-- Jonathan Lear lunches with P.J. Crowley, orders a side of Greek philosophy. -- ConocoPhillips called taking away oil subsidies "un-American," but the CEO tells the Senate they didn't mean that "personally". -- Good to see Texas has its budget priorities in order
Is the Senate capable of passing anything these days? It turns out that even Harry Reid's stripped-down, near-skeletal energy bill might not survive a Republican filibuster. Here's The Hill's Darren Goode Republican leaders said Wednesday they cannot support the bill in its current form—mainly due to language retroactively removing a liability cap for oil-and-gas producers—and also want assurances they can offer amendments. What's this liability fight all about? A quick recap.
Last month, Henry Waxman and Ed Markey summoned the chairmen of the world's five big oil companies to testify before Congress. The execs from Shell, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, and Chevron spent much of their time trying to distance themselves from BP. We wouldn't have poisoned the Gulf the way BP did, they insisted. Unfortunately for them, Waxman and Markey weren't buying it, and noted that all the other oil companies had the exact same error-filled spill-response plans that BP did.
Earlier today, the chairmen of the world's five biggest oil companies went before the House energy committee to testify about the Gulf spill. Naturally, the CEOs from ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Shell all wanted to put as much distance as possible between themselves and BP, protesting that they would've never handled this mess so poorly. But Henry Waxman and Ed Markey weren't buying it: Mr. Markey added: “In preparation for this hearing, the committee reviewed the oil spill safety response plans for all of the companies here today.
According to Kate Sheppard, John Kerry has been telling people that he's lined up some serious industry support for his climate bill, which will be released on Monday. The Edison Electric Institute, which represents private electric utilities, will reportedly back the legislation, and the American Petroleum Institute will at least refrain from attacking it too bitterly. Meanwhile, the Post reports that Shell, BP, and ConocoPhillips will likely back the bill, too.
Shifting gears on the cap-and-trade debate is the latest proposed approach for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by decoupling the major emitters: utilities, industry, and transportation. The latter would be addressed through a "linked-carbon fee" on transportation fuels. That is, a gasoline carbon tax, but also on aviation fuel and diesel. While details are still forthcoming, on the surface there’s a lot to like. The transportation sector is one the largest contributors of GHGs in the U.S. today so any strategy to reduce emissions will have to start there.
Details about the forthcoming Senate climate bill are still scarce, alas. As mentioned earlier, the hot rumor of late is that Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman are planning to unveil a plan that would have a cap-and-trade system for emissions from electric utilities and then a separate "carbon fee" for oil and other transportation fuels, with the revenue either getting funneled back to consumers or used for projects that reduce oil consumption. And there are even some signs that this strategy could boost the bill's chances of passage.
Over the weekend, The Washington Post reported that John Kerry, Lindsey Graham, and Joe Lieberman are preparing to unveil their much-discussed Senate climate bill in the next few weeks. The eye-opening twist, though, is that their bill probably won’t include a single cap-and-trade program for the entire economy. Instead, it would include different types of pollution controls for different sectors.
The big news yesterday was that three companies—BP, ConocoPhillips, and Caterpillar—were pulling out of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a coalition of green groups and businesses that has been pushing for cap-and-trade. The two oil companies, BP and ConocoPhillips, had complained that the House climate bill put a disproportionate burden on transportation fuels and refiners. In a way, they're right. The House climate bill, after all, was written by Democrats, since most Republicans are too busy cackling about how global warming is all a hoax.
IF THERE WAS one thing George W. Bush and his clique were supposed to know, it was oil. That, at least, was the widespread consensus back in 2000, when Bush first sought the White House, and it was easy to understand why. Bush’s grandfather was an oilman. His father was an oilman. He himself had worked in oil. His vice presidential nominee, Dick Cheney, was the former CEO of energy giant Halliburton. His campaign’s chairman, Donald Evans, was CEO of the oil company Tom Brown.