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U.S. Position on Global Warming

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  • Mike Neuman
    Click here to read this story online: http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/1210/p02s01-usgn.html Headline: US energy proposal pushes toward center Byline: Brad
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 16, 2004
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      Click here to read this story online:
      http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/1210/p02s01-usgn.html

      Headline: US energy proposal pushes toward center
      Byline: Brad Knickerbocker Staff writer of The Christian Science
      Monitor
      Date: 12/10/2004

      The effort to craft a comprehensive national energy strategy got a
      significant nudge this week. After two year's work, the nonpartisan
      National Commission on Energy Policy, a panel funded by several
      foundations, issued what's likely to be an influential report
      addressing all aspects of energy policy: supply, national security,
      environmental impact, and diplomacy.

      Recommendations are laced with incentives as well as regulations that
      in total are unlikely to completely please anyone - smokestack
      apologist or solar-powered activist. Still, the commission's
      middle-of-the-road approach could stimulate movement on the national
      energy policy, which has stalled over things such as global warming
      and
      drilling for oil in Alaska.

      Among the major recommendations:

      * "Significantly strengthening" vehicle fuel-economy standards while
      providing $3 billion in consumer and manufacturing incentives to
      build
      and buy hybrid and advanced diesel cars and trucks.

      * Applying diplomatic pressure to encourage nations with
      underdeveloped
      oil reserves to allow foreign investment while also easing US
      economic
      sanctions that currently prevent such investment.

      * Beginning in 2010, institute a mandatory "cap and trade" program on
      greenhouse-gas emissions that would reduce such emissions 2.4 percent
      a
      year. This rate of reduction is 50 percent more than the Bush
      administration proposes in its voluntary program.

      * Build an Alaska natural gas pipeline.

      * Invest $4 billion over the next 10 years in advanced coal
      technologies.

      * Provide $2 billion over the next 10 years to research and develop
      one
      or two advanced nuclear power plants.

      * Increase federal support for renewable energy technology by $360
      million a year.

      It's a plan designed to be both ambitious in scope and politically
      realistic. Seated around the discussion table were advocates for
      business, labor, consumers, and the environment.

      The commission - prompted by 9/ 11, the California energy crisis, and
      rising global energy expenditures - was formed early in 2002 by
      independent foundations to address growing concerns about shared
      resources. Among the 16 commission members are former EPA
      administrator
      William Reilly, United Steel Workers president Leo Gerard, Sharon
      Nelson of the Consumers Union, Ford Motor Company vice president
      Martin
      Zimmerman, former CIA chief James Woolsey, and Ralph Cavanaugh of the
      Natural Resources Defense Council. The contrast with Vice President
      Dick Cheney's closed-door task force, generally thought to be
      industry-heavy, was obvious.

      While the overall energy package would cost some $36 billion over 10
      years, it is designed to be revenue-neutral in that the money would
      be
      raised by selling emission allowances for greenhouse gases.

      On many of the most important recommendations, there is a "prime the
      pump" approach that assumes that technology development - spurred by
      incentives and deadlines - will take off in a way that impels more
      efficiency and less reliance on foreign energy sources, as well as
      eventual reductions in climate-changing emissions.

      "We almost always overestimate what technology can do in the short
      run,
      but underestimate what it can do in the long run," says commission
      co-chair John Holdren, an engineer and physicist who teaches
      environmental policy at Harvard.

      As expected, there are criticisims. The National Association of
      Manufacturers calls the recommendation for mandatory caps on
      greenhouse
      gases "a significant threat to US industrial growth." The group
      prefers
      the Bush administration's voluntary approach to such reductions.

      "The last thing our economy needs right now is a new government
      mandate
      that will raise energy prices even higher," says NAM vice president
      Mark Whitenton.

      But the context for this week's energy policy report includes
      political
      activity and public pressure that moves well beyond what the White
      House and much of the business community want in terms of government
      control.

      Under the bipartisan "Climate Stewardship Act," authored by Sens.
      John
      McCain (R) of Arizona and Joseph Lieberman (D) of Connecticut, all
      major sectors of the economy would be required to return greenhouse-
      gas
      pollution limits to year 2000 levels by 2010.

      California is in a court fight with auto manufacturers, which filed
      suit this week seeking to halt the state's new program curbing
      vehicle
      emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Seven other
      states are moving in that direction as well. Eight states have filed
      a
      "public nuisance" lawsuit against the country's five largest power
      companies for the 652 million tons of carbon dioxide (the principal
      greenhouse gas) emitted annually.

      One of the major criticisms of the Kyoto Treaty on global warming has
      been that it does not include developing countries such as China and
      India, whose burgeoning economies could account for increasing
      amounts
      of climate-changing gases. Members of the National Commission on
      Energy
      Policy take account of that possibility by recommending a review in
      2015 of US actions to reduce emissions in light of what such
      countries
      have accomplished.

      Having spent considerable time with officials and scientists in China
      and India, commission cochair John Holdren predicts those countries
      will be working to reduce their emissions as well, particularly as
      the
      technology to do so becomes more developed and available. "I think in
      2015 they'll all be on board," says Dr. Holdren.


      ====================================================================

      Click here to read this story online:
      http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/1216/p08s02-comv.html

      Headline: Middle Path on Energy
      Byline:
      Date: 12/16/2004

      One of President Bush's first-term goals was a new national energy
      policy. But it bogged down over such controversies as drilling for
      oil
      in Alaska's National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), Vice President Cheney's
      industry-heavy task force, and a gasoline additive.

      While Washington wrangled, top US foundations funded the bipartisan
      National Commission on Energy Policy. Staffed by a diverse group of
      energy stakeholders, the private panel last week issued balanced
      recommendations that take on "cherished myths from both right and
      left," as put by John Rowe, commission cochair and CEO of utility
      Exelon Corp.

      The group recognized, for instance, a "misplaced focus on energy
      independence." The US will depend on fossil fuels for decades. On the
      supply side, it suggested encouraging oil production in nations with
      underdeveloped reserves, and building an Alaska natural gas pipeline.
      On the demand side, it called for strengthening federal fuel economy
      standards, and incentives for making and buying hybrids and advanced
      diesel vehicles.

      But it also emphasized cleaner and alternative energy - investment in
      advanced coal and nuclear technology, for example, and in renewable
      energy.

      The price for this $36 billion, 10-year program could be paid for by
      tradable permits from mandatory reductions on greenhouse gas
      emissions.
      The cost of those cutbacks would be capped - a compromise with
      industry.

      The commission left ANWR alone and couldn't agree on specific fuel
      efficiency standards. But its middle-of-the-road approach is a
      template
      for an urgently needed energy policy that the new Congress must
      consider.
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