Capitol Hotline (Sept. 29)
Climate Week wrap-up, Boxer-Kerry bill to be introduced, UN and G20 talks end Bangkok begins, Murkowski amendment not in Interior-EPA approps bill, EPA finalizes GHG reporting rule, Smart grid standards released, three utilities leave Chamber of Commerce
Climate Week presented a singular opportunity for the climate action community to attract the attention of foreign leaders and the media to our message, events, and expertise. The US Climate Action Network was at the center of much of the week’s activities, participating in organizing events such as the Global Wakeup Call (3000 events taking place in 130 countries), and dispatching a television team to produce a widely watched video of the Human Countdown in NYC, a big climate rally in Pittsburgh, and other events. We collaborated in producing an A-list star-studded evening of music at a gala party at the Warhol Museum, and established with several partners a full-service G20 Media Center. Highlights at the Media Center included news conferences by the governor of Pennsylvania and President Obama’s special assistant on climate change. Media coverage of climate change doubled during the week, a clear indication of the community’s message discipline, ability to execute high-profile Climate Week events, and display our noted climate experts.
In this issue
- Hot Topics of the Week
- Boxer, Kerry Dropping Senate Climate Bill Wednesday
- NYC, Pittsburgh Negotiations Conclude, UN Talks Begin in Bangkok
- USCAN and Climate Week Updates
- G20 Media Center Featured Governor, White House Staff
- Energy Rebellion Blog Takes On Energy Titans
- USCAN, Heinz Host Warhol Reception at G-20 Summit
- Activists, Union Workers Rallied on Eve of G-20 Summit
- Global Wakeup Call Jolted the Globe
- Inside the Beltway
- Interior-EPA Appropriations Bill Passes Without Murkowski Amendment
- EPA Finalizes Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Rules
- Initial “Smart Grid” Standards Released
- Outside the Beltway
- Three Energy Companies Abandon U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- Other Headlines
Hot Topics of the Week
Boxer, Kerry Dropping Senate Climate Bill Wednesday
Following a heated debate on healthcare this summer, the Senate will finally take up climate legislation. This Wednesday, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and John Kerry (D-MA) will introduce a draft climate and energy bill in the Senate. The bill is expected to largely build off of the House bill which passed in June, though Senate Democratic aides say the Senate version will have a more aggressive emission target (20% below 1990 levels) and not include language to assist energy-intensive manufacturing industries such as steel and cement. Hearings on the bill will start on Thursday, with a markup in the Energy and Public Works Committee soon thereafter. Read more at E&E (sub. req’d)
NYC, Pittsburgh Negotiations Conclude, UN Talks Begin in Bangkok
Obama joined over 100 other world leaders at the United Nations in New York City last week, a meeting some say has brought new political energy to climate negotiations. President Obama addressed climate change during his first speech before the international body, recognized the urgency of climate change and said he looked forward to “engaging” with Senate committees as the U.S. climate legislation moves forward. On Thursday and Friday leaders met again at the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh, where climate was largely overshadowed by economic concerns. The G20 communiqué produced no new language regarding financing for developing nations to cope with climate change, though it did make a new commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies. The Prime Minister of Sweden, Fredrik Reinfeldt, suggested that G20 leaders might meet again in the coming weeks to help further the negotiations.
The road to Copenhagen now runs through Bangkok, where two weeks of negotiations began Monday. Jonathan Pershing, U.S. Deputy Envoy on Climate Change, says President Obama supports U.S. emissions reductions comparable to the EU and Japan, but wants legally binding commitments from other countries as well. U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer stated that the negotiations are behind schedule but remains optimistic that a deal will be reached in Copenhagen.
USCAN and Climate Week Updates
G20 Media Center Featured Governor, White House Staff
Press, bloggers, and communication professionals covered the events and newsmakers at the Pittsburgh G-20 Summit on September 24 and 25 at the G-20 Media Center, hosted by USCAN, TckTckTck, Environmental Defense Fund, Oxfam and World Wildlife Fund. Held within the pedestrian-accessible security zone, the Media center was equipped with wireless internet, video production and editing and satellite uplink capacity (watch the video, Making of the G-20 Media Center). Over a dozen NGO press conferences took place in the space, featuring A-list speakers including Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, Michael Froman, White House Deputy Assistant for International Economic Affairs, and prominent leaders in the NGO and academic fields. Browse the full press conference video coverage. Additional video clips, including interviews, are on the USCAN Climate Action Week blog.
Energy Rebellion Blog Takes On Energy Titans
If you haven’t been keeping up with all the action at USCAN’s blog, Energy Rebellion, take some time today. We’re covering all the big stories of how citizens around the country are rising up to demand a clean energy economy and progress fighting climate change. Recent posts have covered how major companies are ditching the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over their radical anti-climate views, how an advocacy group published a fake New York Post newspaper with true information on alarming climate change consequences, and how residents are taking utility companies to court to reduce their carbon emissions. Read those stories and more.
USCAN, Heinz Host Warhol Reception at G-20 Summit
The glamorous USCAN reception at the Warhol Museum was the place to be the evening before the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh. The venue was filled to capacity with foreign dignitaries, politicians and environmental leaders who enjoyed amazing Louisiana delta music by celebrated artists including the Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band, Allen Toussaint, Trombone Shorty and Cajun bluesman Tab Benoit. High-profile speakers commanded the crowd’s attention, including regional political leadership, NGO executives and others, such as Teresa Heinz and Congressman Mike Doyle (D-PA). David Corn, Washington Bureau Chief of Mother Jones Magazine, emceed the event. Read more at Huffington Post
Activists, Union Workers Rallied on Eve of G-20 Summit
Environmental activists and union workers stood sided-by-sided chanting "Clean Energy Jobs Now!" at a major rally in Pittsburgh on the eve of the G-20 Summit last week. Organized by the Alliance for Climate Protection, Blue Green Alliance and the United Steelworkers, the event turned out more than 2,000. The rally marked the end of a month-long campaign with more than 50 events in 22 states, highlighting how transitioning to a clean energy economy will create jobs and break our dependence on foreign oil. Watch the video.
Global Wakeup Call Jolted the Globe
The global wake-up call, organized by TckTckTck and Avaaz.org was a huge success with over 3,000 events in 130 countries. If the size of the mobilization was remarkable, so was the direct advocacy that resulted with calls going in to ministers offices in at least 100 countries, and probably more. The Australians were particularly hot on the phone with several activists reaching the Climate Change Minister Penny Wong directly -- Avaaz.org's live blog allowed one caller to report that she 'sounded weary.' In the UK one of the flash-mobbers at the wake-up call in Parliament Square got through to Gordon Brown and appealed to him to do more. In response, Gordon Brown committed to personally go to Copenhagen. Watch the video.
Inside the Beltway
Interior EPA Appropriations Bill Passes Without Murkowski Amendment
Last Thursday, the Senate approved a $32 billion dollar appropriations bill with funding primarily for the EPA and Interior Department. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) sought to include an amendment to the bill that would prohibit the EPA from regulating stationary sources of carbon dioxide emissions for one year, but a floor vote was blocked by unanimous consent of Senate leadership. The amendment would have severely limit the agency’s ability to enforce the endangerment finding released by the EPA in April. Senator John Thune (R-SD), vowed to continue to fight to restrict the EPA’s regulatory authority. The climate community quickly pulled together to fight back this amendment issuing a letter to Congress stating strong opposition. Through a combination of in and outside the beltway grassroots and grassroots tops pressure we were able to help keep the amendment from coming to the floor. Read more at E&E (sub. req’d)
EPA Finalizes Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Rules
The EPA has finalized the reporting requirements for greenhouse gas emitters in the U.S., which will inform future emission reduction goals. The rule requires reporting from facilities that annually emit an amount greater than 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. About 10,000 facilities, accounting for 85 percent of the nation’s greenhouse emissions, will be covered by the reporting system. Emissions data collection will begin on January 1, 2010, with the first emissions reports due in March 2011. Read more at Greenwire
Initial “Smart Grid” Standards Released
Last week, the Commerce Department released a National Institute of Standards and Technology draft report containing 77 proposed “smart grid” standards. These standards are aimed at improving the communication and interoperability of the devices and systems that connect to the grid – from utility companies to individual homes. These improvements allow for better management of energy use and costs. The draft report now enters a 30-day public review period followed by the authorization of final standards by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Read more at Greenwire
Outside the Beltway
Three Energy Companies Abandon U.S. Chamber of Commerce
San Francisco-based power utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) abandoned its membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in protest over the organization's "extreme" position on climate change last week, and just a few days later, the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) and Exelon followed suit. "We find it dismaying that the Chamber neglects the indisputable fact that a decisive majority of experts have said the data on global warming are compelling and point to a threat that cannot be ignored,” PG&E Chairman and Chief Executive Peter Darbee. Nike and Johnson & Johnson recently criticized the organization's views on climate change, of which they are still members. Read more at New York Times