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 »
EXPECTED TO SAY U.S. IS WITHDRAWING FROM TREATY
Bolton Lands in Russia for Talks
15 minutes ago
THE LATEST
SHE IS HAVING MEMORY ISSUES
Sandra O'Connor Stepping Back From Public Life
23 minutes ago
THE LATEST

"Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman on the Supreme Court has stepped back from public life. ...She last made public appearances over two years ago. This summer she turned over an office she had kept at the Supreme Court to the court’s most recently retired justice, Anthony Kennedy. Her son Jay O’Connor said in a telephone interview that his mother began to have challenges with her short-term memory. That made some public events more difficult. He says she now stays close to her Phoenix home."

SEX WOULD BE CONSIDERED BINARY
HHS Could Nix Title IX Protections for Transgender Students
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times. The department argued in its memo that key government agencies needed to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of gender as determined 'on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.' The agency’s proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with."

Source:
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:
×
×

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