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 »
"The Justice Department inspector general referred its finding that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe repeatedly misled investigators who were examining a media disclosure to the top federal prosecutor in D.C. to determine whether McCabe should be charged with a crime." The referral occurred "after the inspector general concluded McCabe had lied to investigators or his own boss, then-FBI Director James B. Comey, on four occasions, three of them under oath." The referral does "not necessarily mean McCabe will be charge with a crime ... although the report alleged that one of McCabe’s lies 'was done knowingly and intentionally.'"
A federal appeals court in Chicago "upheld a nationwide injunction against making federal grant funding contingent on cooperation with immigration enforcement." The three Republican appointees ruled that the Trump administration "exceeded its legal authority in trying to implement the new conditions without approval from Congress ... One judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals panel, Reagan appointee Daniel Manion, said he would narrow the injunction solely to protect Chicago. However, the two other judges assigned to the case said the nationwide injunction appeared to be justified."
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley "decided Thursday to delay markup" on a bill to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller until next week. But he remains steadfast in his support for a committee vote, despite Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's "pledge to kill it" if it gets to the floor.
North Korea has expressed its commitment to 'complete denuclearisation' of the Korean peninsula and is not seeking conditions, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Thursday. ... South Korea announced on Wednesday that it is considering how to change a decades-old armistice with North Korea into a peace agreement as it prepares for the North-South summit this month." The leaders of the respective countries are also expected to connect a phone line so they can communicate directly.
"California reached an agreement with the federal government that the state’s National Guard troops will deploy to the border to focus on fighting transnational gangs as well as drug and gun smugglers, Gov. Jerry Brown said. ... Brown said Wednesday he secured federal funding for terms similar to those outlined in last week’s proposed contract: The Guard cannot handle custody duties for anyone accused of immigration violations, build border barriers or have anything to do with immigration enforcement."