Foreign Policy Blogs

House of Representatives

We looked at the Senate energy legislation from June 15 to 22. (See various posts below.) Now the ball is very much in the court of the House. Yesterday, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, led a press conference of leading Democratic committee chairs to “Announce America’s “Energy Independence Day’ Legislation.”  Frankly, the package, as it now stands, is a lot thinner than what we might’ve hoped for based on some of the earlier rhetoric from Pelosi and other leaders in the House. The “Washington Post” in House Democrats at Odds Over Energy Bill Provisions talks about why the sights have been lowered. This package does have tougher efficiency standards for appliances, new buildings and lighting, and promotes incentives for a “smart grid” that would help residential and industrial customers use electricity more efficiently. (I’ve written about this here under the theme of distributed generation. See this from May.)

John Dingell, a most powerful and feared Democratic committee chairman (and I’ve referenced him and his history several times in these posts) took part in the press conference yesterday. Here are his comments on the Committee On Energy And Commerce Markup On Energy Policy Legislation. Unfortunately, he’s more than willing to lay important questions, such as the Renewable Portfolio Standard and the MPG question aside. Dingell said: We are proceeding on legislation where there is a consensus. We have left issues such as motor vehicle fuel economy, coal-to-liquids, and a renewable portfolio standard out of the base text.” Dingell says he wants to wait until the fall and a comprehensive bill devoted to climate change to address these issues. Go back to the “Washington Post,” though, for more information on the House top leadership’s hopes to get MPG upgrades into draft legislation. Pelosi Still Wants More Miles Per Gallon is the headline and in it we learn that “Pelosi said she and Dingell, who opposes tough economy standards for the auto industry, were “in conversation’ about how to handle the issue.” I noted last week that although the full Senate failed to adopt the Finance Committee’s excellent package of tax breaks and funding for renewables and improved energy efficiency, to be funded largely by the rescission of breaks for the oil and gas industry, the House Ways & Means Committee had approved a more modest package, H.R. 2776 , the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2007. The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure also completed work on a great package of initiatives, H.R. 2701 ,the Transportation Energy Security and Climate Change Mitigation Act of 2007. It, among other things, would:

  • Reduce dependence on fossil fuels and mitigate carbon emissions by promoting greater public transit use;

  • Provide additional funding for the use of green technologies by transit systems and railroads;

  • Promote short-sea shipping as an alternative to land-based freight transportation.

So, the battles will intensify after the House reconvenes after the July Fourth recess.

And, in a largely symbolic vote, Reuters reports that Wednesday, as part of an environmental funding bill, the US House Passes Bill Affirming Global Warming Exists. That’s a nice signal from the House, certainly, but more importantly, perhaps, the bill requires “oil companies to renegotiate faulty drilling contracts issued by the government in 1998 and 1999 that have allowed them to avoid paying billions in royalties, or be barred from receiving any new leases to drill for oil in the Gulf of Mexico.” (We’ll see how that holds up in the conference committee. President Bush has already threatened to veto it.)


It’s the Weather, StupidI paraphrase the famous in-house motto from Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign to emphasize the importance of this headline from Reuters: 2007 seen as second warmest year. With floods in Pakistan and a heat wave in Greece, more and more people are becoming aware every day , and concerned , about the deepening intensity of some of the world’s weather patterns. The 10 warmest years in the past 150 years have all been since 1990. Here’s a link to the group that has produced the latest report: Climatic Research Unit at Britain’s University of East Anglia. (There is an excellent store of information here, including some useful graphics.)



Bill Hewitt

Bill Hewitt has been an environmental activist and professional for nearly 25 years. He was deeply involved in the battle to curtail acid rain, and was also a Sierra Club leader in New York City. He spent 11 years in public affairs for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, and worked on environmental issues for two NYC mayoral campaigns and a presidential campaign. He is a writer and editor and is the principal of Hewitt Communications. He has an M.S. in international affairs, has taught political science at Pace University, and has graduate and continuing education classes on climate change, sustainability, and energy and the environment at The Center for Global Affairs at NYU. His book, "A Newer World - Politics, Money, Technology, and What’s Really Being Done to Solve the Climate Crisis," will be out from the University Press of New England in December.

Areas of Focus:
the policy, politics, science and economics of environmental protection, sustainability, energy and climate change