefing starts at 12:30 of the webcast), along with written testimony by:
• Dr. James J. McCarthy, Professor of Biological Oceanography, Harvard University; leader of the IPCC Third Assessment Report (2001) on global climate change impacts and vulnerabilities.
• Dr. Donald J. Wuebbles, Professor of Atmospheric Science, University of Illinois.
• Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, President of the American Meteorological Society and Director for Program in Atmospheric Sciences, University of Georgia.
• Dr. John M. Balbus, Senior Advisor for Public Health, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Each of the presenters gave a concise state-of-the-science overview for Senators and staff, followed by a substantial question-and-answer period.
Guys, great news in Congress: 22 members form the "Safe Climate Caucus". Vow to talk about climate change every time Congress is in session. ›
Announcement was made February 15th on the floor by Congressman Henry Waxman. A “caucus” is basically an informal group of people within a bigger group, in this case 22 members have agreed to form the “Safe Climate Caucus.” These 22 Congressmen and Congresswomen will discuss climate change everyday that Congress is in session.
For comparison, out of the 435 members of Congress, the Tea Party Caucus has about 50 members and is lead by Michele Bachmann.
Most likely the Safe Climate Caucus will take to the floor and make a one minute speech about the impacts on their districts, including jobs. I’m unclear what else they will do, but more to come in the following 4 years.
For example, here is one of the first speeches on the floor by Rep. Jared Huffman. Huffman talks about the economic and environmentalproblems in his northern California district:
The goal of the caucus is to create momentum to help pass a climate change bill, one that will address emissions and emergency response (adaptation). Ideally, the long-game is to push the US back to the treaty-signing-table with the UN.
Official statement from the Congressional Record:
Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Speaker and my colleagues, today, 22 Members of the House have banded together to create a Safe Climate Caucus to end the conspiracy of silence in this House of Representatives about the dangers of climate change and the Republican denial of its existence and their rejection of the science.
We are committing to talk every single day on the House floor about the urgent need to address climate change. President Obama is leading the way. He says we must respond to climate change because to do otherwise would be to betray our children and future generations.
Good read, but nothing on adaptation:
President Obama is expected to launch a serious second-term push on climate change with his State of the Union address.
With climate legislation dead in Congress, green groups are hopeful that Obama will follow the “we must act” mantra of his inaugural address and put the full weight of his executive powers behind their agenda.
“The problem is very pressing, and so the sooner we have policy proposals in front of us, the better.”
Obama has already signaled his willingness to use his executive powers forcefully, laying out a series of executive orders on gun control in addition to calling for legislation.
On climate, the White House took some steps with executive powers in the first term, and that’s expected to be the primary second-term focus.
“If he were to just repeat what he said in the [second] inaugural address, that would be considered a missed opportunity, but I don’t believe he will. I believe he will be more specific about what he is going to do,” said one climate advocate.
Liberals in Congress have urged the president to go big on climate as well.
“From a planetary point of view there is no issue more important than climate change, and the president has to be as bold and specific as he possibly can,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told reporters on the eve of Obama’s address.
At the very top of advocates’ wish list is a commitment to setting carbon emissions standards for existing coal-fired power plants. A move in that direction would begin an all-out war with coal-based power companies and some other industry sectors that say there would be huge economic costs from increased regulation.
Obama, without Congress, can also expand on his first-term actions to boost Defense Department green energy programs and development alternative energy on public lands, among other steps.
No matter what steps Obama takes, environmentalists say the president needs to use the bully pulpit to rally public support.
Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire
The Congressional Research Service has confirmed what we’ve known all along,” said Earthjustice attorney Lisa Evans. “The Senate coal ash bill is a sham that will not protect communities from toxic coal ash or prevent another Kingston disaster. Congress must get out of the way and let EPA do its job.
When government bows to industry.
Good read on how one young person can change an adult’s mind on protecting the environment.
Sara Ma knew from the start it would be an uphill battle to get her state leaders to start thinking about climate change.
The West High senior, along with other members of the iMatter youth campaign, had already marched to the state Capitol. Their petition to get state agencies to begin to account for climate change in their lawmaking had been rejected. And their education efforts before the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration had fallen flat.
In short, nothing happened. That’s not a surprise in a state where leaders have consistently rejected climate science, she reasoned. So, they regrouped.
“Being in Utah,” Ma said, “we need to start smaller.”
And, when the group began meeting with legislators about their proposal for a bill, they were pleased to find someone in the dominant GOP who was willing to work with them.
Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, has opened a bill file for legislation that would examine how climate change is expected to drive more and bigger wildfires and to begin planning for future wildfire fighting and suppression costs.
“In the worst wildfire season on record, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service ran out of money to pay for firefighters, fire trucks and aircraft that dump retardant on monstrous flames.
So officials did about the only thing they could: take money from other forest management programs. But many of the programs were aimed at preventing giant fires in the first place, and raiding their budgets meant putting off the removal of dried brush and dead wood over vast stretches of land — the things that fuel eye-popping blazes, threatening property and lives.”
Rep. Paul Broun (R – GA), member of House Science Committee, says that evolution, embryology, big bang theory are “lies straight from the pit of hell.”
Food and fuel prices too high? Blame Obama. His senate voted down farmer/drought relief bill then go on 5-week vacation. This time you can blame the Obama administration for not getting their shit together.
The rival parties fail to pass even a scaled-down stopgap measure before the August recess.
Even as the drought worsened in the Midwest and Great Plains, Congress proved unable to provide relief for farmers and ranchers before leaving for a month of campaigning.
The House on Thursday approved a scaled-down $383-million package primarily to help ranchers whose livestock losses and feed costs are mounting as arid conditions make land unusable for grazing. But the Senate declined to consider the bill before recessing, preferring a broader bipartisan measure that it passed overwhelmingly last month.
“This House should not go home while literally hanging our ranchers out to dry without a safety net to get through this drought,” said freshman Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), who is from a ranching family.
Democrats, who control the Senate, prefer the broader farm bill, which would provide more robust drought relief to other agricultural sectors. Democrats also object to the GOP’s plan to offset the costs by cutting conservation funds.
“It’s deeply troubling that the House would leave farmers and small businesses in the lurch,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “House leadership is doing what Congress always does — kicking the can down the road instead of coming together to solve problems.”
The National Drought Mitigation Center said Thursday that arid conditions continued to intensify in Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced new aid for farmers and ranchers earlier this week. More than half the nation’s counties have federal disaster designations, largely because of drought.
“It’s hard to believe that it’s getting worse, but it is, even with some rain in the region,” said Brian Fuchs, a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Congress members who supported a MASSIVE giveaway to Big Oil today received (surprise!) $38.6 million from the industry.
Money doesn’t just talk, it votes.
In 2011, Republicans voted 37 times to block action to address climate change, including votes to overturn EPA’s scientific findings that climate change endangers human health and welfare; to block EPA from regulating carbon pollution from power plants, oil refineries, and vehicles; to prevent the United States from participating in international climate negotiations; and even to cut funding for basic climate science.U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, report, “The Anti-Environment Record of the U.S. House of Representatives 112th Congress.”
Damning report against republican record: Voted 247 times to dismantel environmental and public health laws in 2011. Votes favored oil and gas companies. ›
Report shows Republicans voted in favor of stripping environmental laws to help the oil and gas industry.
“Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Ed Markey released a new report that provides an updated analysis of the anti-environment record of the House of Representatives in the 112th Congress. In 2011 and in the first half of 2012, the Republican-controlled House voted 247 times to dismantle environmental and public health protections.
The report, prepared by the Democratic staff of the Energy and Commerce Committee, found that the House averaged one anti-environmental vote for every day the House was in session in 2011 and in the first half of 2012. Nearly one in five of the 1,100 legislative roll call votes thus far this Congress – 19% – were votes to undermine environmental protection.
The report also found that the oil and gas industry has been the largest beneficiary of this anti-environment record in the House. The House has voted 109 times on legislation that would enrich the oil and gas industry. This includes 45 votes to weaken environmental, public health, and safety requirements applicable to the oil industry, 38 votes to prevent deployment of clean energy alternatives, and 12 votes to expedite review of the Keystone XL pipeline.
- The full report is available here.
- A comprehensive list of all anti-environment votes in the 112th Congress is available here.
- A list of all votes related to the oil and gas industry is available online here.