Climate Capsule Week of January 19

Monday, January 19, 2009

(National Wildlife Federation)

Week of January 19, 2009

Highlight of the Week
President Obama, Congress Help Move America Toward Comprehensive Climate Action


In his January 20 inaugural speech, President Obama outlined the need to “roll back the specter of a warming planet” and he plans to work with Congress to pass comprehensive legislation to invest in alternative and renewable energy, end our addiction to foreign oil, address the global climate crisis and create millions of new jobs.


The Obama-Biden comprehensive New Energy for America plan will:

  • Help create five million new jobs by strategically investing $150 billion over the next ten years to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future.
  • Within 10 years save more oil than we currently import from the Middle East and Venezuela combined.
  • Put 1 million Plug-In Hybrid cars on the road by 2015, cars that are built here in America.
  • Ensure 10 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025.

To read more about the New Energy for America plan, visit

In the legislative branch, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi issued a statement detailing a timeline to pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation out of the Energy and Commerce Committee by Memorial Day.

Chairman Waxman has set an aggressive timetable for action to reduce global warming and our dependence on foreign oil. I share his sense of urgency and his belief that we cannot afford another year of delayI look forward to working with my colleagues in the House, our colleagues in the Senate, and President Obama to halt the grave threat of climate change,” Pelosi said in a statement.

NWF Backs Rep. Waxman's Push For Quick Climate Action


Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, declared his intention to pass a climate change bill out of committee before Memorial Day as he opened the new Congress' first hearing on climate legislation.

Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, said:

"We don't have a moment to lose. We need to move quickly to repower America with clean energy solutions right now to revitalize our economy and preserve our natural resources.

"Chairman Waxman has kicked off the new Congress by pledging prompt action in a powerful House committee to invest in clean energy technologies and reduce the pollution that causes global warming. His timetable of reporting a comprehensive climate and energy bill out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee by Memorial Day puts us on track to reassert America's environmental leadership before the nations of the world convene a major climate summit in Copenhagen this December.

"The National Wildlife Federation will mobilize our full efforts behind a strong cap-and-invest bill that, in the words of Chairman Waxman, measures up to the science. By taking prompt action on climate change, we will recharge America's economy with clean energy technologies, protect and restore our natural resources and lay the groundwork for a meaningful global agreement on climate change that engages all nations in protecting our children's future."


Happening This Week

Thursday, January 22: House Energy Committee Hearing on Economic Recovery Package, 10 AM, 2125 Rayburn House Office Building


House Transportation Committee Hearing on Infrastructure Investment, 10 AM, 2167 Rayburn House Office Building


Now until January 31: Residential-Scale Wind Turbines on Display at U.S. Botanic Garden


Next week, Wednesday, January 28: Green Jobs—A Foundation for the New American Economy? Hosted by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute at 2-3:30 p.m. in 385 Russell Senate Office Building


“[E]ach day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.”

—In his Jan.20 inaugural address, President Obama emphasizes the urgent need for climate action to revitalize our economy and protect our national security.

Economic Message of the Week

Green Inaugural Ball: ‘Yes We Can’ Be the New Green Economy

Almost 2,000 guests filled the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama and Joseph Biden and America's green economy at the 2009 Green Inaugural Ball.

Former Vice President Al Gore served as the event's Honorary Chair and was joined by more than 75 conservation, labor, civil justice, youth, and business groups who are promoting clean and efficient energy, bringing the technologies to market, protecting America's natural heritage and creating the green jobs that will be at the heart of America's economic recovery.

The sold out event was Executive Produced by Kevin Wall and Live Earth and featured musical performances by artists, Melissa Etheridge, Maroon 5, John Legend and Michael Franti. VIP guests included Blair Underwood, Lisa Ling, Paul Reiser, John Cusack, Bon Jovi, Paulina Rubio, as well as political heavyweights including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Robert Kennedy, Jr.

“This event celebrated the Big Green Tent—an ever expanding group of concerned citizens who know that restoring America's economic health is linked to restoring the health of our natural resources and reducing the impacts of global warming. Tonight we celebrated together the leadership of this network and the excitement we have to work with the new Administration and Congress to advance the green economy,” said Larry Schweiger, President and CEO of National Wildlife Federation.

The food at the Green Ball was local or organic and cooked in a kitchen nearby to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide. The scraps will be composted. The event’s carbon footprint will be canceled out by investment in renewable energy projects, the Associated Press reports.

Groups File Suit To Save Communities And Water From Oil Shale Proposals

A consortium of groups joined forces to put the brakes on Bush-era regulations and land management plans to fast-track development of oil shale, a dirty fossil fuel that threatens water resources, communities and wildlife in the West.  Oil shale development would also contribute to climate change.

The groups filed two suits in U.S. District Court for Colorado alleging that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under the Bush administration violated the National Environmental Policy Act in drafting regulations for a commercial oil shale program without, by their own admission, having sufficient information on the environmental impacts.


Craig Thompson, chair-elect of the National Wildlife Federation board of directors and a former oil shale worker states, “What the rush for oil shale development will bring is an impoverished landscape in which scarce water and stressed wildlife are pushed past the brink,” adding “Why the rush now, despite objections from Governors Freudenthal and Ritter, along with Senators Ken Salazar and Mark Udall?”


The suit also charges that the BLM violated federal procedure by amending 12 resource management plans in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming to allow oil shale and tar sands development on nearly two and one half million acres of land without the opportunity normally afforded the public to file an administrative appeal, or “protest,” of the decision. Furthermore, the Bush administration failed to ensure that taxpayers receive a fair return from oil shale lease royalties, in violation of Federal Lands Policy Management Act and the Energy Policy Act of 2005.       


Producing a liquid fuel from oil shale entails heating solid rock to temperatures in excess or 600°F to liquefy the kerogen inside for conversion into synthetic petroleum fuels.  Because of the large amounts of energy needed to heat and process oil shale, as many as 10 new coal power plants might be needed in the West, leading to increased emissions of greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change.


The Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Native Ecosystems, Colorado Environmental Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, National Wildlife Federation, Red Rock Forests, Sierra Club, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Western Colorado Congress, Western Resource Advocates, The Wilderness Society and Wilderness Workshop filed the suits.