Foreign Policy Blogs

More Energy and Congress

National Petroleum Council Report – Okay, I will admit it: Because this was a report by the National Petroleum Council, from a task force led by ex-Exxon chief and vociferous global warming “skeptic” Lee Raymond, commissioned by a presidential administration that has been famously indifferent, if not hostile, to the environment, I didn’t take much of a look at the news yesterday on this. However, Facing the Hard Truths About Energy appears to have a few important, timely and surprising, given the source, messages. An analysis in the “FT” today says the report highlights that we are in “for a sustained period of tight supply – and that policy needs to start responding to that right now.” The first and foremost recommendation is to go to the “fastest technically possible increase in vehicle fuel economy standards.” Another recommendation is to build an international framework for reducing GHG emissions. Wow. Is this really the voice of the oil industry? The “FT” quotes Daniel Yergin, the task force Vice-Chairman: “I think it will change the framework of the debate, not just in the US but around the world.” Yergin is the head of Cambridge Energy Associates and the author of an extraordinary history of the oil industry, The Prize. If the NPC is serious, they ought to beat the heads of every member of the House of Representatives with a copy of this report, particularly John Dingell. This report is timely because we are being held up on energy in the House largely because of the MPG problem. Here’s a major American industry , an understatement if you hadn’t noticed , that says we should be “doubling miles per gallon by 2030, saving 3m-5m barrels a day of oil demand.” Yergin also says “The study demonstrates that energy efficiency is a very near-term energy resource, and tapping it is essential to national energy strategy.”

Two Media Notes “The Baltimore Sun” has a clear message for Nancy Pelosi: Bring the fight on MPG to the floor of the House. Go around John Dingell. In A fuelish choice, they say “Ms. Pelosi should bring her leadership persuasion to bear” Meanwhile, the “L.A. Times” took a big stick to Big John yesterday. It begins thus: A million years of compression and heat may someday convert Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) into petroleum, just as it did the other dinosaurs.” Ouch. The editorial centers on Dingell’s cynical offer to introduce carbon tax legislation, admittedly designed to fail, to show that taxes are not going to be embraced by the American people, even if they are to mitigate the climate change crisis.

Center for American Progress – Energy and Congress is at the top of the list today in the daily “Progress Report” from the Center for American Progress. Here’s an excerpt: At least 150 lawmakers have signed onto legislation proposed by Reps. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Todd Platts (R-PA), which would require a combined average of 35 mpg by 2018. While automakers have vigorously opposed these efforts, better fuel standards may be a boon for both them and drivers. “Increasing the average fuel economy of America’s new autos to 35 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2018 would save consumers $61 billion at the gas pump and increase U.S. employment by 241,000 jobs in the year 2020, including 23,900 in the auto industry,’ according to a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists, as stricter fuel economy would force large automakers to invest in new, cleaner technologies and machinery.

Stay tuned.



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