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Tom Steyer's China Syndrome

Tom Steyer's China Syndrome

Billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer's anti-Keystone XL pipeline campaign has a consistent theme.

He likes offering the questionable allegation that the pipeline—which would bring oil-sands crude to Gulf Coast refineries—would really be a big gift to China.


In his anti-Keystone ads, China appears as a vaguely sinister force that will benefit from Canadian resources sent through the pipeline—at Americans' expense.

And Steyer's NextGen Climate Action group released polling Thursday that included a question about whether respondents are concerned that "Chinese companies with ties to the Chinese government have invested heavily in the tar sands that feed the Keystone XL Pipeline."

China is indeed one of the destinations for U.S.-produced refined products that are increasingly serving foreign markets in addition to domestic ones. But so are lots of other places.


More importantly, China is the world's largest greenhouse-gas emitter, the U.S. is No. 2, and U.S. officials are trying to deepen collaboration between the two nations on carbon pollution.

These are among the crosscurrent of climate-change politics in 2014. The U.S. needs China to be an ally on global warming. But in one raging climate battle—the one over Keystone—one of the most prominent players emphasizes China's role as competitor.

Ben Geman

P.S. To take the latest National Journal Energy Poll, click here



By Clare Foran (@ckmarie)

OBAMA'S CLIMATE DOCTRINE: IT'S ABOUT 'LEVERAGE.' Obama didn't provide a timeline for his Keystone pipeline decision, but he was willing to wade into climate policy at a press conference in Mexico.

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  • Our take: It's no surprise the president wants to shift attention away from the controversial project and onto a topic he feels casts him in a more favorable light.

LEGAL DECISION CREATES FRESH UNCERTAINTY FOR KEYSTONE. A Nebraska judge threw out a law that was used to approve a route for the pipeline through the state.

BUT TRANSCANADA ISN'T HURTING. Despite the fact that the company is awaiting Keystone approval, it's fourth-quarter earnings rose nearly 40 percent. (Paywall)

HOUSE DEMS WANT GREENER TRADE DEAL. Oregon Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Peter DeFazio and other House Democrats want to make sure the Trans-Pacific Partnership has strong environmental provisions.

JANUARY TURNED OUT TO BE PRETTY WARM. Global average temperatures last month were the fourth-warmest since record-keeping began, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

BIRDS, BOMBS, AND SHARKS, OH MY. Developers say that birds, sharks, and explosives that lay dormant from World War II are slowing the progress of offshore wind development.

FUKUSHIMA SPRINGS A LEAK, AGAIN. A storage tank containing toxic water at the site of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan is leaking. Meanwhile, Japan may be poised to reintegrate nuclear power into its energy mix.

MONIZ HEADS TO INDIA. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz is slated to travel to India in March where he will meet with energy officials in the country.

NATURAL GAS PRICES DIP. After price hikes due to cold temperatures and increased consumer demand, natural gas prices fell below $6 dollars on Thursday. (Paywall)

COURT CASE LOOMS IN OBAMA'S BID TO GO IT ALONE ON CLIMATE. Next week the Supreme Court will examine the administration's interpretation of the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon emissions from stationary sources.


NATIONAL JOURNAL ENERGY POLL: Should the U.S. invest in new nuclear reactors?

A) Yes

B) No

Click here to respond


HOW SAFE AND RELIABLE IS AMERICA'S ELECTRIC GRID? With cold weather and cyberattacks threatening the country's electric grid, what more should Washington do to make sure the lights stay on?

"Without question the biggest danger facing America's electric grid is the possible premature shutdown of coal-fired power plants, which could well happen as a consequence of a myriad of existing and proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations." -Bernard L. Weinstein, associate director, Maguire Energy Institute

"We should know by now that simply relying on the grid does not work. The current system—vulnerable to tree limbs falling on power lines or ice forming during storms—is inherently unreliable and dangerous. We have to do better, and with new technology, we can." -Lewis Milford, president and founder, Clean Energy Group and Clean Energy States Alliance

Read the full responses from National Journal's Energy Insiders


SMART GRID CONFERENCE. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Power & Security Society hold the 2014 Innovative Smart Grid Technologies conference.

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