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July 27, 2009

Capitol Hotline (July 27)

Senate disagreement over carbon markets and emissions allowances, U.S. & China meet in Washington, House approves $4 Billion for high-speed rail, Montreal Protocol weapon to fight climate change, U.N. seeks $10 billion for climate pact, Feed-in tariffs for solar continue to spread

In this issue

 

  • Hot Topic of the Week

o   Discord Over Carbon Markets, Emissions Allocations in Senate

  • Inside the Beltway

o   U.S.-China Talk Climate in Washington this Week

o   House Approves $4 Billion for High-Speed Rail

  • Outside the Beltway

o   Montreal Protocol Eyed as Weapon in Fight against Climate Change

o   U.N. Seeks $10 Billion Aid as Good Start to Climate Pact

o   Feed-in Tariffs for Solar Continue To Spread

  • Capitol Hill Events
  • Other Headlines

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Hot Topic of the Week

Discord Over Carbon Markets, Emissions Allocations in Senate

Democratic Senators are grappling over carbon market regulations and oversight, with some fearing the new trillion-dollar markets will serve as prey to speculation and manipulation that has inflated oil markets in recent years. Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said this week that much of the regulation and oversight provisions would derive from the Feinstein-Snowe bill released earlier this month by the California and Maine senators, respectively. Similar discord surrounds emissions allocations for electric utilities with Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) charging that the House bill’s distribution based on past emissions levels and retail sales overly penalizes parts of the country that rely primarily on coal and natural gas. Meanwhile, the Agriculture Department released their evaluation of the House bill, Wednesday, praising the long-term net benefits the bill provides to the agricultural sector.

Climate legislation may have to wait even longer to hit the Senate floor, after the announcement from Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that the release of major healthcare legislation would be delayed until September. However, climate change legislation is still expected to be considered on the Senate floor sometime in October, a timetable that will be kept says Reid’s spokesperson.  Senators Max Baucus (D-MT), John Kerry (D-MA) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), key players on the climate bill, also hold seats on the Finance committee drafting the healthcare bill. Read more at Reuters

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Inside the Beltway

U.S.-China Talk Climate in Washington this Week

Today in Washington, the United States and China continue their ongoing dialogue on how the two nations can work together to tackle climate change. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner will discuss climate and financial issues with key Chinese officials during the two-day U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in D.C. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) released a Financial Times op-ed on Sunday in which he says it would be a mistake to only focus on what China will not do – accept binding emissions cuts – when they are doing so much else already.

House Approves $4 Billion for High-Speed Rail

The House approved a 2010 transportation budget last Thursday that includes $4 billion for high-speed rail – four times the total President Obama sought for the upcoming fiscal year. Half of the funds have been earmarked for the establishment of a national infrastructure bank, if one is authorized by Congress by the end of fiscal 2010. Read more at E&E News (sub. req’d)

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Outside the Beltway

Montreal Protocol Eyed as Weapon in Fight against Climate Change

Last week in Geneva, nations debated an amendment to the Montreal Protocol, credited with the eradication of 97 percent of ozone-eating cholorofluorocarbons (CFCs), to also ban the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs, a substitute for CFCs, are powerful greenhouse gases that have heat-trapping qualities thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide.  Read more at NY Times

U.N. Seeks $10 Billion Aid as Good Start to Climate Pact

U.N. Climate Change Secretariat Yvo de Boer said a financing pool of $10 billion from rich nations would be a “good beginning” before Copenhagen talks begin this December. The U.N. projects the annual costs of adapting developing countries to climate change may reach $200 billion. Officials expect this issue will be a top priority at the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh, Sept. 24-25. Read more at Reuters

Feed-in Tariffs for Solar Continue To Spread

Local government in the U.S. is increasingly offering feed-in tariffs for individual solar and wind energy producers. Unlike net metering which stops paying dividends once an energy bill reaches zero, a feed-in tariff provides producers with long-term contracts, often at above-market rates, for selling their electricity. The policy, which incited Germany’s rooftop solar explosion, began in Sacramento last week, Vermont and Gainesville, FL in the spring, as well as Washington State. Read more at Green Inc.

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Capitol Hill Events

  • July 28: Hearing on clean energy tech (House SC on GW)
  • July 28: Hearing on TVA spill and cleanup (House Trans & Infra)
  • July 28: Sotomayor vote (Senate Judiciary)
  • July 29: Hearing on Interior and Energy nominees (Senate E & NR)
  • July 29: Hearing on tech and intellectual property in global climate solutions (House SC on GW)
  • July 29: Markup of energy legislation (House Sci & Tech)
  • July 30: Hearing on methane hydrates
  • July 30: Hearing on climate change and national security (Senate EPW)

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Other Headlines

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Media Contacts

 

Marie Risalvato
Communications Director
352 514 3217

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