by Judith Curry
A roundup of some recent news on U.S. climate change politics and policy.
Interview with John Kerry
WorkingForJobs interviewed U.S. Senator John Kerry, who is arguably the Senate’s strongest advocate for climate action. Some excerpts:
Q. The climate issue is barely registering in this election. Why has this issue fallen off the Democratic agenda?
A. For several reasons. No. 1, because huge amounts of money were spent to purposely discredit the facts. Some of the coal industry, some of your old power-plant owners, put money into branding cap-and-trade as cap-and-tax. The British university emails were exploited by the opponents very effectively, and a kind of pejorative set in about climate science as a result. I think the climate issue lost 20 or 30 points of support in the public arena.
So once the House of Representatives passed cap-and-trade, this onslaught of negative activity took place which had an impact. The people who claimed it was a hoax, nothing more than a liberal conspiracy to have a government takeover, spent a lot of money scaring our colleagues. And that’s what happened, they scared them. They created a certain credibility [problem] that was never answered. There was no counter.
Q. To enviros, Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy seems like a cop-out. Should the party be moving more aggressively away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy?
A. You have to be all of the above. Look, I’m the most ardent advocate up here for doing something about climate change, but you’re nevertheless gonna have to use fossil fuels. The question is, can you use them in clean and manageable ways? The answer is, Yes, you can, if you make the right sort of requirements.
Q. But we’re not just talking about using fossil fuels as a bridge to clean energy — the Obama administration is aggressively expanding fossil-fuel development in the U.S. Rep. Ed Markey [D-Mass.] called it Obama’s “drill, baby, drill.”
A. If you’re going to use X amount of fuel and you’re using it in a clean way, it’s better to have it produced from the United States than to be dependent on other countries. So, do you want to expand it overall? No. Overall you want to find alternatives in renewables and other things. But you have to do what you have to do to meet our energy demand. You have to have scrubbers, you have to have standards, you have to take old power plants out of service and put in new power plants with higher standards. There are ways to do fossil fuels responsibly. And if we don’t do that, it’s gonna be catastrophic.
Q. The U.N. treaty process hasn’t been effective on climate change, quite obviously. What could and should the international community be doing to press forward on climate action?
A. It’s going to take political leadership, global leadership, and statesmanship. They have to find a way to get the Chinese to come to the table with leadership. I mean, United States and China represent more almost 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
In a sense, we have to go back to where we were. I mean, we really have to revisit what happened in Rio [in 1992], and in Kyoto, but come up with a different mechanism that hopefully can be more politically acceptable in various countries. It may not be a cap-and-trade system, but we have to go back to an emissions target that makes sense. And technologies will have to be made available to less-developed countries so they can grow without a huge carbon footprint.
Energy Commerce Hearing
The U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy Power held a Hearing last week on the topic of the EPA performance standards for power plants. From the Hearing website:
The hearing will discuss EPA’s proposed New Source Performance Standards for power plants, which would require new coal-fired power plants to install costly carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology that is not yet commercially viable. The result of such stringent new standards is a de facto ban on the construction of any new coal-fired power plants. To prevent American coal plants from becoming extinct, Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) has introduced a bill, H.R. 6172, to prohibit EPA from finalizing any rule imposing emissions standards from power plants unless and until CCS is proven to be technologically and economically feasible.
This hearing follows previous subcommittee hearings discussing the impact of EPA’s proposed NSPS standards on jobs, the economy, and consumers.
- Mr. Mark C. McCullough – American Electric Power
- Mr. Eugene M. Trisko – on behalf of United Mine Workers of America
- Mr. Robert Hilton – Power Technologies for Government Affairs
- Mr. John N. Voyles, Jr. – LG&E and KU Energy
- Dr. John R. Christy – University of Alabama Huntsville
- Mr. Dan Lashof – National Resources Defense Council
- Mr. John Thompson – Clean Air Task Force
John Christy’s testimony was discussed at WUWT.
EU’s airline carbon emissions scheme
[The] U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill on Saturday that would shield U.S. airlines from paying for their carbon emissions on European flights, pressuring the European Union to back down from applying its emissions law to foreign carriers.
Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, the measure’s other chief sponsor, said, “It’s refreshing to see strong, bipartisan support for the commonsense notion that Americans shouldn’t be forced to pay a European tax when flying in U.S. airspace.”
So far, nearly all airlines have complied reluctantly with the EU law, but Chinese and Indian carriers missed an interim deadline to submit information required under it.
The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication has an article The Potential Impact of Global Warming on the 2012 Presidential Election. Excerpts:
A new national survey finds that 7% of likely voters remain undecided about whom they will vote for President. The majority of these undecided voters say the Presidential candidates’ positions on global warming will be one of several important factors determining how they cast their vote.
The survey found that Undecideds are much more similar to likely Obama voters than likely Romney voters across a range of climate change and energy-related beliefs, attitudes, and policy preferences.