The Week Ahead: $1 Billion Climate Fund to Be Included in White House Budget Request


A $1 billion package to help communities prepare for the impacts of climate change, as exemplified by severe weather events, is expected to be included in President Barack Obama's Fiscal 2015 budget request to be submitted to Congress March 4.

As detailed in a Feb. 25 Energy and Climate Report article, John Holdren, head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said increasingly severe storm events and drought, makes the billion dollar package "a bargain." Holdren said 11 weather or climate events in 2012 killed 377 people and caused $110 billion in damages, $65 billion of that just from Hurricane Sandy.

In other budget news, it remains uncertain if a proposal to make the renewable energy production tax credit permanent and refundable will be included in the Fiscal 2015 budget request.

As detailed in a Feb. 25 article, making the production tax credit permanent and refundable is estimated to cost $17.4 billion over a 10-year period.

House to Consider Power Plant Bill

The House is expected to consider legislation the week of March 3 that would limit the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to complete greenhouse gas emission regulations for power plants.

As covered in a Feb. 28 article, House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the chamber will consider the Electricity Security and Affordability Act (H.R. 3826), sponsored by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), “to protect electric utility plants from excessive and burdensome—overly burdensome—EPA regulation.”

The legislation would prevent the agency from moving forward with new source performance standards for future power plants until carbon capture and sequestration—the technological basis for the regulation—had been demonstrated at six different sites for at least one year. Additional regulation of existing power plants couldn't proceed until Congress specifically allowed them.

House Expected to Vote on Efficiency Legislation

Legislation that aims to increase the energy efficiency of commercial buildings leased to tenants is scheduled to be considered on the House floor the week of March 3.

The Better Buildings Act (H.R. 2126), as detailed in a Feb. 28 article, which was introduced by Reps. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.), would direct the EPA to establish a Tenant Star program, similar to the existing Energy Star energy efficiency labeling program, to promote efficiency in spaces occupied by tenants.

The legislation is expected to be considered by the House under an expedited procedure known as suspension of the rules, which requires a two-thirds majority vote for passage.

RGGI to Hold Auction 

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative will hold its next quarterly carbon dioxide emission allowance auction March 5.

As covered in a Feb. 24 article, a RGGI report found that to date, auctions have resulted in lifetime energy savings of $2 billion for residential and commercial customers in the nine-state region that includes Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

RGGI auctions from 2009 through 2012 raised $984 million, $707 million of which was spent on energy efficiency, clean and renewable energy, greenhouse gas abatement and direct assistance, according to RGGI.

Federal Agency Webinars on Agenda

The Environmental Protection Agency will hold a webinar March 6 on "Greenhouse Gas Management Resources for Small Businesses."

On March 5, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's will host a webinar on "Attribution of Extreme Weather," which will feature climate change scientists, among other experts. 

The Department of Transportation's Research Board will hold a webinar March 6 on "DOT Climate Change Adaptation and Local Resilience CoordinationAn Operations Experience."

Other Climate, Energy Events

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy is scheduled to give a presentation March 4 at the National Press Club in Washington on "State, Regional and Company Approaches to Reduce Power Sector Greenhouse Gas Emissions."

On March 6, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute will hold a briefing in Washington on "The Supreme Court and EPA Carbon Rules." Speakers include Michael B. Gerrard, professor at Columbia Law School and director of the Columbia Center for Climate Change Law, and Amanda Leiter, associate professor at the American University Washington College of Law.

On March 5, the group Proxy Preview will hold a webinar on environmental, social, and sustainable governance shareholder resolutions filed this year. The webinar will feature the release of the "2014 Proxy Preview 10th Anniversary Edition."