The Week Ahead: Obama to Give Speech During DOE Visit, House to Hold Energy Hearings, International Developments on the Climate Agenda


 President Obama is expected to make the first climate and energy speech of his second term March 15 during a visit to the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago.

 As detailed in a March 8 article, while administration officials would not discuss specifics of the upcoming speech, the president has said he will pursue administrative initiatives if Congress fails to move on legislation to address the threat of global climate change.

House Hearings on Agenda

 On March 14, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will hold an oversight hearing on “America’s Onshore Energy Resources: Creating Jobs, Securing America, and Lowering Prices.”

The hearing comes on the heels of a subcommittee hearing held March 5 on the development of offshore energy resources. In opening remarks, Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) accused the Obama administration of trying to use across-the-board federal spending cuts, which went into effect March 1, as an excuse to block U.S. energy production, especially in offshore areas and on federal lands.

As detailed in a March 4 Energy and Climate Reportarticle, under current federal budget cuts, also referred to as sequestration, the Energy Department will be required to reduce its budget by nearly $1.9 billion.

“The cuts required by sequestration will be deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments, and core government functions,” Jeffrey D. Zients, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in a report to Congress on the sequestration.

According to the Interior Department, nearly 300 onshore oil and gas leases issued for public land in Western states could be threatened under the budget cuts, delaying prospective production and deferring payments to the states and the U.S. Treasury. 

Other House Hearings on Energy

Assessing the costs and benefits of financial support for energy technologies will be the subject of a hearing March 13 by the House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Energy.

On March 14, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies will hold a hearing on funding for the Department of Energy. Scheduled DOE witnesses include David Danielson, assistant secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy; Pete Lyons, assistant secretary for Nuclear Energy; and Christopher Smith, acting assistant secretary for Fossil Energy.

U.N. Green Climate Fund Board to Meet

Board members of the United Nations' Green Climate Fund will meet March 12-15 in Berlin.

The Green Climate Fund was established in December 2010 under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to provide financing to developing countries to help them mitigate and adapt to climate change.

As covered in an Oct. 22, 2012, article, the board, which is composed of 24 members, is expected to address the business model framework for the fund, including its structure and organization, the private sector "facility" that will enable the fund to finance private sector mitigation and adaptation activities, and modalities providing access to resources through sub-national, national, regional, and international implementing entities.

The South Korean city of Songdo hosts the Green Climate Fund's permanent headquarters.

World Bank to Host Meeting

China, Chile, Costa Rica, and Mexico will present final road maps for deployment of market-based tools to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a meeting March 11-13 in Washington, D.C., convened by the World Bank.

Presentation at the meeting, as covered in a March 7 article, will be used to determine funding allocations through the bank's Partnership for Market Readiness, which provides grants and technical assistance to support the development of market instruments to cut emissions.

International Meeting on Drought

The World Meteorological Organization, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, and other U.N. agencies will hold a high-level meeting March 11-15 in Geneva to address national drought policies.

As detailed in an Aug. 22, 2012, article, the United Nations is urging countries to establish stronger national polices to deal with drought, saying virtually no countries have policies in place to address drought risk.

WTO Hearing to Be Held

The World Trade Organization's Appellate Body will hold a hearing March 14-15 over a complaint filed by the European Union and Japan against the Canadian province of Ontario's green energy program.

As detailed in a Feb. 25 article,the complaint alleges provisions of Ontario's feed-in tariff (FIT) program requiring a minimum domestic content in renewable power projects violate WTO rules by affording less favorable treatment status to imported renewable energy equipment.  

Other Climate, Energy Events

The National Academies will hold a meeting March 11- 12 in Washington, D.C., on "Understanding and Monitoring Abrupt Climate Change and Its Impacts."

On March 13, the Wilson Center and the China Environment Forum will host an event in Washington, D.C., on "China's Climate Change Challenge." The event will feature Jennifer L. Turner, director of the China Environment Forum, and Xuedu Lu, an advisor on climate change for the Asian Development Bank.

The Wilson Center also will host an eventMarch 15 in Washington, D.C., on "Shale Gas Revolution in China: Game Changer for Coal?" Speakers include Xizhou Zhou, head of IHS CERA's China Energy Practice, and Briana Mordick, staff scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The American Security Project (ASP) will hold an event March 13 in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C., on "Fusion Power: A 10-Year Plan to Energy Security." Lee Gunn, Navy Vice Admiral (ret.) and president of the Institute for Public Research at the Center for Naval Analyses; Stewart Prager, director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory; and Steven Cheney, Marine Corps Brigadier General (ret.) and ASP CEO; are the featured speakers.