This month’s Washington Update offers an extensive overview of the major legislation that has recently been introduced on Capitol Hill, as well as the big takeaways from this month’s congressional hearings related to energy policy. We also examine the ramifications of President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, and highlight the Department of Energy’s latest funding announcements for three research and development projects.
On June 20, Mintz Levin and ML Strategies were thrilled to host Gina McCarthy, former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator under President Obama. McCarthy was the featured speaker at the Alliance for Business Leadership “Progressive Power Hour” held in our Boston office. During the course of the hour, McCarthy shared her optimism for the environmental progress state and local governments can make and emphasized the role businesses can play in serving the public good. To learn more about the event, read on!
On June 1st, 2017, President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the landmark Paris climate accord, sparking serious concern about the future of global efforts to mitigate climate change. In response, cities, states, and corporations across the United States are collaborating to submit a plan to the United Nations ensuring that the U.S. fulfills its emissions targets under the Paris accord – with or without support from the United States federal government.
The Massachusetts Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change is hosting hearings across the Commonwealth to gather input on clean energy and climate change. Launched by Senate President Pro Tempore Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton), the “MA Clean Energy Future Tour” began its nine-stop tour on May 8 and will end on June 26 in Boston. To learn more about this tour, read on!
A new trend is emerging among the country’s most influential fossil fuel investors: a demand for climate change accountability and progress towards a low-carbon economy. On May 31, 2017, a vote among Exxon Mobil’s shareholders approved a resolution mandating that the company begin offering detailed reports analyzing the impact of compliance with climate change policy on its core business. With this resolution, Exxon’s major shareholders are pushing directly against company leadership, which has historically resisted such disclosure.
One of President Trump’s early campaign promises was to dismantle the 2015 Clean Water Rule, the Obama administration’s regulation asserting federal power over navigable bodies of water and aiming to replace polluting coal-fired power plants with clean energy facilities. Now, thanks to a district court ruling in D.C., Trump may be one step closer to actualizing that promise. To learn more about this ruling and its impact, read on!
Last week, the White House unveiled its $1.65 trillion blueprint for the FY2018 federal budget, which prioritizes discretionary defense spending, with an increase of $54 billion to $603 billion, by reducing total non-defense discretionary funds to $462 billion. Among the agencies targeted for budget cuts, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would see its annual funding drop by 24 percent from $8.2 billion a year to $6.1 billion, and since much of that funding already goes to states and localities via grants, the reduction could have a significant impact on the agency’s primary functions. Along with direct funding cuts, the White House may reduce EPA staff by 20 percent, from about 15,000 to roughly 12,000. To learn more about which EPA programs could be cut and other effects the proposed budget could have on environmental and energy policy, read on!
A group of Republican senior statesmen is calling for a carbon tax to fight climate change. Led by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, former Secretary of State George P. Shultz and former Secretary of Treasury Henry M. Paulson Jr., the group believes a carbon tax, which depends on increasing fossil fuel prices to reduce consumption, is a “conservative climate solution” based on free-market principles. Baker and his colleagues met with White House officials on Wednesday to discuss their proposals, which would eliminate nearly all of the Obama Administration’s climate policies with a national carbon tax. This rising tax would start at $40 per ton and be returned to every American in the form of a quarterly check from the Social Security Administration. To learn more about their proposal, read on!
In December 2015, 195 nations and the European Union formally pledged to meet nationally determined emissions-reduction targets in the Paris Agreement. Since then, many experts have observed that the national targets are not sufficient in meeting the goal of limiting global warming to less than two degrees Celsius.
However, Jessika Trancik of the MIT Institute of Data, Systems, and Society recently presented research results that demonstrated that there is a mutually reinforcing cycle between emissions-reduction policies and technology development. Her analysis illustrates that for countries to meet their emissions-reduction pledges in the Paris Agreement, they need to deploy low-carbon technologies, which will spur technology innovation, lower costs, and ultimately enable further deployment of these technologies. To learn more about this cycle, read on!
On June 29, 2016, the North American Climate, Energy, and Environment Partnership was announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Barack Obama, and President Enrique Peña Nieto at the North American Leaders Summit in Ottawa, Canada. The three leaders publicly committed to see half of the continent’s electricity generated by clean sources by 2025—placing climate change at the center of the enduring Partnership. To learn more about the Partnership, read on!