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Carbon Taxes, Cap-and-Trade, and Pollution Standards–Energy Edge Brought to You by Chevron


By Jason Plautz (@jason_plautz), Ben Geman (@ben_geman), and Clare Foran (@ckmarie)

HOUSE DEM: LET STATES IMPOSE CARBON TAXES TO COMPLY WITH EPA RULE. Carbon-tax proposals are dead on arrival in Congress, but one lawmaker sees an opening to gain traction at the state level.


Maryland Democrat John Delaney is circulating a draft bill that would let states impose a carbon tax as an option for complying with EPA's upcoming carbon-emissions rules for existing power plants (or standards for other industrial-emissions sources that may be developed in the future).

"Until Congress acts, these regulations are the only way to begin to respond to climate change before the effects are irreversible. My legislation is designed to give states the option to use an even more efficient method," Delaney said in a statement.

The bill would let states impose a tax on emissions from existing stationary carbon-pollution sources that are subject to EPA standards. Brookings Institution economist and climate expert Adele Morris has been pushing the same idea ahead of EPA's planned early June rollout of the power-plant draft rule.


EPA CLIMATE RULE TO BOOST STATE CAP-AND-TRADE PROGRAMS. Upcoming carbon-emissions standards for the nation's power plants will "likely give a fresh push to regional U.S. carbon cap-and-trade systems by allowing for a holistic, statewide view of new pollution targets," Reuters reports. EPA intends to let states use existing emissions-trading programs rather than setting "inside the fence-line" standards for specific plants. (Valerie Volcovici, Reuters)

MONTEREY SHALE DOWNGRADED. The Los Angeles Times reported late last night that the Energy Information Administration will soon lower its projections for the amount of recoverable oil in California's Monterey Shale formation. According to the report, the EIA will announce that 600 million barrels of oil can be extracted from the shale rock, a 96 percent decrease from the previous estimate of 13.7 billion barrels. (Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times)

APRIL WAS HISTORICALLY WARM ON PLANET EARTH. The average global surface temperature last month was tied with 2010 as the warmest since recordkeeping began in 1880, according to the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration.

Temperatures were 0.77°C (1.39°F) above the 20th century average of 13.7°C (56.7°F), NOAA said in its latest monthly climate report. The U.S. wasn't especially toasty, however.


"Although the global temperature tied for record highest, the contiguous U.S. observed only its 46th warmest April and much of Canada had cooler-than-average to near-average temperatures for the month. This contrast is an example of how a globally-averaged temperature can differ from a single smaller region," NOAA's report states.

BP SEEKS SUPREME COURT REVIEW OF SPILL PAYMENTS. The oil giant will ask the high court to review BP's contention that it's being unfairly forced to pay up to hundreds of millions of dollars in claims that can't be tied directly to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. "No company would agree to pay for losses that it did not cause, and BP certainly did not when it entered into this settlement. BP will continue to fight to return the settlement to its original, explicit, and lawful purpose—the compensation of claimants who suffered actual losses due to the spill," the company said. (Collin Eaton, Houston Chronicle)

RUSSIA AND CHINA INK GAS DEAL. The two countries have entered into an agreement for Russia to provide China with natural gas for the next thirty years. Neither country has disclosed the exact price tag assigned to the negotiations. (Keith Johnson, Foreign Policy)

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GREENS SPLIT OVER PUBLIC KEYSTONE PRESSURE ON CLINTON. A number of environmental organizations have sent a letter to Hillary Clinton asking her to publicly oppose construction of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline. Notably absent from the list of signatories however were high-profile green groups like the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, and Natural Resources Defense Council. (Peter Nicholas, Wall Street Journal)

LOBBYING OVER OZONE HEATS UP. The EPA's scientific review panel will hold a conference call next week to discuss its recommendation to the agency on where to set new air-pollution standards for ozone, or ground-level smog. But lobbying around the standard is already in high gear. Today, several health groups—including the American Lung Association and the American Public Health Association—wrote a letter urging the panel to recommend a limit of 60 parts per billion, the low end of what EPA is considering.

Conservatives and industry groups are also messaging about the potential high cost of the standards, which would force more states to enact pollution-reduction plans. Recent editorials in The Hill and the Wall Street Journal have looked at the economic impact of the ozone rules and urged more consideration of those factors. And Sen. David Vitter, ranking member on the Environment and Public Works Committee, this week said the advisory committee shouldn't make a decision without updating certain risk data.

OBAMA MAKES MONUMENT DESIGNATION. The president will designate the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument on Wednesday. The monument will span 500,000 acres in southern New Mexico. The monument will stand as the largest monument designation made by the president during his term in office.

TEN YEARS OF POLLUTION, $2 MILLION IN PENALTIES. A years-old criminal lawsuit over the refiner Citgo's pollution in Corpus Christi, Texas, is getting fresh attention amid a surge of new development there and a recent ruling that dealt a blow to victims. (Ben Geman, National Journal)

CNN BOSS: 'LACK OF INTEREST' ON CLIMATE. Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN Worldwide, said that while climate change "is one of those stories that deserves more attention," the network hasn't gotten viewer involvement. "When we do do those stories, there does tend to be a tremendous amount of lack of interest on the audience's part," Zucker said at the Deadline Club's awards dinner. (Nicole Levy, Capital New York)

CALIF. COUNTY BANS FRACKING. Santa Cruz County voted Tuesday to ban fracking, the first county in the state to do so. The county itself doesn't have any oil and gas activity, but companies are exploring finds in neighboring San Bernadino county. (Rory Carroll, Reuters)

THE HOUSE SCIENCE COMMITTEE HAS HELD MORE HEARINGS ON ALIENS THAN ON CLIMATE CHANGE. The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee—led by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, since 2013—has held 15 hearings on space exploration alone, at least three of which have involved the search for extraterrestrial life. By comparison, Smith's committee has held just two hearings devoted to climate change. (Emma Roller, National Journal)


WHAT'S AT STAKE AT FERC? Is the nomination of Norman Bay to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission set to stir controversy? What's at stake in a decision about who should oversee the agency, and how do politics play into the nomination?

"As long as Jon Wellinghoff and Harry Reid continue to try and pack FERC with ideologically driven cronies like Ron Binz and Norman Bay, the confirmation processes for the vacancies at FERC will be contentious."—Tom Pyle, president, American Energy Alliance.

Read the full responses from National Journal's Energy Insiders.


MONIZ HIGHLIGHTS EFFICIENCY. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will tout the installation of energy-efficient streetlights in Detroit and make an address at an event hosted by the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program.

SHALE-GAS DISCUSSION. Maguire Energy Institute Associate Director Bernard Weinstein delivers remarks on "American Energy Independence and the Shale-Gas Revolution," at a luncheon discussion held by the National Economists Club.

CLIMATE-RISKS DISCUSSION. The Environmental and Energy Study Institute holds a discussion on "Losing Ground: Managing Climate Risks in the Southeast."

WATER-REGULATION EVENT. The Environmental Law Institute holds a seminar on "Will the New WOTUS (waters of the United States) Rule Float?"

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