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Pew Report on Clean Energy Urges National Policy; IndianaDG Says State Energy Policy Also Needed Like FITs January 24, 2013

Posted by Laura Arnold in Federal energy legislation, Feed-in Tariffs (FiT).
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Report: Lack of consistent policy holding back clean energy industry

Posted on 01/24/2013 by

Workers assemble a wind turbine blade at a factory in Grand Forks, North Dakota, in 2006. (Photo by tuey via Creative Commons)

Workers assemble a wind turbine blade at a factory in Grand Forks, North Dakota, in 2006. (Photo by tuey via Creative Commons)

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The Midwest has the potential for a thriving clean energy industry, but only if coherent policies are enacted at the state and federal level, clean-energy experts say.

Experts on the Midwestern clean-energy sector say the region stands to benefit because of its research universities, strong supply chains and a high level of manufacturing know-how.

But whether it does or not depends largely on policy-makers.

According to a report issued last week by Pew Charitable Trusts, hurdles to an expanded U.S. clean-energy sector include a lack of a national clean-energy standard and longstanding tax breaks for oil, gas and coal producers. Unless these and other issues are addressed, they could lead to billions of dollars of economic activity moving overseas, the analysis concluded.

“The Midwest looks to me like a great place for clean energy,” said Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew’s Clean Energy Program. But, she added, clean-energy leaders in the Midwest and nationwide “all said the same thing: The thing that makes it really hard for us is that we can’t plan.”

These conclusions come from two lines of investigation Pew undertook to prepare the report. They commissioned a detailed analysis of clean-energy trends by Pike Research, industry analysts who specialize in global clean-technology markets. Pew also conducted five regional roundtables of clean-energy business leaders, including researchers, manufacturers, companies deploying solar and biomass, and investors, as well as one national roundtable, all to get the industry’s take on how current policy was affecting them, and which policy changes would help.

Pew found that the industry was at a tipping point in the United States and globally. Investment is on the rise, prices for clean energy are falling, and more and more clean energy is being deployed.

“Clean energy is here to stay. It’s not niche. It’s quickly becoming cost-competitive and going into the next phase,” Cuttino said.

Indeed, investment rose six-fold between 2004 and 2011 and was projected to continue to rise. Clean-energy installations—installations of solar photovoltaics, onshore and offshore wind, marine and hydrokinetic energy, geothermal, concentrating solar thermal, and biomass—will create $1.9 trillion in revenue globally and $269 billion in the United States between 2012 and 2018, the Pike Research analysis concluded.

“We’re at a moment that looks like the auto industry at the turn of the 20th century or the early days of computers,” Cuttino said. “A whole bunch of actors are rushing in; we have an oversupply of production capacity, and more investments are coming because of the perception it’s going to take off.”

As a result, the race is on between nations seeking to become global leaders in clean energy technology, the Pew analysis concluded. That race will not last forever, business leaders warn, and it’s not yet clear whether the United States in general, and the Midwest in particular, is going to win.

Good news, bad news

There are some encouraging signs for the industry, both in the Midwest and nationally, Pew found. The United States attracted a record $48.1 billion in private clean-energy investments in 2011, and the nation remains a leader in clean-energy innovation.

But the Pew report pointed to signs of trouble. While U.S. solar installations have doubled each year since 2009, both Germany and Italy installed more than three times as much new solar last year. And China installed three times more wind in 2011 than the United States.

“These trends are worrisome because these are technologies that we really invented and we used to manufacture and export,” Cuttino said. “Now we’re finding that we’re not playing at the same levels as other countries. Of the top 10 wind and solar companies in the world, we only have one of each,” she pointed out.

The reasons for this include fierce international competition, including tariffs, tight credit markets, and policies that favor established fossil-fuel-based power over clean energy in the United States.

What’s more, in other nations clean energy has not become the political football it has become here, said Aaron LeMieux, the founder and CEO of Tremont Electric, a six-year-old Cleveland-based company that specializes in harvesting kinetic energy.

“When we go to other countries like Japan, there’s a compelling understanding of what clean energy is and the need to have new [energy] technology alongside existing technology,” LeMieux said. In the United States, in contrast, “renewable energy technology tends to be a partisan argument between Democrats and Republicans.”

“At our business roundtables, they were kind of shocked that this had become a politicized issue,” Cuttino added. “They’d seen government engage in support for new and emerging industries—computers, trains, railroads and others. They couldn’t understand why not this sector.”

Investment without rewards?

As a result of our policy confusion, “we continue to innovate, but we don’t necessarily reap the rewards of our innovation and risk taking,” LeMieux said. “That’s passed to other countries to be able to build, manufacture, and deploy these technologies.”

In Pew’s roundtables, business leaders like LeMieux named the U.S. clean-energy industry’s biggest obstacles as policy uncertainty, global oversupply, international competition, access to credit and private investment, and the uneven playing field with established fossil-fuel-based energy.

But new national policies would create opportunity as well. A national Clean Energy Standard could stimulate demand for renewable energy. Such a standard would be broader than state renewable energy standards in that it might include natural gas and nuclear. The nation could invest more in basic energy research, which lags dramatically behind comparable investments in the health-care and defense sectors, Cuttino said.

Effective policies to facilitate private sector investment in the industry could help, business leaders told Pew.

For example, the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit, which was established as part of the 2009 Recovery Act, provided a 30 percent tax incentive for investments of clean energy manufacturing. Far more companies applied than received funds, and it was documented to create 17,000 jobs at 180 facilities in 43 states, Cuttino said. The tax credit has expired but could be renewed.

Clean-energy business leaders also suggested such measures as getting rid of special tax credits for oil and gas industries. Some suggested getting rid of all subsidies, or taxing the health and environmental costs incurred by burning gas, oil and coal, Cuttino said.

“Now is the time for our policy makers to really level the playing field so that entrepreneurs and business leaders can compete with our competitors throughout the world,” LeMieux said.

We also need a clear national policy aimed at phasing in more clean energy, LeMieux said. “Quite a few other countries are leading the charge in terms of clean energy. All have a national energy strategy.”

That strategy should include a clean energy standard, the business leaders assembled by Pew concluded. Although 33 states have renewable portfolio standards, the lack of a federal standard harms the industry and keeps it from growing, LeMieux said.

“We’re trying to tell people in Washington, D.C., that this is a big issue.”

A manufacturing powerhouse

With effective policy changes, the Midwest could become a national leader in clean energy manufacturing, technology and R&D, LeMieux said.

“The Midwest is the manufacturing powerhouse of the nation. It always has been,” he said.

And more clean energy could mean more good jobs in the region, said Laura Arnold, president of the Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit that promotes distributed renewable energy.

The real economic development potential is not just building wind farms, Arnold said. “The real potential is in the manufacturing, not just buying and installing and producing renewable electricity. That’s where the middle-class manufacturing jobs come from.”

Companies producing those jobs could make renewable energy components for export as well as domestic markets, Arnold said. Abound Solar, a Colorado-based company, was planning to create 800 jobs in Tipton, Indiana, to manufacture solar photovoltaic panels and they were planning to export 90 percent of what they made. In that case the plans were canceled, but they showed what’s possible, Arnold said.

The United States in general, and the Midwest in particular, “has the manufacturing know-how to put out a quality product,” Arnold said.

States matter, too

The policy changes Pew suggests could go a long way, but changes at the state level are also essential, Arnold said.

Germany and Italy, for example, have feed-in tariffs, which reward people for installing solar panels by ensuring a long-term, steady, and high price for the electricity they generate. If Midwestern states chose to establish such policies, markets would grow, helping the region’s clean-energy industry flourish, Arnold said.

In Indiana, in contrast, “you can’t buy electricity from anyone other than your friendly electric utility,” she said. Policies that allow more choice would grow the market for renewable energy, she emphasized.

Other state and local policies could spur demand for renewable energy in the region. Today, there are people in urban neighborhoods who might want to install solar panels but don’t have good exposure to the sun. If a church in the neighborhood has an annex with a great rooftop, they could provide solar power to their neighbors, but only if local and state policies allow for community energy systems, Arnold said.

“I’m not sure how to do that with national legislation. I think it has to be done at the state level to permit more creative ways for people to own a piece of a small distributed system,” she said.

“Yes, there’s an overriding need for national policy, Arnold concluded. “but the real nitty-gritty work still has to take place at the state level.”

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story misidentified the solar company that had planned to locate in Tipton, Indiana.

Great Video Explaining Federal Wind Energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) in Under 3 Minutes! WSJ Update on PTC January 1, 2013

Posted by Laura Arnold in Federal energy legislation, Uncategorized.
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How the wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) works: http://lnkd.in/zwU6Ym

This is a great use of YouTube by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) explaining both the what and why of the PTC.

WATCH IT NOW and then send it to your friends.

More details on this likely to unfold. Watch this blog for more details. In the meantime, here is an article from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal.

Laura Ann Arnold

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WSJ: Cliff Deal Likely To Include Wind Tax Credit, Aides Say

By RYAN TRACY And KEITH JOHNSON; December 31, 2012, 3:10 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON—A potential last-minute deal on the fiscal cliff is likely to include an extension of an expiring wind-energy tax credit, according to congressional aides.

The deal taking shape Monday would include tax breaks adopted by the Senate Finance Committee earlier this year, aides with knowledge of the talks said. Among them was a one-year extension of the tax credit, with slight modifications that would allow wind-farm developers to claim the credit for projects that begin construction by Jan. 1, 2014.

As the law currently stands, only projects that are completed and connected to the electricity grid by the end of 2012 can claim the credit.

Aides cautioned that the fiscal-cliff deal and its components weren’t final. Any package agreed to by lead negotiators also would have to be passed by the Senate and House.

President Barack Obama, speaking Monday afternoon about the emerging deal, referred to clean-energy tax credits without mentioning wind power specifically. He said the deal “would extend tax credits for clean-energy companies that are creating jobs and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.”

The cost of extending the wind-energy credit could be about $12 billion over 10 years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. Wind energy provides about 3.2% of U.S. electricity.

The tax credit is worth 2.2 cents for every kilowatt hour of electricity generated by a wind farm, so long as the facility is connected to the grid by the expiration date.

The last-minute renewal of the credit would arrive after months of heated battle. Proponents of wind energy, including clean-energy advocates—but also many Republicans from states such as Iowa and Colorado with healthy wind-power sectors—argued that extending the credit was key to preserving 75,000 jobs in the wind-energy business. They said that the expiration of the tax credit would have cost 37,000 jobs.

Opponents say that at a time of fiscal austerity, extending the credit is too expensive. Additionally, critics of wind power say it does little to make electricity generation more environmentally friendly because wind farms require some traditional sources of power as back up.

Power companies had also joined the fray. Exelon Corp., EXC +2.34% one of the largest utilities in the U.S., lobbied not to extend the credit, saying the subsidy distorts electricity prices and makes the company less likely to add new generating capacity.

NextEra Energy Inc., NEE +1.38% the largest U.S. wind generator, pushed to extend the credit.

If the credit is extended, attention would likely turn to ways to modify how the government supports wind energy. One proposal, endorsed by the wind lobby itself, would phase out tax credits over several years, giving the industry a chance to close the cost gap with traditional sources of power while still enjoying some government support.

Another proposal, introduced in Congress last summer, would make it easier for individuals to invest in renewable-energy projects by giving them the same tax treatment—access to master limited partnerships—that oil and gas projects receive. By widening the pool of investors, it could reduce capital costs, which could make renewable energy more competitive with traditional power sources.

The months of uncertainty over the credit’s extension mean that plenty of damage already has been done to the project pipeline and wind energy’s manufacturing base.

Uncertainty surrounding the credit led companies throughout the industry to lay off employees in 2012, from big makers of wind turbines such as Siemens AGSIE.XE -0.59% to small outfits that make some of the 8,000 components that go inside each machine. Also, because wind-farm developers hurried to finish projects in 2012 before the credit expired, a good part of the pipeline for future projects has already been installed, which will further damp the prospects for 2013.

By allowing wind projects that begin construction in 2013 to become eligible, the Senate Finance Committee’s version of the extension would support wind-farm construction over at least the next two years. A one-year extension without that modification would have been essentially useless, given that it can take between 12 and 24 months to build a wind farm.

South Bend alternative energy supporter hopes Sen. Lugar continues effort for energy jobs in Indiana May 1, 2012

Posted by Laura Arnold in Biofuels, Federal energy legislation, Uncategorized.
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Dear IndianaDG Readers,

I just received this via email this evening. I just called Sam and told him that I would share his Op Ed with IndianaDG readers. Here goes…

Laura Ann Arnold

Hello Laura,

I am a resident in South Bend and have been a supporter of alternative energy for many years. I am hoping that Senator Lugar will continue his tremendous effort for energy jobs in Indiana along with support from the community.  I have written an op ed that I think outlines the Senators recent achievements and I was hoping to share it with your viewers.  I have attached my copy for your review please accept my kindest regards and best wishes.

Sincerely,

Sam Pellerito

sampellerito@gmail.com

Farm Energy Has Made Tremendous Progress

The good news about the Senate Agriculture Committee’s draft Farm Bill, released last week, is that it reauthorizes renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. These programs are just beginning to have a positive impact in revitalizing rural America, fueling economic growth and job creation where we need it most. Ongoing funding for these programs would provide the highest return on taxpayer dollars and ensure the future of emerging energy and renewable chemical markets.

The Farm Bill enacted 10 years ago in 2002 was the first to contain an energy title. But most of the programs being reauthorized only came into being in 2008. And it wasn’t until late 2010 and early 2011 that final rules for these programs were published.

Still, in that relatively short time span, these programs have helped renewable energy companies unlock private capital for construction of advanced biorefineries, something that has been extraordinarily difficult during the recent economic downturn. They have also helped farmers in over 150 counties across 10 states begin to put more than 150,000 acres of underutilized farmland into production of next generation energy crops. The programs have further ignited an explosion of innovation and early commercialization of renewable chemicals here in the United States. Overall, the programs have demonstrated a high rate of success.

The Biobased Markets Program, first enacted in 2002, has been tremendously successful in supporting the emergence of a new market for agriculture-based or biobased products. The first six categories of products eligible for this program were designated in March 2006, following a lengthy rulemaking process. By 2007, a U.S. International Trade Commission survey of the industry identified 5,700 workers at 159 companies manufacturing these products. Today, there are 64 categories of biobased products eligible for the program. And a recent Iowa State survey of the industry has identified more than 100,000 workers making or selling these products.

The first large-scale renewable chemical company in the United States, NatureWorks LLC in Nebraska, was established in 2002. In 2009, the plant doubled capacity in order to meet demand for its renewable, biodegradable product. Similarly, another early renewable chemical company, DuPont Tate & Lyle Bioproducts in Tennessee, recently expanded production to meet rising demand. Myriant is working to complete a large scale biorefinery in Louisiana to produce renewable chemicals. And many other renewable chemical companies are looking to locate new construction here in the United States, if the policy environment is right.

The Biorefinery Assistance Program can show a similar record of success. While it is rooted in the 2002 Farm Bill’s grant program, the program only began to work with private companies in late 2009. The first advanced biofuel biorefineries successfully secured private financing in late 2011, with the backing of this program. INEOS New Planet Energy is under construction in Florida and will begin commercial production of cellulosic biofuel this summer.

The Farm Bill’s energy title programs have provided a strong return for American taxpayers and have produced demonstrated results. New markets for agricultural products are emerging, creating new opportunities for U.S. companies and skilled workers. The programs are also providing environmental benefits, because renewable energy and chemicals are cleaner, safer and healthier. Congress should continue to provide significant funding for the farm bill energy title so we can continue to foster American innovation.  With the progress that has been made and with more companies ready to build biobased manufacturing facilities, these forward-looking, high-return programs are a much-needed part of the Farm Bill.

Indiana US Senators Lugar and Coats Vote Against Amendment to Extend Renewable Tax Credits; Fails on tie vote of 49-49 March 17, 2012

Posted by Laura Arnold in Federal energy legislation, Uncategorized.
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This article is from 25x’25.

The 25x’25 Weekly REsource is a digest that features items from this week’s blog site, the 25x’25 REsource, and other sources. The 25x’25 REsource and the 25x’25 Weekly REsource complement the role of 25x’25 as an objective and trusted source of information on agricultural and forestry renewable energy and climate solutions. To subscribe to the 25x’25 Blog, click here for simple instructions. Also, visit us at our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter.

Amendment to Extend Renewable Tax Credits Falls Short; New Proposal Surfaces

Legislation extending and renewing a variety of renewable energy tax benefits failed to pass the Senate this week, falling on a tie vote Tuesday, 49-49. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) introduced the package of nearly 20 credits and programs as an amendment to the Surface Transportation Authorization bill passed by the Senate Wednesday.

However, late Thursday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers, headed by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) proposed a narrower package of tax credit extensions for renewable technologies.

The legislation would extend through the end of 2014 the wind-energy production tax credit (PTC) set to expire Dec. 31, as well as a PTC for several other technologies set to expire at the end of 2013. The measure, which may be attached to a jobs bill that passed out of the House by a wide margin and is pending on the Senate floor, would extend a tax deduction of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour to developers of wind and closed-loop biomass systems. A 1.1-cent/kWh tax credit would be extended to those developing open-loop biomass, geothermal, landfill gas, municipal solid waste, hydropower and marine and hydrokinetic facilities. The credits apply to projects that come into service before Jan. 1, 2015.

Elements in the Stabenow amendment not included in the measure from Grassley and other senators is an extension of the “Section 1603” Treasury Department Program offering grants in lieu of tax credits to provide developers more liquidity in a tight credit market, while stabilizing investment.

Also rejected earlier this week, 21-76, was another amendment, this one from Sen. Jim Demint, R-S.C., which he said would end all energy-related tax credits and use the savings to establish a lower, flat-rate corporate tax.

Stabenow had argued that allowing the credits and programs to expire, or remain expired, would be tantamount to a tax increase on “businesses that are creating clean energy jobs in America.” The amendment even had the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

But the measure fell far short of the 60 votes required for passage under Senate rules, with a number of negative votes stemming from lawmakers’ refusal to extend programs originally funded under the American Restoration and Recovery Act, President Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill.

The Grassley bill is expected to draw the support of members who rejected the Stabenow measure because it revived elements of the American Recovery and Restoration Act, legislation pushed by President Obama as a one-time stimulus package aimed at helping revive the nation’s stagnating economy.

Industry leaders are continually exploring other vehicles by which the credits and programs can be revived and extended, though many had seen the bipartisan-supported surface transportation as the only viable possibility of passage in a highly contentious Congress during a presidential election year. Some have suggested a lame-duck session after the November elections may be an opportunity.

However, reports indicate Grassley may attach his coalition’s proposal to a jobs bill that widely passed the House and is now pending on the Senate floor. Action may come as soon as next week.

Indiana U.S. Senators  Daniel Coats  and Richard Lugar both voted NO.

Coats, Daniel                                        – (R – IN) Class III
493 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC       20510
(202) 224-5623
                             Web Form:                         www.coats.senate.gov/contact/
Lugar, Richard G.                                        – (R – IN) Class I
306 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-4814
                             Web Form:                       www.lugar.senate.gov/contact/

Solyndra Was Banking on Energy Bill, E-Mails Show – Amy Harder – NationalJournal.com; What does this mean for Indiana? October 6, 2011

Posted by Laura Arnold in Federal energy legislation, Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), Uncategorized.
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Solyndra Was Banking on Energy Bill, E-Mails Show – Amy Harder – NationalJournal.com.

Solyndra could still be in business had Congress passed a comprehensive energy bill last year, recently released e-mails indicate.

A May 2010 e-mail exchange between senior Energy Department advisers Matt Rogers and Rod O’Connor show Solyndra’s executives were “counting on” Congress passing an energy bill that would have included major policies promoting renewable energy nationwide.

Click link above for the entire story.

Are you tired of the Solyndra stories? What are you doing to change the focus of the news media to a more positive outlook for solar and renewable energy? Share your ideas with the other blog readers.

P.S. National news reporters are looking for “blood in the water” in Indiana and want to know if Abound Solar will be the next Solyndra.

Indiana Senate Utilities Committee to Hear SB 102 on 1/20 to Allow Utility Recovery of Federally Manadated Costs January 19, 2011

Posted by Laura Arnold in 2011 Indiana General Assembly, Federal energy legislation, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Uncategorized.
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Agenda for : Senate Utilities & Technology Committee

DATE: Thursday, January 20, 2011

TIME: 10:00 AM EST

PLACE: Room 233, State House, Indianapolis, IN

Chairman : Merritt

Members:

Leising R.M., Gard, Kruse, Schneider, Tomes, Yoder,

Randolph, R.M.M., Breaux, R. Young

Hearing : SB 0102 Utility recovery of federally mandated costs. (Gard, Merritt, Hume)

Digest: Utility recovery of federally mandated costs. Requires the Indiana utility regulatory commission to allow an energy utility to recover certain federally mandated costs through periodic retail rate adjustment mechanisms.

Here is the full text of the bill:

SOURCE: IC 8-1-2-6.9; (11)IN0102.1.1. –>     SECTION 1. IC 8-1-2-6.9 IS ADDED TO THE INDIANA CODE AS A NEW SECTION TO READ AS FOLLOWS [EFFECTIVE UPON PASSAGE]: Sec. 6.9. (a) As used in this section, “energy utility” has the meaning set forth in IC 8-1-2.5-2.
    (b) As used in this section, “federally mandated costs” means capital, operation, maintenance, depreciation, research and development, tax, or carrying costs that an energy utility incurs in complying with mandates that are, or with reasonable certainty will be, imposed on the energy utility by the federal government related to the following:
        (1) Environmental laws, rules, regulations, or consent decrees, including clean air standards and costs associated with:
            (A) reducing or offsetting the emission of greenhouse gases; or
            (B) the purchase of emission allowances.
        (2) Renewable portfolio or energy efficiency standards, including projects at existing generating facilities to allow for fuel switching, including the use of natural or substitute natural gas.
        (3) Participation in one (1) or more industry reliability organizations, including a regional transmission organization.
        (4) Transmission and distribution pipeline integrity and safety.
    (c) An energy utility may petition the commission to recover federally mandated costs through a periodic retail rate adjustment mechanism. If the commission finds, after notice and hearing, that an energy utility’s proposed periodic retail rate adjustment mechanism reasonably complies with this section, the commission shall approve the periodic retail rate adjustment mechanism and authorize the timely recovery of federally mandated costs by the energy utility.
    (d) The commission shall adjust any changes in charges approved for an energy utility under section 42(d) or 42(g) of this chapter or IC 8-1-13-30(d), as applicable, to permit the energy utility to retain revenues resulting from a periodic retail rate adjustment mechanism approved under this section.
 
SOURCE: ; (11)IN0102.1.2. –>     SECTION 2. An emergency is declared for this act. 

HB 1160 introduced by Rep. Larry Lutz (R-Anderson) who chairs the House Utilities and Energy Committee appears to be identical to SB 102.

Politico Guest Editorial: Reduce out-of-control spending; Rep. Upton calls for freeze to weatherization, EnergyStar November 15, 2010

Posted by Laura Arnold in Energy Efficient Buildings, Federal energy legislation, Uncategorized.
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ENERGY POLICY:Upton calls for freeze to weatherization, EnergyStar (11/15/2010)Katherine Ling, E&E reporter

The leading candidate to become chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee today boosted his conservative credentials, laying out a plan to cut federal government spending levels including freezing programs that support energy efficiency retrofits in homes and efficiency labeling for appliances.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) wants to seize unspent stimulus funds and change committee rules to require all committee legislation be offset by cuts to programs within the committee’s jurisdiction, he wrote today in an opinion editorial in Politico. Grover Norquist, president of the conservative group Americans for Tax Reform, co-authored the piece.

Upton also wants to go “line by line” through the budget to identify potential cuts, according to the op-ed. The piece singles out the Energy Department’s weatherization program — which provides funding to states to help low-income families reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient — and DOE and U.S. EPA’s energy efficiency labeling program “EnergyStar” as two programs that need to be re-examined or cut.

“From fraud in the EnergyStar program to ridiculous delays in the implementation of the $5-billion stimulus weatherization program, programs not working as intended must be frozen until we can determine how to fix them,” Upton wrote. “Or whether they should simply be discontinued and return the taxpayers their money.”

DOE has recently cracked down on several EnergyStar-labeled products, including lamps, air conditioners and freezers, that have failed to meet EnergyStar efficiency levels in audits. DOE issued the first consent decree and a fine of $150,000 to Haier America last January for EnergyStar violations on some of its freezers (E&ENews PM, Jan. 7).

The weatherization program has come under scrutiny this year after Congress provided $5 billion in the stimulus for the program but DOE encountered serious delays in getting the money to actual projects in states because of federal requirements regarding wages, “Buy America,” and historic preservation (E&ENews PM, Feb. 23). The Illinois weatherization program has also specifically been criticized by DOE’s inspector general for “substandard” workmanship, inflated material costs and inadequate inspections (Greenwire, Oct. 19).

As of August the program had weatherized 341,326 homes compared to 30,297 homes near the beginning of the year, according to a DOE report. DOE expects to retrofit 586,015 homes by the end of 2011.

Upton is the ranking member of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee on the Energy and Commerce Committee and is seeking to be chairman of the committee when the House reconvenes next session under a Republican majority. Reps. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) and John Shimkus (R-Ill.) are also seeking the chairmanship. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) is currently ranking member of the full committee but is term-limited under GOP rules, although he is seeking a waiver so he can take the top spot in the new Congress (Greenwire, Nov. 11).

Upton is considered the most politically moderate of the quartet, so his decision to pen a piece with Norquist has political significance. Conservative GOPers have voiced concern about Upton’s “moderate” record, and Barton has highlighted it in public statements, which he compares to his “consistent conservative commitment” (E&ENews PM, Nov. 10).

Upton said in the piece that the committee can no longer afford to “pass the buck to the appropriators.” He called for all offsets to be made from spending programs, not “tax increases,” and for cuts to be 10 percent higher than the projected costs for the legislation.

“If we cut 10 percent more than is necessary, we could have an added safeguard,” Upton wrote. “And if the [Congressional Budget Office] estimate is accurate, the result will be a reduction in federal spending. It is a win-win situation that is likely to have immediate results.”

Reduce out-of-control spending now
By: Grover G. Norquist and Rep. Fred Upton
November 15, 2010 04:31 AM EST
The federal budget deficits reported in 2009 and 2010 were the highest on record since 1945, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, approximately $1.4 trillion and $1.3 trillion, respectively. (That’s trillion with a capital T.) Under the Democrats’ one-party reign the last two years, the size of government has exploded and the United States has added an unprecedented $2.7 trillion to the national debt, amounting to nearly $5 billion dollars a day.Meanwhile, again according to the CBO, federal spending has grown from 20.1 percent of gross domestic product in 2006 (the year before Nancy Pelosi became speaker, and slightly below the historical average), to 23.8 percent of GDP (a record but for 2009’s all-time high) on Election Day 2010. Washington clearly has a spending problem — not a tax revenue problem.The American people are fed up and demand that we tackle government spending and the federal budget deficit immediately. The days of the administration printing more money as a solution to meet budget shortfalls are now over.While it is true that the Energy and Commerce Committee is not ground zero for budget work, every committee must play an integral role in cutting spending and reining in the dramatic expanse of government. A first step for every committee must be to repeal the billions of dollars of unspent stimulus funds in their jurisdiction.

We must also stop letting legislation move through the committee process with the opaque, anything goes “such sums as may be necessary” appropriations language. Even when legislators have a specific spending figure in mind, they routinely use this smoke-and-mirrors tactic to get bills through the committee process and evade a difficult debate on spending.

Drafting legislation in such a consequence-free environment allows committees to pass the buck to the appropriators. But we cannot afford to pass the buck on our futures any longer.

It is time we immediately assumed responsibility for our out-of-control spending crisis before the hole gets any deeper and future generations are in greater peril. Under a new House Republican majority, we must swiftly change committee rules to ban this grossly irresponsible practice.

 

To immediately cut spending and the size and scope of government, we must also require that any committee legislation scored by CBO have a net cost to taxpayers directly offset by cuts to programs within that committee’s jurisdiction. Moreover, we must not tolerate any “offsets” from tax increases. 

In the next Congress, at least 235 members will have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Tax hikes are off the table — forcing us all to focus on the actual problem: spending.

By changing committee rules for Energy and Commerce, as well as others, we must also require that legislation go one step further, and cut 10 percent more than the projected costs — to ensure that any new program will actually be covered.

This means that a $1-million program would need a $1.1 million offset. If we cut 10 percent more than is necessary, we could have an added safeguard. And if the CBO estimate is accurate, the result will be a reduction in federal spending. It is a win-win situation that is likely to have immediate results.

Vigorous oversight is also an absolute necessity in the next Congress. Committees must hold budget hearings for every agency within their jurisdiction, and then, as candidate Obama promised, go line-by-line through each budget to identify potential items to cut. A chainsaw would be the recommended tool of choice.

Oversight will also help expose additional government waste. As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said, “Sunshine is the best disinfectant.”

From fraud in the EnergyStar program to ridiculous delays in the implementation of the $5-billion stimulus weatherization program, programs not working as intended must be frozen until we can determine how to fix them. Or whether they should simply be discontinued and return the taxpayers their money.

The American people have spoken, and it is the responsibility of the newly elected Republican majority to chart a new course of limited government and less spending. That begins at the committee process — and the deficit must be in the crosshairs.

Grover Norquist is the president of Americans for Tax Reform. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) is the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment.

© 2010 Capitol News Company, LLC

BIOFUELS: Lawmakers press for new policy in lame duck November 14, 2010

Posted by Laura Arnold in Biofuels, Federal energy legislation.
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11/10/2010

Allison Winter, E&E reporter

A group of Midwestern senators is pressing Senate leaders to include a broad new federal support system for biofuels in an energy bill that could come up for a vote as soon as next week.

Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Christopher Bond (R-Mo.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) want Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to extend a controversial ethanol tax credit and advance provisions aimed at expanding biofuels markets.

Their request, sent to Reid yesterday, indicates that a fairly narrow natural gas bill — up for consideration in next week’s lame-duck congressional session — could become a target for a number of other proposals lawmakers want to eke out before Democrats lose numbers in the House and Senate next year. The natural gas bill is scheduled for a cloture vote next Wednesday.

Saying they are “deeply concerned” that marketplace limitations are constraining the growth of the biofuels industry, the senators vowed to work for bipartisan support of the bill if it contains provisions to help biofuels. They are pushing for “market expansion provisions,” like federal support for flex-fuel vehicles or fuel pumps that could offer options for higher blends of ethanol.

“Quite simply, we need more vehicles that can utilize high percentages of ethanol and other biofuels, we need to develop pipelines to transport these fuels from their production sites to the largest markets, and we need to ensure that these high renewable content fuels are available at filling stations across the country,” a letter from the senators says.

The lawmakers are also pushing for an extension of a controversial ethanol tax credit that would otherwise expire at the end of the year. The letter says the volumetric ethanol excise tax credit “deserves review” over the long term but asks for its continuation until other biofuels support systems are in place.

The senators estimate the policies could lead to a fivefold increase in ethanol’s displacement of oil over the next 20 years.

Their efforts come at a critical time for federal ethanol support programs. The current ethanol credits are on the verge of expiring, and Congress has thus far been unable to extend a less costly and less controversial biodiesel tax credit that already expired last year.

NYT: Climate Change Doubt Is Tea Party Article of Faith; Baron Hill v. Todd Young October 21, 2010

Posted by Laura Arnold in Emissions Trading/Cap and Trade, Federal energy legislation.
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http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/21/us/politics/21climate.html
October 20, 2010
By JOHN M. BRODER

JASPER, Ind. — At a candidate forum here last week, Representative Baron P. Hill, a threatened Democratic incumbent in a largely conservative southern Indiana district, was endeavoring to explain his unpopular vote for the House cap-and-trade energy bill.

It will create jobs in Indiana, reduce foreign oil imports and address global warming, Mr. Hill said at a debate with Todd Young, a novice Republican candidate who is supported by an array of Indiana Tea Party groups and is a climate change skeptic.

“Climate change is real, and man is causing it,” Mr. Hill said, echoing most climate scientists. “That is indisputable. And we have to do something about it.”

A rain of boos showered Mr. Hill, including a hearty growl from Norman Dennison, a 50-year-old electrician and founder of the Corydon Tea Party.

“It’s a flat-out lie,” Mr. Dennison said in an interview after the debate, adding that he had based his view on the preaching of Rush Limbaugh and the teaching of Scripture. “I read my Bible,” Mr. Dennison said. “He made this earth for us to utilize.”

Skepticism and outright denial of global warming are among the articles of faith of the Tea Party movement, here in Indiana and across the country. For some, it is a matter of religious conviction; for others, it is driven by distrust of those they call the elites. And for others still, efforts to address climate change are seen as a conspiracy to impose world government and a sweeping redistribution of wealth. But all are wary of the Obama administration’s plans to regulate carbon dioxide, a ubiquitous gas, which will require the expansion of government authority into nearly every corner of the economy.

“This so-called climate science is just ridiculous,” said Kelly Khuri, founder of the Clark County Tea Party Patriots. “I think it’s all cyclical.”

“Carbon regulation, cap and trade, it’s all just a money-control avenue,” Ms. Khuri added. “Some people say I’m extreme, but they said the John Birch Society was extreme, too.”

Whatever the party composition of the next Congress, cap and trade is likely dead for the foreseeable future. If dozens of new Republican climate skeptics are swept into Congress, the prospects for assertive federal action to control global warming gases, including regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency, will grow dimmer than they already are.

Those who support the Tea Party movement are considerably more dubious about the existence and effects of global warming than the American public at large, according to a New York Times/CBS News Poll conducted this month. The survey found that only 14 percent of Tea Party supporters said that global warming is an environmental problem that is having an effect now, while 49 percent of the rest of the public believes that it is. More than half of Tea Party supporters said that global warming would have no serious effect at any time in the future, while only 15 percent of other Americans share that view, the poll found.

And 8 percent of Tea Party adherents volunteered that they did not believe global warming exists at all, while only 1 percent of other respondents agreed.

Those views in general align with those of the fossil fuel industries, which have for decades waged a concerted campaign to raise doubts about the science of global warming and to undermine policies devised to address it.

They have created and lavishly financed institutes to produce anti-global-warming studies, paid for rallies and Web sites to question the science, and generated scores of economic analyses that purport to show that policies to reduce emissions of climate-altering gases will have a devastating effect on jobs and the overall economy.

Their views are spread by a number of widely followed conservative opinion leaders, including Mr. Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, George Will and Sarah Palin, who oppose government programs to address climate change and who question the credibility and motives of the scientists who have raised alarms about it.

Groups that help support Tea Party candidates include climate change skepticism in their core message. Americans for Prosperity, a group founded and largely financed by oil industry interests, has sponsored what it calls a Regulation Reality Tour to stir up opposition to climate change legislation and federal regulation of carbon emissions. Its Tea Party talking points describe a cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions as “the largest excise tax in history.”

FreedomWorks, another group supported by the oil industry, helps organize Tea Party rallies and distributes fliers urging opposition to federal climate policy, which it calls a “power grab.”

“Any effort to make electricity and fuel more expensive or to cap or regulate CO2 will only exacerbate an already critical situation and cause tremendous economic damage,” FreedomWorks says on its Web site.

The oil, coal and utility industries have collectively spent $500 million just since the beginning of 2009 to lobby against legislation to address climate change and to defeat candidates, like Mr. Hill, who support it, according to a new analysis from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a left-leaning advocacy group in Washington.

Their message appears to have fallen on receptive ears. Of the 20 Republican Senate candidates in contested races, 19 question the science of global warming and oppose any comprehensive legislation to deal with it, according to a National Journal survey.

The only exception is Mark Steven Kirk, the Republican Senate nominee in Illinois, who was one of only eight Republicans to vote for the House cap-and-trade bill sponsored by Representatives Henry A. Waxman of California and Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, both Democrats. (One of the other Republican “yes” votes was cast by Representative Michael N. Castle of Delaware, who blames that vote in part for his primary election defeat by Christine O’Donnell, the Tea Party candidate and a global warming skeptic.)

A large majority of Tea Party-supported House candidates also doubt global warming science and oppose energy legislation designed to address it.

Mr. Young, the Indiana Republican nominee trying to unseat Mr. Hill for the Ninth Congressional District seat, strongly opposes cap and trade and other unilateral measures to combat global warming. He says he is uncertain what is causing the observed heating of the planet, adding that it could be caused by sunspots or the normal cycles of nature.

“The science is not settled,” he said in an interview in his headquarters in Bloomington, Ind. And he said that given the scientific uncertainty, it was not wise to make major changes in the nation’s energy economy to reduce carbon emissions.

A third candidate in the Indiana Congressional race, Greg Knott, a libertarian, said he accepted the scientific consensus on climate change but opposed a nationwide cap-and-trade system as the answer.

Lisa Deaton, a small-business owner in Columbus, Ind., who started We the People Indiana, a Tea Party affiliate, is supporting Mr. Young in part because of his stand against climate change legislation.

“They’re trying to use global warming against the people,” Ms. Deaton said. “It takes way our liberty.”

“Being a strong Christian,” she added, “I cannot help but believe the Lord placed a lot of minerals in our country and it’s not there to destroy us.”

Reid to advance limited oil spill and energy bill, delaying climate action July 22, 2010

Posted by Laura Arnold in Emissions Trading/Cap and Trade, Federal energy legislation.
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By Darren Goode – 07/22/10 11:19 AM ET  

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will bring a limited package of oil spill response and energy measures to the floor next week, delaying action until at least this fall on a broader proposal that would impose greenhouse gas limits on power plants, senior Senate Democratic aides said.

Aides insisted Reid’s decision is a nod to the packed floor schedule the Senate faces before it leaves in two weeks for the August recess, and that he he has not abandoned plans to try and bring up a broader climate and energy plan later in the year.

But other legislative priorities and election-year politics may scuttle the wider climate and energy plan altogether.

For now, the limited package expected on the floor this month will likely allow Democrats to push through a response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill — such as tougher rig safety requirements — and perhaps some energy provisions that members of both parties could support.

The bill will not include a renewable electricity production mandate boosting power sources such as solar and geothermal that are key industries in Reid’s home state of Nevada.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee gave bipartisan support to such a mandate last year. But it is also controversial because Republicans have sought to ensure it includes all nuclear energy production – both existing and future.

The mandate from the Senate panel just includes new nuclear production. Southeastern lawmakers from both parties have also argued that their region does not have the resources to meet a national mandate.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass) – who has helped lead the effort to reach a deal on focusing a carbon-pricing plan on electric utilities – acknowledged Thursday that “the chances of this bill are very tough right now.” He cited “fear” from those who have not signed on to a carbon-pricing measure because of possible rebuke from voters.

“We need to take the fear out of this and empower our colleagues to go out and vote,” Kerry told a town-hall event hosted by Clean Energy Works.

 —Ben Geman contributed to this report

This story was updated at 11:53 a.m.

Source:
http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/110323-reid-to-advance-limited-oil-spill-and-energy-bill-delaying-climate-action

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