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
Ben Geman
Add to Briefcase
Ben Geman
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 »
PER SOURCES
Trump to Visit UK In July
29 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

"US President Donald Trump will visit the UK in mid-July, according to Sky sources," with a formal announcement expected soon. "Mr Trump was due to open the new US Embassy in London in February but cancelled the trip saying the building was too expensive and tweeting that he was not a 'big fan' of the decision to move its location."

Source:
TESTS WERE SUSPENDED LAST WEEK
North Korea Testing Site Collapsed
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

"North Korea’s underground nuclear test site has become unusable after a large part of it collapsed," say experts from the University of Science and Technology of China. "Their evidence comes just one week after a surprise announcement from leader Kim Jong Un that North Korea would stop nuclear tests." The finding contradicts the Trump Administration's claim that the closure was a major concession by North Korean leader Kim Jung Un, who is set to meet with him for talks with President Trump in May.

Source:
WILL REDUCE DEBATE TIME FROM 30 HOURS TO 8
Senate Rules Aims to Speed Confirmation of Nominees
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Republicans on Wednesday will begin a push to change Senate rules in a way that would allow the faster confirmation of President Trump's nominees, after months of complaints that Democrats are dragging out the process. The Senate Rules Committee will meet in the afternoon to consider a resolution that would reduce post-cloture debate for most Executive Branch nominees from 30 hours to just 8 hours. The goal is to prevent Democrats from stretching out debate over several days."

Source:
LESKO WILL FILL FRANKS’S SEAT
GOP Holds onto AZ-08 Seat Narrowly
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Arizona Republican Debbie Lesko won a special election to fill the deep red seat Trent Franks retired from earlier this year. Unofficial balloting had her up 52.9% to 47.2%. This victory is a bit close for comfort, considering Donald Trump's 21-point victory there in 2016. This victory will do very little to calm GOP nerves five months before Election Day.

TRUMP CALLED HIM A “GREAT GUY”
Apple CEO To Meet With Trump
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

Apple CEO Tim Cook will meet with President Trump today, "at a time of heightened trade tensions between the U.S. and China with technology caught up in the spat. Both countries have proposed import tariffs on each others' products, but the U.S. has been tough on Chinese technology firms." China is an important market for Apple, and Cook is expected to bring up the worsening trade relationship.

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