Byrd Says No To EPA Freeze. Wait, *That* Robert Byrd?
March 05, 2010
West Virginia is a heavy coal state. So it's not a shock to see one of its senators, Jay Rockefeller, introducing a bill that would freeze EPA regulations over greenhouse gases for a few years, since those rules could well make it impossible to build new dirty coal plants anywhere in the country.
Labor and Delivery
March 03, 2010
In a few weeks, Barack Obama will have a chance to do something he hasn’t done particularly well during his first year in office: successfully defy his opponents and, at the same time, reassure his most loyal supporters. At issue is the fate of Craig Becker, one of Obama’s nominees for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Last month, Becker was denied a vote on his nomination when Senate Democrats failed to overcome a GOP filibuster. Now, the Senate’s coming Easter break will give Obama an opportunity to put Becker on the NLRB via recess appointment.
Can Lawsuits Stop The EPA's Carbon Rules?
February 21, 2010
Quick recap: The EPA is moving ahead with its own regulations for greenhouse gases. (See this recent piece I did for a look at what those rules might look like.) The EPA isn't just doing this because it feels like it—back in 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that the agency was required to regulate carbon-dioxide and other heat-trapping gases under the Clean Air Act if it found that those gases posed a threat to health and public welfare.
February 08, 2010
It was always going to be tricky for Congress to pass a big climate-change bill this year. And now, post-Scott Brown, the odds are looking even bleaker. A lot of panicky Dems are blanching at the thought of another knockdown legislative brawl before the midterms, and there's even been talk of a smaller "energy-only" bill that would dish out subsidies for various technologies but wouldn't set hard limits on greenhouse gases. Cap-and-trade still has its backers in the Senate, but picking up 60 votes looks increasingly daunting. So is that it?
Suing Over Climate Change
January 27, 2010
Could climate policy end up getting thrashed out in the courts? That would be an ugly turn of events, but it could happen. The New York Times has a long piece today about the rise of "nuisance" suits that are being filed against major carbon-dioxide emitters. The Alaskan town of Kivalina, for instance, has sued two dozen fuel and utility companies, including Shell and ExxonMobil, accusing them of contributing to global warming and helping erode the town's shoreline.
Are The Senate Climate Talks Leading Anywhere?
January 24, 2010
From chatting with people on the Hill these past few days, it's clear that there's a lot of pessimism about the Senate passing a big climate bill this year. (And if nothing passes in 2010, next year won't be any easier, given that Democrats will likely lose a bunch of seats in the midterms.) The dour predictions aren't surprising, given that even health care reform is in peril right now.
Chu: Seriously Folks, We're In Favor Of Nuclear
January 21, 2010
Early last year, the Obama administration effectively canceled longstanding plans for a nuclear waste site at Yucca Mountain. That decision wasn't exactly a surprise: On the campaign trail, Obama had promised Nevadans that he'd shutter the unpopular project (there are perks to being an electoral swing state, after all), and, of course, the current Senate majority leader hails from Nevada.
January 16, 2010
Democrats in Congress have a lot to juggle in the year ahead. If they want to avoid a slaughter at the polls, they’ll need to boost job growth. Not only that, but Wall Street remains poorly regulated, and key allies are growing impatient for labor-law and immigration reform. So it’s hardly a shock to hear that some Dems would prefer to set aside tackling climate change--especially so soon after a grueling health care fight.
Reid Sticks To Spring Climate-Bill Schedule
January 15, 2010
Last week, I mentioned that it's too soon to start writing obits for the climate bill. A cap on greenhouse gases will face a lot of hard obstacles in the Senate, no question (especially if Republicans snag that Massachusetts seat), but energy and climate change still appears to be on the agenda for the spring. Here's Harry Reid, confirming that point in a speech to the Geothermal Energy Association this week: As you know, the House has passed a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill that does many of these things.
Murkowski's Campaign Against EPA Carbon Regs Hits A Snag
January 12, 2010
One of the big reasons a cap-and-trade bill could still pass Congress this year is the fact that the EPA is making preparations to put forward its own carbon regulations on power plants and other industrial sources. (I wrote a primer on what those rules would entail here.) That puts pressure on reluctant senators: Either they write a bill to deal with carbon emissions or else the EPA will use the clumsy tools under the Clean Air Act and do the job itself.