One is a European country known as “the powerhouse of Europe” that struggles against soggy winters and seemingly endless gray skies. The other is a digitally driven American state, known as “the Golden State,” for its abundant sunshine and year-round growing season. One is determined to lead an energy transformation through carefully drafted laws and regulations; the other is driven by an inventive spirit of boundary-pushing and experimentation.
As diplomats here work through the final points of a sweeping new climate change accord, experts said the ultimate measure of success of the agreement will be whether it sends a clear signal to global financial investors that they should move money away from fossil fuels and toward clean-energy sources such as wind and solar power.
Without that signal, there is little chance that emissions will be reduced enough to stave off the most catastrophic impacts of global warming.
Lawmakers and the White House are rushing to finalize a $1.1 trillion government-wide spending bill and a sprawling tax package touching all sectors of the economy. Policy disputes remain as both parties try to attach their priorities to the must-pass spending legislation. Republicans are seeking to lift the oil export ban and roll back various Obama administration regulations, while Democrats are maneuvering to protect President Barack Obama’s environmental rules and enact permanent tax credits for wind, solar and other renewable energy.
The prospects for a deal to repeal the crude exports ban in exchange for long-term extensions of key renewable tax credits also remain up in the air.House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reiterated Democrats’ position that lifting the ban would be a boon for the oil industry. “That crude oil leaves our country, it receives a higher price on the international market, that’s what they’re trying to do,” she told reporters. “What they also want to do is suppress any commitment to any long-term renewables, whether it’s wind and solar. We cannot let that happen.”
With just two days left to reach a deal, negotiators at the world climate talks released a new draft Wednesday that drops the most radical ideas — including an international tribunal to punish polluters — but leaves major issues unresolved, such as who should pay to help the most vulnerable nations cope with global warming. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry challenged diplomats to reach agreement by Friday’s deadline, promising American funding for low-lying island nations and other countries hit hardest by the rising seas and extreme weather that scientists attribute to man-made emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
The morass of litigation engulfing the Obama administration’s signature climate change rule will be the top environmental law issue to watch next year, according to new rankings from Vermont Law School. U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan — a contentious rule requiring power plants to curb their greenhouse gas emissions — is at the center of a massive court battle that is widely expected to drag on for years and ultimately wind up at the Supreme Court. The legal “Super Bowl” surrounding the regulation ranked No. 1 on the law school’s annual top 10 list.
Pennsylvania’s blueprint for reducing its economywide greenhouse gas emissions will likely include a substantial focus on renewable energy and energy efficiency, as evidenced by a draft of the state’s upcoming Climate Change Action Plan. The Pennsylvania Climate Change Act of 2008 requires the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to submit a climate change “Action Plan” to the governor every three years. The 2015 draft was shared with the state Climate Change Advisory Committee at a meeting held last month.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz sought to establish himself as a leading opponent of climate action among Republican presidential hopefuls yesterday as he continued to target conservative voters less than two months before the Iowa caucuses. Cruz, who last month said that Democrats were lying about climate change to advance their policies, lampooned climate scientists, environmentalists and the Obama administration yesterday in a hearing meant to raise doubts about people’s responsibility for climbing temperatures.
The House appears headed for a Friday vote on the short-term continuing spending resolution to keep the federal government open while lawmakers continue to negotiate a long-term deal. Senate and House leaders have yet to say how long the CR will be for. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters today that she expected it to be “very short.” Ongoing talks are focusing on whether the spending bill will also include a measure to extend a slew of tax provisions. Policy riders also continue to jam the process. House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said “several dozen” riders, including a provision targeting U.S. EPA’s Clean Water Act jurisdiction rule, were still part of the negotiations.
oth chambers of Congress are expected to pass a continuing resolution tomorrow to ward off a government shutdown as negotiations over an omnibus spending measure and tax extenders package continue. The House Rules Committee will meet this afternoon to set the terms of debate for the five-day CR, which extends the current stopgap funding measure through Dec. 16. The House will not be in session this weekend.