The Week Ahead: Senate Democrats to Sharpen Focus on Climate Change While House Republicans Seek to Stop Carbon Regulation


Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy will testify Jan. 16 before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on the agency's efforts to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and implement other policy initiatives to carry out President Barack Obama's climate change action plan.

As detailed in a Jan. 7 Energy and Climate Reportarticle, the EPA published a proposed rule under the Clean Air Act to limit carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants that, if made final, would trigger a requirement for the agency to issue guidelines for states to regulate emissions from existing plants.

The hearing comes on the heels of an announcement, covered in a Jan. 9 article, of a new Senate climate task force that Democrats will formally launch Jan. 14 in an effort to revive climate change legislation. While such legislation has little chance of passage by a Republican-controlled House, a senior Senate aide said the task force is a way for Democrats to keep climate change in the forefront and fight back Republican attempts to block Obama's executive authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

In the House, legislation (H.R. 3826)  to limit the EPA's ability to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants will be marked up Jan. 14 by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power. Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), whose remarks are covered in a Jan. 9 article, said, "We're going to get it to the floor quickly." 

Energy, Water Spending Bill

The omnibus spending package, which is needed to fund the federal government, is expected to be completed by Congress sometime the week of Jan. 13. The package includes an energy and water appropriations measure along with 11 other bills that  add up to $1.012 trillion of discretionary spending.

As detailed in a Jan. 7 article, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who heads the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water, declined to provide a dollar figure for the energy and water appropriations bill, which funds the Energy Department and other agencies. Last year's fiscal 2014 version totaled $34.8 billion.

DOE to Hold Hearing on Light Bulbs

The Department of Energy will hold a public hearing Jan. 14 on new or amended post-2020 energy conservation standards for most light bulbs in the residential sector.

A Dec. 6 article covers the standards under consideration that are expected to determine the mix of light bulbs in the market after 2020. DOE already sets energy conservation standards for certain types of light bulbs, but the post-2020 standards will apply to "general service" light bulbs more broadly. General service light bulbs include incandescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent light bulbs, light-emitting diode (LED) light bulbs and other types of light bulbs commonly found in homes.

RGGI Prepares for Next Auction

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative will hold a "Bidder Information Session" webinar Jan. 15 to provide an overview of bidding procedures for its next carbon dioxide allowance auction to be held March 5.

As detailed in a Dec. 18 article, RGGI states implemented a model rule in 2013 that includes a 45 percent reduction in the regional cap on carbon dioxide emissions. The nine states participating in RGGI are New York, Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. 

New York Utility Agreement Subject to Hearing

The New York Public Service Commission will hold a hearing Jan. 14 in New York on a proposed rate-setting agreement with Consolidated Edison Co. that would require the utility to spend $1 billion over four years for storm hardening and resiliency projects to prepare for severe weather.

As covered in a Jan. 2 article, the agreement also contains provisions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including the expansion of a program to convert more customers from oil to natural gas.

Con Edison, in a statement, said it was pleased with the agreement, adding that it will allow the company to proceed with investments to bolster protections for the next major storm.

European Parliament to Vote on Tailpipe Limits

During its plenary session Jan. 14-17 in Strasbourg, France, the full European Parliament is scheduled to vote on a carbon dioxide emissions limit for light vans of 147 grams per kilometer (g/km, or 237 grams per mile) on average starting in 2020.

As detailed in a Nov. 5 article, carbon dioxide emissions from vans sold in the European Union stood at 180.3 g/km in 2012 , meaning vanmakers will be required to cut their average emissions through 2020 by 18.5 percent.

Other Climate, Energy Events

The EPA's Green Power Partnership program will hold a webinar Jan 15 on "Gaining a Green Marketing Advantage: Data-Driven Insights Into Today's Green Consumer." Speakers include Blain Collison, the partnership's program director, and Suzanne Shelton, president and CEO of the Shelton Group.

On Jan. 16, the United States Energy Association will hold its "10th Annual State of the Energy Industry Forum" at the National Press Club in Washington. Speakers include Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute; Dave McCurdy, president and CEO of the American Gas Association; Hal Quinn, president and CEO of the National Mining Association; and Marvin Fertel, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute.

"Unlocking the Low-Carbon Economy" will be the theme for Ceres' 2014 Investor Summit on Climate Riskto be held Jan. 15 in New York. According to Ceres, a sustainable investment group,  "The world needs to invest an average of $1 trillion per year in clean energy for the next 36 years to avoid climate catastrophe."

Bloomberg BNA Webinar

On Jan. 14, Bloomberg BNA will hold a webinar on "Developments in SEC Environmental Reporting: From Liability to Sustainability."