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
Add to Briefcase
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 »
VENEZUELA, NORTH KOREA ADDED
White House Announces Enhanced Vetting for Eight Countries
24 minutes ago
WHY WE CARE
"President Trump is replacing his controversial travel ban with a targeted list of restrictions that will enhance vetting for nationals from eight countries, senior administration officials announced Sunday. The eight countries on the modified list of countries are Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen."

The officials say these states failed to comply with the U.S. information-sharing requirements that aim to make vetting processes stronger.

Source:
TRUMP SPEECH “AN ASSAULT ON OUR MOST CHERISHED RIGHT”
Every NFL Team Protests Trump in Some Way
24 minutes ago
THE LATEST

"Every team that played on Sunday participated in some form of demonstration" of President Trump's comments about players who kneel during the National Anthem. Some "players, coaches and executives ... stood together arm-in-arm along the sidelines" while "others sat, knelt or raised a fist" and some entire teams "stayed in the locker room or tunnel for the duration of the anthem." The Broncos' Von Miller, who knelt with 31 of his teammates, said, "We felt like President Trump's speech was an assault on our most cherished right—freedom of speech. So, collectively we felt like we had to do something before this game."

Source:
TUESDAY ADDRESS AT GEORGETOWN
Sessions to Address Campus Free Speech
24 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

"Trump isn't the only member of his administration fighting a culture war this week; his Attorney General Jeff Sessions will make a "free speech on campus address" on Tuesday at Georgetown University law school in D.C. It's going to get testy." Sessions will tell the students: "Whereas the American university was once the center of academic freedom — a place of robust debate, a forum for the competition of ideas — it is transforming into an echo chamber of political correctness and homogenous thought, a shelter for fragile egos."

Source:
FAR-RIGHT MAKES BIG GAINS
Merkel Wins Reelection but Party Loses Seats
24 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

"Angela Merkel will once again lead Germany, but her governing coalition is going to have to deal with the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which rode a wave of anti-immigrant anger to claim a sizable chunk of seats in the Parliament for the first time. ... AfD, a hard-right, anti-Islam group not even represented in parliament in 2013, has become the third largest party. That might mean big changes to the character of a parliament that, thanks to the long shadow cast by Germany’s Nazi past, was largely free of hardline nationalism. Elsewhere, the environmentalist Greens and classical liberal, centrist Free Democrats (FDP) both grew their share of the vote," at the expense of socialists and Merkel's Christian Democrats.

Source:
VOTE TO GO FORWARD
Collins, Cruz Appear to Oppose Health Bill
10 hours ago
THE LATEST

Republican opposition to the GOP health care bill swelled to near-fatal numbers Sunday as Sen. Susan Collins all but closed the door on supporting the last-ditch effort to scrap the Obama health care law and Sen. Ted Cruz said that "right now" he doesn't back it. White House legislative liaison Marc Short and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of the measure's sponsors, said Republicans would press ahead with a vote this week." Collins said she doesn't support the bill's cuts to Medicaid, while Cruz said it wouldn't do enough to lower premiums.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login