Environment Forum

from The Great Debate:

Senate retirements narrow cap-trade window

-- John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own --

kemp
LONDON - Yesterday's announcement by Senator Byron Dorgan (Democrat, North Dakota) that he would not seek a fourth term in November, coupled with today's expected announcement by Senator Chris Dodd (Democrat, Connecticut) that he won't seek a sixth term, will remove two veterans, once secure legislators from the Democratic caucus.
It highlights the mounting problems confronting congressional Democrats facing voters in November's midterms amid high unemployment, a relatively unpopular agenda led by the administration, and concerns about the party's capture by special interests.

Dodd's retirement is not surprising, given his plummeting poll numbers and criticism for being too close to the banking and insurance industries he regulates as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee but which have been major campaign contributors.

Despite trying to reinvent himself as a populist in recent months, the legislation he has worked on has sometimes appeared to show too much favouritism for the industry. He has also run into criticism for receiving VIP mortgages in 2003 from Angelo Mozilo's failed Countrywide Financial.

Dorgan's departure is more unexpected. He was re-elected with 68 percent of the vote in 2004. But the state leans towards the Republicans, breaking 53-45 percent in favour of Senator John McCain last year. A poll published last month showed Dorgan trailing behind popular state governor John Hoeven in a hypothetical match up.

SENATE VOTE TALLY
In terms of climate change legislation, the prospective departures do not change the overall calculus but do step up the pressure for legislation to be passed within the next six months, if it is to be passed at all.

from The Great Debate:

Cost of cap-and-trade for U.S. households

-- John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own --

How much are U.S. households prepared to pay to avert the threat of climate change? According to the latest polling data published by the Washington Post, the answer is not very much, probably not much more than $25 per month or $300 per year.

Most respondents (65 percent) believe the federal government should regulate greenhouse gases from sources like power plants, cars and factories, including those who believe this strongly (50 percent) or somewhat (15 percent). Only a minority think the government should not regulate them (29 percent).

While the margin favoring regulation has narrowed since the middle of the year (when it was 75 percent to 22 percent), probably in response to a vigorous opposition campaign, there is still a clear majority in favor of taking some action on climate change.

Cap and trade not the solution, climate scientist says

Fighting climate change is a huge investment opportunity but not through emissions trading and investors should instead put their money into renewables which will power the economy in the future, says a leading environmental scientist and cap and trade expert.

As yesterday’s walkout by African nations showed, getting anyone to agree on anything at the U.N. Climate Conference is easier said than done. The use of markets to address pollution is no different. Supporters of cap and trade — the system which allows companies or groups who meet their emissions targets to sell their remaining carbon credits — are out in force, but so are the groups who say the scheme prevents less responsible companies from breaking their bad habits.

Scientist Payal Parekh, from International Rivers, has come to Copenhagen to lobby on the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to highlight the failures of the cap and trade system. She said: “We are working here to ensure that we get ambitious reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases so that we can make a smooth and efficient transition to a clean and green economy. This means that we really need to set up a system that rewards innovators as opposed to allowing dirty industries to continue polluting.

from FaithWorld:

Christian Coalition joins hunting group in climate change fight

Remember the Christian Coalition of America?

Under the political operative Ralph Reed in the 1990s it was an electoral force to be reckoned with as it mobilized millions of conservative Christians to vote for mostly Republican Party candidates and causes.

It has since lost influence and political ground to other "religious right" groups such as the Family Research Council. But it remains a sizeable grassroots organization and is still unflinchingly conservative.

So it will no doubt surprise some to see that this week it has joined with the National Wildlife Federation -- whose 4 million members and supporters includes 420,000 sportsmen and women -- to run an ad urging the U.S. Senate to pass legislation that among other things addresses the pressing problem of climate change.

Carbon market: many projects, many clouds

Amanda Sutton looks over a wheat field in northern Colorado and sees a potential project that could help curb greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming.

“This is a patch of highly-cultivated land that could provide potential carbon offsets,” she said, standing by the field which is owned by the city of Fort Collins and the surrounding county.

“What we would do is take this wheat field and restore it to a native grassland which would sequester carbon from the atmosphere which we could potentially sell,” said Sutton, an environmental specialist with the city.

The Case Of The Forged Letters – a cap-and-trade mystery


A half-dozen fake letters, signed by people who don’t seem to exist and who work at made-up jobs, are causing a bit of buzz in the environmental world — mostly because the letters urged a Virginia congressman to vote against a cap-and-trade system to curb climate change.

The Sierra Club calls it “dirty tricks.” The Union of Concerned Scientists points out that the PR firm said to be behind the fake-letter lobbying effort has a history of working against climate legislation. Rep. Ed Markey, who chairs a House committee on energy independence and global warming, said the committee will investigate. The Daily Progress newspaper in Charlottesville published a detailed story.

The congressman, Tom Perriello, voted for the cap-and-trade bill anyway. It passed by a slim margin and the Senate is expected to take up this matter in September.

Chevron CEO sees smoke and mirrors in cap and trade

“If you liked credit derivatives swaps, you’re going to love cap-and-trade.”

One can presume that Chevron Chief Executive David O’Reilly is not a fan of the current deep worldwide recession — which was worsened by a credit-market lockup blamed in part on hard-to-value securities.

And, he made it very clear on Thursday that he is not enamored of the system the Obama administration hopes to use to reduce U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide, which are produced through the burning of fossil fuels sold by the No. 2 U.S. oil and gas company.

A scheme by any other name…

It was a discussion that would have made George Bernard Shaw smile. The British Nobel Prize-winning writer said America and England were separated by their common language.

Such was evident recently during a panel discussion at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills. The panel focused on the effort to limit carbon dioxide emissions by trading carbon credits, commonly called a cap-and-trade scheme, and creating such a system in the United States.

That’s the rub, said Elizabeth Kanna, a marketing professional who said that “scheme” is an awful choice because, for most Americans, it means something sinister.

Home is where the CO2 cost is — or will be

Home electric bills could rise as much as 30 percent under a U.S. cap-and-trade plan to address carbon dioxide emissions, Moody’s estimates.

The tough part for households is that Moody’s expects industrial users to figure out a way to duck the cost with special rates, meaning residential electric customers will carry “the vast majority” of the cost burden. Check out our story here.

If Moody’s is right, and if the cap-and-trade plan slows global warming, is the price right?

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