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 »
SAYS HIS DEATH STEMMED FROM A FISTFIGHT
Saudis Admit Khashoggi Killed in Embassy
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Saudi Arabia said Saturday that Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident Saudi journalist who disappeared more than two weeks ago, had died after an argument and fistfight with unidentified men inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Eighteen men have been arrested and are being investigated in the case, Saudi state-run media reported without identifying any of them. State media also reported that Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, the deputy director of Saudi intelligence, and other high-ranking intelligence officials had been dismissed."

Source:
ROGER STONE IN THE CROSSHAIRS?
Mueller Looking into Ties Between WikiLeaks, Conservative Groups
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is scrutinizing how a collection of activists and pundits intersected with WikiLeaks, the website that U.S. officials say was the primary conduit for publishing materials stolen by Russia, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Mueller’s team has recently questioned witnesses about the activities of longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone, including his contacts with WikiLeaks, and has obtained telephone records, according to the people familiar with the matter."

Source:
PROBING COLLUSION AND OBSTRUCTION
Mueller To Release Key Findings After Midterms
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Special Counsel Robert Mueller is expected to issue findings on core aspects of his Russia probe soon after the November midterm elections ... Specifically, Mueller is close to rendering judgment on two of the most explosive aspects of his inquiry: whether there were clear incidents of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, and whether the president took any actions that constitute obstruction of justice." Mueller has faced pressure to wrap up the investigation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, said an official, who would receive the results of the investigation and have "some discretion in deciding what is relayed to Congress and what is publicly released," if he remains at his post.

Source:
PASSED ON SO-CALLED "SAR" REPORTS
FinCen Official Charged with Leaking Info on Manafort, Gates
2 days ago
THE DETAILS
"A senior official working for the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has been charged with leaking confidential financial reports on former Trump campaign advisers Paul Manafort, Richard Gates and others to a media outlet. Prosecutors say that Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, a senior adviser to FinCEN, photographed what are called suspicious activity reports, or SARs, and other sensitive government files and sent them to an unnamed reporter, in violation of U.S. law."
Source:
FIRST CHARGE FOR MIDTERMS
DOJ Charges Russian For Meddling In 2018 Midterms
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"The Justice Department on Friday charged a Russian woman for her alleged role in a conspiracy to interfere with the 2018 U.S. election, marking the first criminal case prosecutors have brought against a foreign national for interfering in the upcoming midterms. Elena Khusyaynova, 44, was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. Prosecutors said she managed the finances of 'Project Lakhta,' a foreign influence operation they said was designed 'to sow discord in the U.S. political system' by pushing arguments and misinformation online about a host of divisive political issues, including immigration, the Confederate flag, gun control and the National Football League national-anthem protests."

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