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July 07, 2009

Capitol Hotline (July 7)

G8 Summit and MEF meet, EPA grants CA tailpipe emissions waiver, Franken joins Senate, 44 hazardous coal ash sites identified, U.S. joins International Renewable Energy Association, Shell is most carbon intensive company, China and India balk at "climate tariffs."


In this issue

  • Hot Topic of the Week

o    G8 Summit and MEF This Week, US Softens on 2 Degree Target

  • Inside the Beltway

o    EPA Grants California Tailpipe Emissions Waiver

o    Franken Joins Senate, Gives Democrats Filibuster-Proof Majority

o    EPA Identifies 44 Hazardous Coal Ash Sites

  • Outside the Beltway

o    U.S. Joins International Renewable Energy Association

o    Tar Sands, Oil Shale Make Shell Most Carbon Intensive Company

o    China, India Balk at “Carbon Tariffs”

  • Capitol Hill Events
  • Other Headlines

 

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Hot Topic of the Week

G8 Summit and MEF This Week, US Softens on 2 Degree Target

President Obama will join other heads of state at a G8 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy July 8-10 in hopes of taking decisive steps toward securing a UN climate change treaty due to be signed in December. Emerging economic powers will also join the G8 countries for the Major Economies Forum on July 9, held on the sidelines of the G8 Summit. A European official claims the latest draft of the G8 communiqué includes a goal of limiting global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius and that the United States is “on board” with that target. Thus far the Obama administration has said it was still reviewing the target.  Read more at Reuters

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Inside the Beltway

EPA Grants California Tailpipe Emissions Waiver

The EPA announced last week that it will give California a waiver to begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. The decision comes about a month after President Obama unveiled new national fuel-economy standards that are very similar to California’s proposed emission standards. Still, the federal guidelines won’t come into effect until model year 2012, allowing California and other states to set stricter emission standards begin with this year’s model. California has agreed to defer to the national standard through 2016. Read more at New York Times

Franken Joins Senate, Gives Democrats Filibuster-Proof Majority

The Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously declared Democrat Al Franken the winner of a protracted battle for the state’s Senate seat, forcing incumbent Norm Coleman to concede the race. Al Franken will become the 60th Democrat in the chamber, bringing the party to a filibuster-proof majority. The extra vote was welcomed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but said he doesn’t expect it to change the dynamic of the Senate much. According to analysis by E&E News, there are currently 45 senators that will likely support the American Clean Energy & Security Act (including Franken), with an additional 23 on the fence, 15 of them Democrats. Read more at Politico

EPA Identifies 44 Hazardous Coal Ash Sites

The Environmental Protection Agency released a list of 44 coal ash storage ponds that have “high hazard potential.” Located near 26 communities, the sites received the hazardous classification on whether human life would be at risk if the ponds’ structural integrity was breached; the agency did not assess the likelihood of failure. Read more at New York Times

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Outside the Beltway

U.S. Joins International Renewable Energy Association

The United States joined 130 other countries as a member of the International Renewable Energy Association (IRENA) formed in January 2009. “President Obama is committed to renewable energy to mitigate climate change, ensure energy security, create green jobs and lead a green recovery,” said Reno Harnish, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans, Environment and Science at the signing. During the IRENA Assembly meeting in Egypt, IRENA officials agreed to headquarter the organization in the United Arab Emirates. Read more at Reuters

Tar Sands, Oil Shale Make Shell Most Carbon Intensive Company

Shell will become the most carbon intensive international oil company as a result of their proliferation of fossil fuels from tar sands and oil shale, according to a study released this week. The study, conducted by Oil Change International, Friends of the Earth, PLATFORM and Greenpeace U.K., puts Shell’s CO2 intensity 19 percent above ExxonMobil and 70 percent higher than BP. Starting in 2010, oil companies with U.S. operations will be required to disclose how much unconventional sources like tar sands or oil shale comprise their operations. Read more at Wall Street Journal

China, India Balk at “Carbon Tariffs”

Officials from China and India have reacted with disdain in the past week to the “border tax adjustment” included in the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), as well as to similar measures proposed by Canada and the European Commission. China claims the tariffs would violate WTO agreements. In a statement, China’s Ministry of Commerce said collecting carbon duties from foreign goods would enable developed countries to “protect trade in the name of protecting the environment.” Read more at Reuters

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Capitol Hill Events

  • July 8: Hearing on climate change and trade (Senate Finance)
  • July 8: Hearing on climate change and industrial competition (Senate Foreign Relations)
  • July 9: Hearing on EPA air regulations (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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