The Week Ahead: The Spotlight Turns to South America with Rio+20 and the G-20 Summit


Sustainable development is the theme this week in Rio de Janeiro, as world leaders, NGOs, and private sector representatives gather Wednesday through Friday for the 20th anniversary of the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development, or Earth Summit. 

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he hopes the Rio+20 summit will result in agreement on a text that provides a clear path to advance economic development, expands access to electricity, and increases environmental protection.

A conference that yields a road map for future action would be considered a success, according to many organizers.

Brice Lalonde, an executive coordinator of Rio+20, told BNA that "quantifiable SDG [sustainable development goal] targets and time frames for reaching them will be set after the summit. A three-day conference is too little time to tackle such a task, one which involves reaching worldwide consensus among member states."

Earlier in the week, South America also plays host to the G-20 Summit. The concept of "green economies" is expected to be on teh agenda during the summit of industrialized and emerging economies, held in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, June 18-19.

House to Hold Hearing on Regulation of Greenhouse Gases

Also on the 19th, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a hearing on proposed new source performance standard issued by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants.

The hearing, "A Focus on EPA's Greenhouse Gas Regulations," is part of the the House Republicans' broader energy plan, dubbed the American Energy Initiative.

A March 27 article provides details of EPA's proposed NSPS.

Cantor to Advance Energy Production Bills

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) could move a series of Republican energy bills to the floor this week. The legislation would encourage oil and natural gas production and expedite permitting of energy projects on federal lands.

As detailed in a May 25 article, the bills, H.R. 4381, H.R. 4382, and H.R. 4383, were moved last month through the House Natural Resources Committee.

Energy Production and Earthquakes?

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing June 19 on the potential for induced seismicity from energy technologies, including carbon capture and storage, enhanced geothermal systems, production from gas shales, and enhanced oil recovery.

The U.S. Geological Survey attributed a series of earthquakes in Ohio to the injection of wastewater in shale to enhance oil and gas production.

Obama Administration Official to Give Keynote Addresses

Heather Zichal, deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate, will give a keynote address June 19 to the Washington, D.C., Fuel Cell Summit.

As detailed in a Feb. 13 article, President Obama's 2013 budget request would provide an additional $5 billion in tax credits to manufacturers of a wide range of advanced energy projects, including fuel cells.

On June 21, Zichal is scheduled to be the guest speaker at a Natural Gas Roundtable discussion in Washington, D.C., on "Natural Gas, the Environment, and Economy—View from the Obama Administration."

As detailed in a March 27 article covering EPA's proposed NSPS, power plants are expected to increasingly switch from burning coal to natural gas.