Climate Compass Blog

Climate Interest, But No Action in the 113th Congress

The 113th Congress (2013-2014) is on track to be one of the least productive and most divided in history. No legislation explicitly mentioning climate change has been enacted into law, but more bills and resolutions related to climate change have been introduced in this Congress than in the previous one. (For brevity, we refer to all legislative proposals, including resolutions, and amendments, and draft bills, as “bills.”)

Only two bills loosely related to climate change (though not directly referencing it) have been passed and signed into law: the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act and the Hurricane Sandy Relief bill, which provided $17 billion and $9.7 billion, respectively, to cope with Sandy’s aftermath.

Of the 221 bills introduced that explicitly reference climate change or related terms, such as greenhouse gases or carbon dioxide, the majority support climate action. These focus primarily on building resilience to a changing climate, supporting the deployment of clean energy, and improving energy efficiency. A number would use some form of carbon pricing to reduce emissions.

My mission at C2ES: Building common ground

I’m honored and excited to be taking the helm today of an organization that has done so much to build common ground for practical climate and energy solutions. Throughout my career, I’ve worked to bring diverse interests together to protect both our environment and our economy. I’m eager to continue that work at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.

We are at a critical time, with both the obligation and the opportunity to forge lasting solutions to the profound challenge of climate change. Innovation is opening new possibilities in transportation, energy efficiency and generation, resource extraction, and renewable energy.  With smart and creative policy, we can harness and drive this innovation – and the power of markets – to secure our energy, economic and climate future.

During my time at EPA, in the nonprofit sector, and in state and local government, I’ve worked together with stakeholders to find consensus solutions to complex challenges. From neighborhood redevelopment efforts, to statewide solid waste plans, to working with auto and energy companies on EPA rules, bringing people together has not always been easy, but it’s always proven the best way forward.

And that is precisely what distinguishes C2ES – a commitment to bringing people together to forge practical policy solutions. From the local to the global, C2ES works closely with members of its Business Environmental Leadership Council, with policymakers, and with a wide array of other stakeholders to unpack the issues and options and to build common ground.

I want to thank the C2ES Board of Directors, and most importantly our founding president, Eileen Claussen, for building such an outstanding organization, and for entrusting me with its stewardship. I look forward to working with the board, and with the dedicated and talented C2ES team, to broaden our reach and our impact in the years ahead.   

There is so much remarkable work going on in the United States and around the world to develop innovative, practical solutions that meet our climate, energy and economic needs. I’m excited to bring my own energy to C2ES to help meet this historic challenge. Future generations are counting on us all to keep that vision in sight.

Two smartphone apps help you shop with sustainability in mind

Little things add up. Switching off the lights when you leave a room, adjusting your thermostat when you go to work, or running your washing machine on cold all can save energy, save money, and help the environment. But what about the dozens of other small choices we all make without much thought, from what type of soap we use to what type of food we serve for dinner?

Two smartphone apps can help make the dizzying array of daily choices a little simpler and more sustainable.

The interdependence of water and energy

Have you ever thought that by leaving a light on, you’re wasting water, or that a leaky faucet wastes energy? It’s odd, but accurate.

That’s because water and energy are interrelated. Water is used in all phases of energy production, and energy is required to extract, pump, and move water for human consumption. Energy is also needed to treat wastewater so it can be safely returned to the environment.

C2ES recently hosted a series of webinars (video and slides here) on the intersection between water and energy (sometimes referred to as the “nexus”). The series was co-sponsored by the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies and the Water Information Sharing and Analysis Center. Participants discussed how the water and energy sectors depend on each other and how they can work together to conserve resources.

CCS projects see progress

Three recent announcements signal important progress toward greater deployment of technology to capture and store carbon emissions that would otherwise escape into the atmosphere. CCS technology can capture up to 90 percent of emissions from power plants and industrial facilities and is critical to reducing climate-changing emissions while fossil fuels remain part of our energy mix.

One piece of good news came when NRG Energy announced it has begun construction on the Petra Nova Project in Texas, where an existing coal-fired power plant will be retrofitted with carbon capture equipment. The Petra Nova Project will be the world’s third commercial-scale CCS power project, following the nearly-completed SaskPower Boundary Dam project in Saskatchewan, Canada, and Southern Company’s Kemper County Energy Facility in Mississippi opening in 2015.