Climate Capsule: Riding the Budget Wave

Hello Capsule readers!

In addition to the wind, rain, and cherry blossom pollen, there’s tension in the air this week as questions abound. Will certain Congressmen keep trying to attach riders that destroy our environmental protections to the budget bill? Are those in favor of the Dirty Air Act trying to “lose the future”? Will the government shut down? I know I’m in suspense.

Thanks for reading!


This week’s stories:

  1. Highlight of the Week: Growing Momentum for a “Clean” Continuing Resolution
  2. Quote: Larry Schweiger on the Clean Air Act
  3. Economic Story of the Week: High-rollers back EPA on GHGs
  4. Editorial of the Week: No to a New Tar Sands Pipeline
  5. Senators Stand up for Clean Air Act
  6. Fighting The Good Fight Against Dirty Energy
  7. Happening this Week

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Highlight of the Week

Growing Momentum for a “Clean” Continuing Resolution

The House, Senate and White House are still racing to reach an agreement on a six-month spending plan to avoid a government shutdown, with a deadline of April 8th, when the current interim measure will expire.

The budget bill has been loaded up with riders that have nothing to do with fiscal discipline, but instead are trying to limit the power of the EPA and shed decades of bipartisan support for our most basic clean water and clean air protections.

Belinda Serata/NWF

“Voters didn’t go to the polls last year worried that our air is too clean or our water too safe to drink,” said NWF Senior Vice President of Conservation and Education Jeremy Symons. To the contrary, a recent poll confirms that 77 percent of Americans, including 61 percent of Republicans, believe that “Congress should let the EPA do its job.”

The White House stated their opposition to environmental riders in the budget bill. “As the administration has made clear, the funding bill should not be used to further unrelated policy agendas, and we remain opposed to riders that do that, including as it relates to the environment,” said Clark Stevens, a White House spokesman.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) told reporters that Senate Democrats won’t “accept any of the EPA riders they have in their bill.”

On NBC’s “Meet the Press” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called the EPA riders “totally unacceptable. The idea that we are going to close down the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to keep our air clean and our water pure, I mean, that sort of thing is irresponsible.”

NWF has been working hard to have all environmental riders removed, as well as maintain sensible investments for conservation programs.

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Larry Schweiger

“Our nation’s bedrock environmental laws are under attack by oil companies. President Obama needs to stand with the American people against big polluters who put toxins in the air we breathe and the water we drink. We won’t have a clean energy future if he bows to polluters’ dirty air agenda. For the sake of our children, don’t let Big Oil hijack the budget debate, and don’t rollback the Clean Air Act to put a Band-Aid on a broken budget process.”

-Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation on House budget deals that threaten the Clean Air Act.

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Economic Story of the Week

High-rollers back EPA on GHGs

A group of 44 international investors with $546 billion in assets under management have urged the US Senate to back EPA regulation of greenhouse gases. In their letter they warned that the US is falling behind Germany and China in developing a “new energy economy.”

Signatories include US-based socially responsible investors such as Calvert Asset Management, Domini Social Investments, Christian Brothers Investment Services, Trillium Asset Management, Walden Asset Management, and many more. The group states, “As investors we prefer long-term certainty on energy and climate policy to be able to predict investment risks and opportunities.”

In addition to defending EPA, investors are encouraging Senate leaders to pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation that allows the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions to avoid both the consequences of extreme weather events and the costs of adapting to the physical impacts of climate change.

More on this story…

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Editorial of the Week

No to a New Tar Sands Pipeline

(New York Times)

Later this year, the State Department will decide whether to approve construction of a 1,700-mile oil pipeline from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast called Keystone XL…The department should say no. The environmental risks, for both countries, are enormous…The [pipeline]would cross the Ogallala Aquifer, a shallow underground reservoir of enormous importance for agriculture that also provides drinking water for two million people. A pipeline leaking diluted bitumen into groundwater could have disastrous consequences….Moving ahead would be a huge error. From all of the evidence, Keystone XL is not only environmentally risky, it is unnecessary.

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Senators Stand up for Clean Air Act

As a House vote on the ‘Dirty Air Act’ (H.R. 910), an attempt to weaken the nation’s clean air protections, looms large, a group of senators stood up to show their united support for a strong Clean Air Act. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), John Kerry (D-Mass.) and 30 of their colleagues introduced a resolution calling for continued implementation of the Clean Air Act, (S.RES.119).

The bedrock protections for our clean air and water are under attack in both houses. The Senate is expected to vote soon on up to four amendments attached to the Small Business reauthorization bill that would roll-back the EPA’s authority to reduce carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act, while the House is pushing anti-environmental riders attached to their budget bill.

“It is absolutely unconscionable that in the year 2011 Congress is debating riders to gut the Clean Air Act, and I am going to fight back,” said Senator Sanders. “At a time when House Republicans might force a government shutdown unless the EPA backs down from protecting public health, we must not let the budget process be used to deregulate polluters.”

The resolution recognizes the past, present and future public health and economic benefits of clean air that the US has experienced thanks to the successful implementation of the Clean Air Act.

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Fighting The Good Fight Against Dirty Energy

The National Wildlife Federation took new steps this week in the continuing fight to protect local citizens and the environment from expansion of potentially harmful dirty energy industries. NWF, along with Missoula County, the Montana Environmental Information Center and the Montana Chapter of the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit in Montana District Court to protect Montana’s citizens, economy and ecosystems from Exxon/Mobil’s mega-load transport project.

The plaintiffs seek a full environmental impact statement on the project that seeks to drive more than 200 mega-sized loads across Montana’s highways to the tar sands in Alberta, Canada.

Sarah McMillan, attorney with the Western Law Environmental Center argued: “The agency’s [initial] review of the project failed to take a hard look at all the impacts of the construction and use of an industrial corridor that runs along some of Montana’s most treasured rivers and streams, and through our scenic mountains and rural Montana.”

The plaintiffs claim this project should be evaluated regarding its intended facilitation of carbon intensive tar sands mining and consequent heavy-crude oil production which contributes profoundly to the impacts of climate change in Montana and worldwide.

NWF Senior Vice President Jeremy Symons testified on the potential impacts of tar sands mining at a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearing on foreign oil and the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline project.[youtube][/youtube]

Symons explained that Canadian tar sludge is wreaking obvious environmental havoc on the local ecosystem. He added that, “Expanding our reliance on expensive Canadian oil offers nothing more than a mirage of energy security. The best path to energy security is innovation in our transportation and fuels sectors that will create jobs and provide Americans a healthier, cleaner and more secure energy future.”

More on this story: NWF Media Center

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Happening this Week

Wednesday, April 6

Hydropower in America: Energy Generation and Jobs Potential, Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), 2322 Rayburn House Office Building, 3:00 – 4:30 PM

Thursday, April 7

Hearings to examine Department of Energy biofuel programs and infrastructure issues, including S.187. Energy and Natural Resources, 9:30 am SD-366

“Electric Transmission 101: How the High-Voltage Grid Works and Who Regulates It,” Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and WIRES (Working group for Investment in Reliable and Economic electric Systems), 2325 Rayburn House Office Building, 10:00 – 11:30 AM


House Vote on the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 (H.R. 910) – aka ‘Dirty Air Act’
Senate Vote on Clean Air Act amendments to Small Business bill

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