The Week Ahead: President to Attend North American Summit; Energy on Agenda While Decision on Keystone Awaits Action


President Barack Obama will travel to Toluca, Mexico, Feb. 19 to meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to discuss trade, security, investment and energy issues during the North American Leadership Summit.

In a meeting with foreign ministers to prepare for the summit, as covered in a Jan. 17 Energy and Climate Report article, Secretary of State John Kerry said taking advantage of the vast energy resources in North American must be done in ways that are "environmentally sustainable and responsible." Kerry met with Mexican Foreign Secretary Jose Antonio Meade and Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird.

At the time, Kerry declined to set a timetable for making a decision on a presidential permit for the Keystone XL project. The permit would allow construction of the pipeline's northern segment that would carry crude oil from Alberta's oil sands to Steele City, Neb.

However, since the meeting, as detailed in a Feb. 3 article, the State Department issued a final environmental review for the pipeline, which found it would have a minimal impact on climate change, raising hopes by Keystone supporters that the pipeline will be approved. The public comment on the final review ends March 7.

In other White House developments, Mike Boots will become acting chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality Feb. 18. As covered in a Feb. 6 article, he was selected to replace former chairman Nancy Sutley, who announced in December that she would be stepping down.

Boots, who formerly was CEQ chief of staff, will step into his role as the White House continues to bolster its team on climate change. Recent additions to the White House with the potential to influence climate policy include John Podesta, a senior adviser for domestic issues, including energy and climate policy; Katie Beirne Fallon, deputy communications director for the White House; and Phil Schiliro, an aide to Obama. 

Federal Climate Committee to Meet

The National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee will meet Feb. 20-21 in Washington. The federal advisory committee is developing the "National Climate Assessment," which outlines current climate change science, potential impacts and response strategies. The assessment is scheduled to be released in April.

A national assessment on climate science and climate change impacts is due to Congress every four years under the Global Change Research Act of 1990. However, only two reports have been completed since the law passed, one in 2000 and the other in 2009.

CARB to Be Presented Climate Plan

During its Feb. 20 meeting in Sacramento, members of the California Air Resources Board will be presented with a new round of climate and clean air policies designed to continue driving down greenhouse gas emissions from all major industrial sectors beyond 2020.

As detailed in a Feb. 11 article, a draft document was released by CARB, which marks the agency's first effort to update its initial blueprint for implementing the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (A.B. 32), which the agency adopted in 2008.

A.B. 32 includes a mandate to cut statewide carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The law also requires CARB to revisit its climate strategy, called a "scoping plan,"’ for achieving the emissions reductions target every five years.

Energy Secretary to Speak at National Press Club

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz is scheduled to give a speech Feb. 19 at the National Press Club in Washington. He is expected to address issues posed by unprecedented domestic supplies of energy and a push by industry to allow more supplies to be exported.

For example, as covered in a Jan. 7 article, some members of Congress and industry groups are urging Obama to end a 39-year ban on exports of U.S. crude oil.

Other Climate, Energy Events

On Feb. 19, the  Johns Hopkins School of Adanced International Studies (SAIS) will host an event in Washington on the "BP Energy 2035 Outlook." Speakers include Mark Finley, general manager of global energy markets and U.S. economist at BP and Wil Kohl, founding director and senior adviser of the Energy, Resources and Enviroment Program at SAIS.

George Washington University's Stimson Center will hold an event Feb. 18 on "Hacking the Climate: Political and Ethical Issues with Geo-Engineering." Elizabeth Chalecki, visiting research fellow at the center, will discuss the scientific principles, political and economic issues and ethical concerns surrounding geo-engineering technologies, such as those that would block sunlight from reaching the Earth and others that would remove carbon from the air.

On Feb. 20, the Environmental Law Institute will hold a debate in Washington on "Resolved: EPA and States Can Regulate Emissions Outside the Facility Fenceline under Clean Air Act Section 111." According to the institute, whether the Environmental Protection Agency and states can regulate emissions outside the facility fenceline is a critical factor in shaping the regulatory response to climate change under the Clean Air Act. 

Speakers include Megan Ceronsky, an attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund; David Doniger, policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council's Climate & Clean Air Program; Jeffrey R. Holmstead, director of the Environmental Strategies Group at Bracewell & Giuliani; and Scott H. Segal, director of the Policy Resolution Group at Bracewell & Giuliani.

The Wilson Center will host an event Feb. 19 in Washington on "Moving Beyond Coal: Shifting China onto a Path Toward 100% Renewable Electricity. Speakers include Lunyan Lu, climate and energy program director for China at the World Wildlife Fund; William Chandler, research director for the Energy Transition Research Institute; Wenqian Tang, executive vice secretary-general for the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association; and Ethan Zindler, global head of policy analysis for Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The Georgetown Climate Center will host an event Feb. 19 in Washington on "The Politics of Climate Change." Speakers include Merribel S. Ayres, president of the Lighthouse Consulting Group; Christina DeConcini, director of government affairs for the World Resources Institute; and Manik Roy, vice president for strategic outreach at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.


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