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Govt. Routinely Misses Energy Deadlines

H. Josef Hebert, Associated Press
The government has missed all 34 deadlines set by Congress for requiring energy efficiency standards on everything from home appliances to power transformers, government auditors said Thursday.

Two-thirds of the deadlines have yet to be met, although many of them are more than a decade old.

Because of the failures, consumers and corporations stand to pay tens of billions of dollars more for energy than they would have if the deadlines had been met, the Government Accountability Office said.

It’s “a blistering indictment of a culture of incompetence and delay,” said Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., who had a hand in crafting many of the efficiency requirements Congress has enacted over the years.

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., who made the report public at a news conference, said the delays covered many years and that he did not mean to single out the Bush administration. Some of the deadlines date back to the 1990s.

Still, many of the appliance and other equipment standards have been in limbo since 2001 after a rush of regulations in the closing weeks of the Clinton administration, energy efficiency advocates said.
(1 March 2007)
For more, see the GAO’s: 1) full report (PDF). 2) Abstract and 3)Highlights (PDF). Hat tip to David Roberts.

Congressional hearing actually makes progress on energy
Rep. Bartlett is “Mr. Peak Oil”

(Original: “Switchgrass is cool, dude” )
Andrew Leonard, How the World Works (Slate)

…a Wednesday congressional hearing on energy research and development… a hearing that ranged far and wide in its discussion of energy issues in the U.S.

…if there was a consensus on anything at the hearing, in which testimony was heard on prospects for nuclear, solar, geothermal and wind power, along with biofuels, it was that federal and state governments get by far the most bang for their buck by setting, enforcing and encouraging increased energy efficiency. Changing building codes and requiring ever more efficient performance from new machinery is cheap. As one panelist, energy consultant David Nemtzow, observed, if you treated the energy savings from efficiency as an energy source, you would see that “energy efficiency is the number one energy resource in this country, number one ahead of oil, ahead of gas or coal or nuclear or any of the others.”

A second clear imperative to emerge from the hearing was that attacking the nation’s energy problems through a myriad of targeted incentives and state and federal programs was likely to be confusing and wasteful. … the best strategy government could take to address both energy security needs and the challenge of climate change would be to impose some kind of carbon tax, perhaps along the lines of California’s recently enacted Low Carbon Fuel Initiative. Only when the external costs of climate change and fossil fuel dependency become shared by individuals filling up their gas tanks and utility companies building coal-fired power plants will there be a real market incentive to deploy new technologies.

The journey from a subcommittee hearing to federal carbon tax legislation will be a long one, and likely require a different president than the current occupant of the White House, but reading the transcript of this hearing, I felt more positively inclined toward my government than I have in quite some time. … by and large this was an example of how you want your government to work. Engaged politicians addressing reasonably informed questions on how best to spend money on energy development to actual experts.

There was even a titillating little bit about a new report on peak oil that had been completed by the GAO and handed over to Maryland Republican Roscoe Bartlett and to the House Science Committee. The GAO’s Wells said that the report had come to an estimation of what the “consensus” view was on the likely arrival of peak oil, but he frustrated his audience by refusing to tell them exactly what the date was. GAO rules, he said, mandate that the “requesters” of a GAO study get to sit on the information for a maximum of 30 days before the report must be made public.

To which subcommittee member Steve Israel, a Democrat from New York, responded: “I just returned from China with Mr. Bartlett on an energy security congressional delegation meeting. And my sense is that Mr. Bartlett will not let much time go by before he speaks rather loudly about this issue. By the time we were finished, the Chinese government thought his name was peak oil.”
(1 March 2007)

Help needed to draft U.S. energy proposals

Jerome a Paris, Daily Kos
As related by A Siegel in his diary yesterday (ENERGIZE AMERICA — A Brief Update …), several members of the Energize America team provided to the Congressional Office of the senior Congressperson we’ve been in touch with a two-page summary of the Neighborhood Power Act.  The meeting with the member was cancelled for practical reasons (a vote) but there was a lot of interest from the staff and requests for more.

You can help.

See, right now, A Siegel‘s ENERGIZE AMERICA: Neighborhood Power Act — Draft Questions and Answers — plus a request for help

We need simple things:

  • the simplest is to provide feedback and ideas in the diaries that discuss the drafts. All Energize America proposals are built publicly, and discussed in DailyKos diaries – and contributioons from all are welcome – and used, especially if you have any kind of expert knowledge;

  • even if you don’t have any input to provide on a specific act, you can help others in the community do so by giving visibility to these diaries. They are all titled with “Energize America” (and tagged similarly, of course). You can subscribe to the team leaders that bring you the discussion diaries: A Siegel for the Neighborhood Power Act, chapter1 for the Smart Metering Act, Market Trustee for the Home Efficiency Act. You can also join the Daily Kos Environmentalists community / listserve which simply flags energy/environment diaries to its members;
  • if you’d like to do more, there are several other Acts in the original Energize America plan for which we have been asked for draft language. If you’d like to volunteer, or if you know people that might be interested to participate in such an effort, send us a note (A Siegel, devilstower or myself act as de fact coordinators) – the more quality content we can provide, the better the chance that we will be taken seriously and that the full plan stands of chance of actually being implemented.

(2 March 2007)

Nickels warns U.S. Senate to not rein in cities fighting global warming

Charles Pope, Seattle P-I
WASHINGTON — Mayor Greg Nickels told a Senate committee Thursday that state and local governments are leading the fight against global warming, and he warned Congress against reining in local efforts that are under way across the nation.

“We are not just signing a piece of paper,” Nickels told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

“We are making tough choices. We are investing our taxpayers’ money. We are transforming our cities into laboratories for climate protection. In short, we are making a difference, and laying the groundwork for strong federal policies and programs.”

Nickels, who testified along with New Jersey Gov. John Corzine, the Democratic leaders of the California Legislature and other mayors, said the federal government can help by providing money for research and broad guidelines for curbing pollution that causes climate change.

But Nickels and other local officials warned Congress against passing legislation that would undercut aggressive programs in Seattle, New Jersey, California and other areas.
(2 March 2007)
Related story in the SF Chronicle:
Follow state on warming, Congress told:
California legislators want tough new federal limits that don’t dilute local rules

House Democrats unveil new energy plan

Chris Baltimore, Reuters
WASHINGTON – Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday unveiled a bill that would spend about $15 billion to double U.S. automobile fuel efficiency, expand ethanol distribution and build more mass transit.

The so-called “Program for Real Energy Security Act,” to be introduced next week, is the second energy bill Democrats have proposed since taking control of Congress in January.

The House in January passed a bill that would roll back energy industry tax breaks and force companies to pay more drilling royalties, valued at $14 billion over a decade. That bill has not seen action in the Senate yet.

The new bill, backed by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (news, bio, voting record) and about 100 other lawmakers, could form the basis of energy legislation House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to call for a vote before the chamber recesses in August.

The bill would fund research into ways to double U.S. automobile fuel efficiency, focusing on hydrogen, fuel cells, plug-in hybrids and other high-tech ideas. It would give grants to build more public transit and commuter rail systems, Hoyer said.
(1 March 2007)
Related: Senators call for ‘crash program’ to develop clean coal technologies (SNL).