White House: Climate Policy Intact Despite GOP Rider

In this photograph taken on January 31, 2013, condensation lifts from wet mounds of coal piled at a road side coal depot near Rymbai village in the Indian northeastern state of Meghalaya. Thousands of private mines employ slim men and boys that will fit in thin holes branching out from deep shafts dug out from the ground in the East Jaintia Hills in Northeastern Indian state of Meghalaya. This state is the only state in India where coal mining is done privately by mine owners, who use cheap labour to supply the demand for this energy resource. Accidents and quiet burials are commonplace, with years of uncontrolled drilling making the rat-hole mines unstable and liable to collapse at any moment. After decades of unregulated mining, the state is due to enforce its first-ever mining policy later this year.
National Journal
Jan. 14, 2014, 4:44 p.m.

A GOP-backed provision in the new $1 trillion federal spending bill does not kneecap President Obama’s bid to largely end U.S. support for building coal plants overseas despite adding new restrictions, administration officials say.

“While some limited environmental riders were included, our ability to continue to move our environment and climate agenda forward is very much intact,” said Matt Lehrich, a White House spokesman.

The compromise bill unveiled Monday night softens an Export-Import Bank policy that largely prevents U.S. support for coal-fired power plants in developing nations unless the projects employ carbon emissions-trapping technology.

House Appropriations Committee Republicans say that the bill would “prohibit” the bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation from “blocking coal and other power-generation projects, which will increase exports of U.S. goods or services.”

But how much does the bill, which will be in effect through Sept. 30 once enacted, really erode the climate policy?

The policy announced in December already has an exception for projects in the world’s poorest nations as long as there’s no economically feasible alternative to building a coal plant without carbon capture. The spending bill, which Congress is expected to approve this week, expands the number of countries in which construction of coal plants without the emissions controls is eligible for the U.S. agencies’ support.

An Ex-Im Bank spokesman said the GOP provision would have the effect of adding 15 countries to that list, including India, Vietnam, and Mongolia.

The provision “would not overturn the bank’s guidelines but would, instead, modestly expand the number of countries considered ‘poorest’ for this fiscal year,” spokesman Phil Cogan said. “This means that the bank could consider financing coal projects in certain countries which are not currently eligible for consideration, provided the projects comply with pre-existing environmental and other credit criteria.”

Jake Schmidt of the Natural Resources Defense Council expressed confidence that the GOP rider will not push the U.S. agencies into supporting coal-plant construction. “It is clear that OPIC and Ex-Im understand that these coal projects aren’t appropriate, so this shouldn’t change the projects that they actively seek out or put to the board for a vote,” said Schmidt, NRDC’s director of international climate policy.

“Hopefully the sign at these institutions still says ‘closed to coal projects except in very rare circumstances,’ ” Schmidt said in an email.

OPIC has not financed a coal plant in a decade anyway, according to Reuters.

The Ex-Im Bank, on the other hand, has been active in coal-project financing in recent years, according to an NRDC analysis, although last year it decided against backing a coal plant in Vietnam.

House Republicans say the spending bill rider will help protect the U.S. export market. The bill language states that Ex-Im and OPIC can’t enforce policies that block support for plants that provide affordable power in this expanded list of countries and “increase exports of goods and services from the United States or prevent the loss of jobs from the United States.”

What We're Following See More »
BREAKING WITH THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AFTER TRUMP INSULTED THE SENATOR
McCain Family to Endorse Biden
39 minutes ago
WHY WE CARE

"The late Sen. John McCain's family plans to support former Vice President Joe Biden's White House bid, backing the Democrat not only in his party's crowded primary race but also in a general election matchup with President Trump, the Washington Examiner has learned. In an extraordinary snub to Trump, who derided McCain's Vietnam War service and mocked him even after his death last August at age 81, the McCain family is preparing to break with the Republican Party. McCain represented the party in Congress for 35 years and was chosen as its presidential nominee in 2008, losing to Barack Obama."

Source:
LEGAL BATTLE BETWEEN THE WHITE HOUSE AND CONGRESS LOOMS
IRS Resists Giving Congress Trump's Tax Returns
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin left little doubt Tuesday that the administration will reject a congressional request for President Donald Trump's tax returns by a self-imposed May 6 target for a "final decision," setting the stage for a legal battle that will test the limits of congressional oversight."

Source:
CALLS CONGRESS "VERY PARTISAN"
Trump Opposes White House Aides Giving Congressional Testimony
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"President Trump on Tuesday said he is opposed to current and former White House aides providing testimony to congressional panels in the wake of the special counsel report, intensifying a power struggle between his administration and House Democrats. In an interview with The Washington Post, Trump said that complying with congressional requests was unnecessary after the White House cooperated with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe of Russian interference and the president’s own conduct in office."

Source:
GAG RULE WOULD HAVE KEPT CLINICS FROM REFERRING WOMEN TO ABORTION PROVIDERS
Judge Blocks Trump Abortion Rule
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"U.S. District Judge Michael J. McShane late Tuesday said he’ll grant a preliminary injunction against new federal restrictions that bar taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring patients to abortion providers, calling the rule a 'ham-fisted approach to public health policy.' Oregon is one of 20 states and the District of Columbia that challenged the Trump administration’s changes to the Title X family planning program in U.S. District Court in Oregon, along with Planned Parenthood affiliates and the American Medical Association."

Source:
WANTS IT BY MAY 1
Nadler Subpoenas Unredacted Report
5 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

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