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Re: [greenyes] Energy Bill and Recycling - Senate Floor Debate
- Subject: Re: [greenyes] Energy Bill and Recycling - Senate Floor Debate
- From: email@example.com
- Date: Thu, 20 Nov 2003 21:45:37 EST
Re: Senate Vote on Energy Bill
1. Status: A vote on final passage of the energy bill could come as early as
Friday morning, unless Senator Schumer has 41 votes against ending debate.
Republican leaders, responding to Senator Daschle, have allowed time for a
significant amount of debate.
Majority Leader Frist has said he will keep the senate in session through the
weekend to get a vote on final passage of the energy and Medicare bills
Schumer says efforts to block a vote on final passage through a filibuter are
"neck-and-neck". Both sides are holding their commitments from senators very
close to the chest.
2. Recycling impacts: Doug Koplow's analysis is, as always, insightful.
While subsidies seem to be the area where recycling is most directly affected,
some of the provisions are more subtle and undermine a wide range of
environmental and resource conservation practices. At this point, the details are less
important than allowing time for closer scrutiny of the bill through ended floor
debate (i.e., a filibuster).
3. Senate Floor Debate: The political situation as of this evening in the
U.S. is that a variety of Democrats and Republicans who oppose the Conference
Report on HR 6, the Energy Policy Act of 2003, plan to continue a floor debate
while scrambling to secure commitments from 41 senators to support the
filibuster proposed by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY).
Support is divided along regional lines, rather than traditional party lines.
At least a half dozen Republicans have either announced opposition to HR 6
(some say they will oppose a "cloture" motion to end debate), have been
publicly critical of the bill (without announcing intentions regarding the filibuster
and a vote on final passage), or have beem laying out the case against the
bill in the Senate Floor debate, including:
- John McCain (AZ) - Called it the "Leave no lobbyist behind bill"; McCain
committed to vote no and to oppose cloture
- Jon Kyl (AZ)
- Susan Collins (ME)
- Judd Gregg (NH)
- John Sununu (NH) - Delivered an excellent critique today in a floor speech
hitting tax subsidies (three times what President Bush requested), focusing on
breaking the budget agreement and on deficit impacts, on subsidies to mature
industries, and on trying to pick winners and losers in the private sector and
among technology choices.
- Arlen Specter (PA)
- Lamar Alexander (TN)
On the Democratic side, the focus of attack by Sen. Schumer the language
regarding the fuel additive MTBE, retroactively limiting liability of manufactuers
to law suits filed before September 5. More than 1,500 communities in 38
states have over 153,000 sites with MTBE contamination Senator Feinstein said
today. Exxon knew about problems in the 1980's, as did U.S. EPA, but the federal
government encouraged development of the fuel additive to meet clean air
objectives while ignoring internal reports about water pollution risks.
Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), the Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and
Natural Resources Committee, has offered the most comprehensive critique of the
bill by opponents during his floor statements and in materials posting on the
committee website (www.energy.senate.gov -- go to main site and scroll to
Democrat news releases).
Senator Minority Leader Tom Daschle (SD) announced yesterday that he will
vote for the bill and oppose the filibuster, so long as there is sufficient time
Senators Lieberman and Kerry oppose HR 6 and oppose cloture (ending debate),
but are traveling and will likely only return if there are sufficient votes to
sustain the filibuster. Gov. Dean is opposed to HR 6.
Some important renewable energy interests now back the bill.
In the waste industry, SWANA is supporting the bill.
There are some very good aspects to the bill, which have been added to
attract support. Overall, according to the Wall Street Journal the bill is too
costly ($135 billion they said according to Taxpayers for Common Sense) and its
effectiveness in assure electricity reliability is questionable.
If you oppose HR 6 and want to know more about the swing votes in the Senate,
please respond directly. I support the filibuster in order to expose this
huge and complex piece of legislation to greater public scrutiny. Sometimes a
little sunlight can change perspectives.
In a message dated 11/20/03 8:12:07 PM Eastern Standard Time,
> Just a heads up that HR6, the Energy Policy Act of 2003 that has just been
> passed by the House, contains a range of provisions likely to harm recycling
> and composting. Though I am still in the process of analyzing the bill, it is
> clear that many wastes that can be recycled will receive tax subsidies of
> 1.8 or 1.2 cents per kWh if they are instead burned for electricity. So far
> I've seen no countervailing subsidies to recycling to at least keep some
> neutrality among the options. This once again demonstrates the folly of recycling
> interests trying to obtain subsidies for recycling rather than contesting
> subsidies to landfilling, incineration, and virgin materials production, all of
> which devalue recycling.
> The following practices are eligible for subsidies under the bill and likely
> to harm recycling and composting:
> -Landfill gas
> -Waste-to-energy plants burning mixed MSW (this is one of first bills to
> include WTE on the list of "qualified" biomass facilities. Normallly, it is
> explicitly excluded.
> -Another notable exception: almost all the past versions of the "biomass
> subsidies for everybody" provisions excluded old growth timber from
> eligibility. This one does not. I guess old growth makes good fuel...
> -Waste pallets and construction and demolition debris of all types other
> than treated wood.
> -Other electricity made from wood residues, including at existing
> facilities. This appears to provide tax subsidies to existing energy recovery at paper
> mills (among others). I working to confirm this, but if it is the case,
> would be a subsidy of hundreds of millions of dollars to virgin paper production
> for something they've already been doing for 30 years.
> -Paper that is not "commonly recycled," which will likely harm attempts to
> broaden the range of recycled fiber. No definition of what falls into the
> "commonly recycled" category.
> -For composting, pretty much anything woody out of a forest, anything with
> carbon on a farm. This includes wastes from sheep, pigs, chickens, and cows
> that get subsidized if you make electricity out of it. Especially with animal
> wastes, the primary beneficiaries will be the very large animal factory
> farms, as they are the ones with enough waste to run an energy plant. The
> provisions, aside from undermining organics recovery through composting, will also
> worsen the relative economics of family versus corporate farms, and of
> organic farms (which rely on nutrient recycling) versus chemical-intensive farms.
> In fact, all of the issues I highlighted in a past op-ed on and earlier
> energy bill seem to be items of concern in HR 6. See:
> For more on the impact of landfill gas subsidies on recycling see:
> For details on the energy bill provisions I've evaluated to date (lots of
> the recycling stuff not yet in there), see:
> Finally, for a bit of satire on the rather sordid process of this bill, see:
> Doug Koplow
> Earth Track, Inc.
> 2067 Massachusetts Avenue - 4th Floor
> Cambridge, MA 02140
> Tel: 617/661-4700
> Fax: 617/354-0463
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