By Laura Barron-Lopez and Timothy Cama - 09/08/14 07:05 PM EDT
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN: With 15 months left until countries meet at the United Nations (UN) climate change talks in Paris, government leaders, corporations, and stakeholders are beginning intense campaigns to make sure a global greenhouse gas pact is forged.
On Monday, Selwin Hart, director of the U.N.'s climate team under Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, said the Sept. 23, summit in New York marks a "major turning point" for negotiations.
Adding momentum to the UN's charge, a report from the international consulting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said the world is on track to surpass the 2 degrees Celsius threshold the UN set as a target to stave off catastrophic global warming.
The report characterized the 2015 Paris talks as the "last chance to secure a global agreement on action on climate."
President Obama will attend the climate summit later this month to tout U.S. action and urge leaders to join in on a binding accord.
Ready, set, go.
Congress is back, and with it the GOP's battle with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)...
EPA TAKEDOWN 1: The House is likely to vote Tuesday to stop what Republicans have characterized as a massive federal overreach by the EPA. A bill sponsored by Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) would stop the EPA from working on the “waters of the United States” rule, which it proposed in March to clarify its jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA).
Though it’s unlikely to get enough support to pass the Senate, the White House made its opposition to the bill known Monday with a veto threat, saying that “clarifying the scope of the CWA helps to protect clean water, safeguard public health, and strengthen the economy.” Earlier Monday, the EPA put out a list of questions and answers about the rule in yet another attempt to convey that the proposal would not significantly expand its authority.
EPA TAKEDOWN 2: A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee will question state regulators on the administration's signature climate rule on carbon pollution from existing power plants.
The Energy and Power Subcommittee will hear testimony from Indiana, Texas, Arizona, Rhode Island, Montana, Maryland, and Washington regulators. It's the second hearing on the proposed rules.
Rest of Tuesday's agenda...
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hear from Jeffery Baran and Stephen Burns, President Obama’s nominees for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) They would replace George Apostolakis and Bill Magwood. Baran is currently an aide for Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), ranking member in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Burns used to be general counsel at the NRC.
The House Natural Resources Committee will consider six bills related to the Endangered Species Act. The bills seek to reduce the rate at which the Fish and Wildlife Service settles endangered species lawsuits, require that draft economic analyses be made available when species listings are proposed and to allow states to submit species conservation plans before the federal government lists species. The committee will hear from local officials from western states, experts, federal officials and conservation advocates.
Later, the Natural Resource subcommittee on public lands will hold a hearing on eight bills within its purview to transfer land, change boundaries and other purposes.
The House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on the volatility and other properties of crude oil from the Bakken formation in North Dakota and what it means for crude oil transport by rail. The hearing is meant to examine, in part, a Department of Transportation report from July, in which officials concluded that Bakken oil has some different properties from other kinds of crude. Lawmakers will hear from Department of Transportation and Department of Energy officials, along with oil and firefighting representatives.
The International Water Resource Economics Consortium will wrap up its final day with a session on agricultural use of water, irrigation, economic modeling and water quality management, as well as a panel of top World Bank economists.
The Brookings Institute will host a discussion on the future of U.S. energy security and the crude oil export ban. Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers will participate.
AROUND THE WEB:
The movement to end the United States’ prohibition on crude oil export is picking up more steam than ever now that Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) is planning to sponsor a bill to end the ban, the Houston Chronicle reports.
Citing the urgency of climate change and the lack of political leadership to do something about it, a Massachusetts prosecutor significantly reduced charges for two climate activists who blocked a coal shipment, the Boston Herald reports.
Shell Oil Co. has started production in the Cardamom oil field in the Gulf of Mexico, which it expects to bring up to 50,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, the Times-Picayune reports.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Check out Monday's stories...
- White House threatens to veto bill to kill EPA water rule
- Report: Globe could surpass UN warming target
- House passes bill to authorize tsunami forecasting programs
- EPA tries again to explain water jurisdiction rule
- UN official: New York climate summit a 'major turning point'
- Greens hit $4 million for election campaigns
- Michigan ad hits Peters on Keystone opposition
- Keystone foes target pipeline's SD permit
- Feds to fund $8 million in micro grid projects
- Schwarzenegger to push climate change action
- UK government supports BP in court fight
- Week ahead: House returns to target energy, environmental regs
What’s the right approach to make aviation greener? More alternative fuels? New emissions standards? Hear case studies from the FAA, U.S. Navy, environmental experts, and industry leaders at The Hill's Sept. 16 Aviation Policy Summit, sponsored by Airlines for America. Register here.