Clean-Energy Experts to Obama: You Don’t Need Congress

Deputy assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Heather Zichal will soon step down.
National Journal
Amy Harder
Jan. 21, 2014, 6:48 a.m.

A new re­port re­leased Tues­day lays out a path for Pres­id­ent Obama to by­pass Con­gress and move for­ward on clean-en­ergy policies by us­ing ex­ec­ut­ive powers and col­lab­or­a­tions with states and private com­pan­ies.

“Wheth­er it’s 129, 200, or 72, the num­ber of ex­ec­ut­ive ac­tions is go­ing to be ro­bust,” Heath­er Zichal, who stepped down late last year as Pres­id­ent Obama’s top en­ergy and cli­mate ad­viser, said at an event an­noun­cing the re­port in Wash­ing­ton.

Zichal helped co­ordin­ate the re­port, which was led by former Demo­crat­ic Col­or­ado Gov. Bill Ritter and has been al­most a year in the mak­ing. The re­port of­fers the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion 200 re­com­mend­a­tions, in­clud­ing de­vel­op­ing cli­mate rules with­in the EPA that pro­mote the use of re­new­able tech­no­lo­gies, en­sure that re­new­able en­ergy re­ceives the same tax treat­ment as fossil-fuel en­ergy re­sources, ap­ply strict frack­ing rules, and de­vel­op meth­ods that can count “ex­tern­al­ized” costs of fossil-fuel en­ergy, such as pol­lu­tion.

“Use these meth­ods to es­tab­lish pri­or­it­ies for fed­er­al sup­port of en­ergy re­sources and dir­ect it to the ‘best of the above’ rather than ‘all of the above,’ ” states the re­port.

The White House dir­ec­ted Ritter and some 100 oth­er in­dustry ex­perts who helped write the re­port to fo­cus on six main areas: en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, re­new­able mar­kets, re­new­able-en­ergy fin­an­cing, al­tern­at­ive-fueled vehicles, new busi­ness mod­els, and nat­ur­al-gas rule­mak­ings.

The re­port doesn’t tackle some of the most con­tro­ver­sial top­ics fa­cing Obama right now, in­clud­ing the Key­stone XL pipeline and ex­ports of nat­ur­al gas and oil.

Ritter says that wasn’t the point of the re­port.

“This wasn’t about us tak­ing on one of the biggest dis­putes around en­ergy,” Ritter said. “This was about the pres­id­ent mov­ing ahead on a clean-en­ergy eco­nomy.”

Re­ports are pub­lished al­most daily in Wash­ing­ton, with much fan­fare upon their re­lease, but without much last­ing at­ten­tion. This one is dif­fer­ent, Zichal said, namely be­cause its im­petus came from a 90-minute meet­ing Ritter and oth­ers at­ten­ded with Obama last March.

“At the end of the day, what’s go­ing to keep this re­port rel­ev­ant is that the pres­id­ent is go­ing to keep the pres­sure on his agen­cies to find new ideas, to find ad­di­tion­al areas of op­por­tun­ity, so that when he leaves of­fice in three years, he will have full con­fid­ence that we have done as much as he pos­sibly can do.”

The role of Con­gress was barely men­tioned in the hour-long event Tues­day morn­ing, which Ritter im­plied was in­ten­ded: “They’re not our audi­ence here. It was the pres­id­ent and the agen­cies.” 

What We're Following See More »
ONE MORE INVESTIGATION
IRS Investigating Clinton Foundation
42 minutes ago
WHY WE CARE

Investigations are never far from the Clintons, and here's another: At the behest of "dozens" of Republican lawmakers, the IRS is opening a fraud investigation into the Clinton Foundation."The move signals a shift from the IRS's announcement last year that it would not look into allegations of financial irregularities at the well-connected charity."

Source:
INFIGHTING AMONG COMMISSIONERS TO BLAME
Report Details Terrible Morale at FEC
50 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

"Bickering commissioners, ineffective managers and lousy internal communication rank among the top reasons why the Federal Election Commission" has some of the worst morale in the federal government. That's the conclusion of an inspector general's report, which put "the most blame on the FEC’s six commissioners: three Democratic appointees and three Republican appointees who have regularly criticized one another and frequently (but not exclusively) deadlocked on high-profile political issues before them."

Source:
TRADE DEALS BACK IN THE NEWS
UAW President: Clinton Promised to Renegotiate NAFTA
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

On Tuesday, Dennis Williams, the president of the United Auto Workers, said that Hillary Clinton has told him that she will renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement if elected president. Trade deals, especially NAFTA, have played a prominent role in the campaign, with Clinton receiving heat both from her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders and GOP nominee Donald Trump. The Clinton campaign did not comment on Williams's comments, though that didn't stop the Trump campaign from weighing in. Hillary Clinton "will never renegotiate Bill Clinton's NAFTA," said Stephen Miller, senior policy adviser to Trump.

Source:
CONTRACTS MAY NOT BE RENEWED
Senate Contractors Short Cafeteria Workers by $1 Million
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The Labor Department announced Tuesday that federal contractors had shorted 674 Senate cafeteria workers to the tune of $1 million. Two companies, Restaurant Associates and its subcontractor, Personnel Plus, violated the law by misclassifying workers into lower-paying positions and having them work off the clock, the agency said." The department is looking into whether to renew the contracts.

Source:
ASSANGE WANTS TO CRIPPLE CLINTON’S CHANCES
Spy Agencies Hone in on Russia as Culprit of DNC Hack
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

"American intelligence agencies have told the White House they now have 'high confidence' that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee, according to federal officials who have been briefed on the evidence. But intelligence agencies have cautioned that they are uncertain whether the electronic break-in at the committee's computer systems was intended as fairly routine cyberespionage—of the kind the United States also conducts around the world—or as part of an effort to manipulate the 2016 presidential election." WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange "has made it clear that he hoped to harm Hillary Clinton's chances of winning the presidency."

Source:
×