WASHINGTON INSIGHT

Board adopts APWA advocacy priorities for 2008

Jim Fahey
Director of Government and Public Affairs
APWA Washington Office

During September's APWA International Public Works Congress & Exposition in San Antonio, Texas, the APWA Board of Directors adopted a new set of association advocacy priorities for 2008 and the remainder of 2007.

The new priorities maintain a continued focus on national issues of greatest concern to public works, including transportation; environmental protection and public health; water infrastructure investment; homeland security and emergency preparedness; and local control of public rights-of-way. They were recommended to the Board by the Government Affairs Committee.

In addition to adopting priorities, the Board of Directors again reaffirmed four overarching principles in support of APWA's advocacy priorities:

  1. Support for adequate investment in public infrastructure
  2. Respect for local authority
  3. Reasonable regulations and protection from unfunded mandates
  4. Support for streamlining government oversight

The priorities build upon successful member advocacy efforts of the past year and look ahead to address the public policy challenges for the next year. Listed below, they will guide APWA member advocacy efforts.

Full Funding for Surface Transportation
Objective: Increase federal investment in transportation infrastructure and programs; protect the integrity of transportation trust funds and the framework of SAFETEA-LU.

Global Climate Change
Objective: Recognize the potential impact of global climate change on quality of life and associated infrastructure.

Environmental Protection and Public Health
Objective: Support legislative and regulatory issues that encourage sustainable environmental protection and public health.

Wastewater and Drinking Water Infrastructure Funding
Objective: Increase the federal investment in clean water and drinking water infrastructure.

Comprehensive Stormwater Management and Funding
Objectives: Support solutions that promote a comprehensive approach to stormwater management that recognizes the quality-of-life benefits associated with such actions. Support funding for the research pilot projects that support the development of best management practices.

Homeland Security Priorities

  1. Disaster Assistance: Achieve increased funding for local agencies, encourage initiatives at the federal level that support an all-hazards approach to disaster management, more rapid disbursement and more flexibility of funding and quicker response in pre- and post-disaster events.

  2. Security of Public Facilities and Systems: Support implementation of security measures necessary to protect the public with required funding.

  3. Emergency Response Support: As first responders, assure that public works is fully integrated in a comprehensive, interdisciplinary, emergency response and secure the necessary funding and resources to meet that demand.

Local Control of Public Rights-of-Way
Objective: Protect local control over public rights-of-way.

Water Resources Development Act
Objective: Support full funding and programming of the Water Resources Development Act.

Air Quality Standards
Objective: Support solutions that protect air quality and promote the efficient and cost-effective delivery of public works services.

APWA will communicate these priorities to policymakers and elected officials through the work of the various APWA committees, chapters, task forces and members. They may be updated during the course of the year if necessary.

The priorities are posted on APWA's website, www.apwa.net/advocacy. To find out more about APWA advocacy, visit the website or contact the APWA Washington Office at (202) 408-9541.


Climate change legislation in 110th Congress

Julia Anastasio
Senior Manager of Government Affairs
APWA Washington Office

Congressional attention to global warming and climate change has grown rapidly in the past few years and Congress is beginning to seriously debate legislation to address the controversial problem. In June 2005, the U.S. Senate passed a landmark resolution calling for a "comprehensive and effective national program of mandatory, market-based limits and incentives on emissions of greenhouse gases that slow, stop and reverse the growth of such emissions." S. Amend 866, "A Sense of the Senate Climate Change Resolution" proposed by Senators Bingaman, Spector, Domineci, Alexander, Cantwell, Lieberman, Lautenberg, McCain, Jeffords, Kerry, Snowe, Collins and Boxer adopted by a vote of 53 to 44 on June 22, 2005. Congressional Record. Vol. 151, June 22, 2005, S7033-S7037, S 7089. Multiple bills have been introduced in the 110th Congress covering a wide range, ranging from climate change research to comprehensive (multi-pollutant) greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) cap and trade programs. Some bills focus on GHG reporting or registration, or on power plant emissions of carbon dioxide as part of wider controls on pollution.

The bills introduced to date vary in their approaches to addressing climate change. For example, some bills cover research that focuses solely on modeling the effects of climate change, while others address the development of monitoring systems. Still other bills focus on using tax incentives and credit-based programs to spur technology deployment within the United States or by promoting technology deployment in developing countries. Bills have also been introduced that include GHG registries that are designed either as part of a larger GHG reduction package or as a method for establishing a baseline for some future reduction program. The bills with mandatory emissions reductions differ by the entities covered, the gases regulated and the emissions targets required.

This article briefly summarizes several of these bills that could affect public works departments if they become law. If you have specific questions or comments on this article, contact Julia Anastasio at janastasio@apwa.net.

S. 280: Climate Change Stewardship & Innovation Act of 2007 (Lieberman/McCain)
Summary: The bill provides for accelerated reduction of GHG in the United States by establishing a market-based emissions cap and trade system. The bill's provision takes effect in 2012 and is projected to cut GHG emissions by 15% in 2020 and 65% by 2050. Regulated entities will include electric power, industrial, commercial, transportation and petroleum sources. The bill also establishes a Climate Change Credit Corporation to reduce costs to consumers and provides R&D funds and requires periodic evaluation to determine whether emissions targets are adequate.
Status: Referred to Senate Environment & Public Works Committee

S. 309: Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act (Sanders/Boxer)
Summary: The bill will amend the Clean Air Act to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by establishing performance-based standards with an option for an emissions cap and trade system. These new emissions caps would take effect in 2010, resulting in a 15% reduction in GHG emissions by 2020 and 83% reduction by 2050. Electric generation, motor vehicles and fuels are considered regulated sources under the bill. It also provides funding for R&D on geologic sequestration projects, emissions standards for new vehicles beginning in 2016 and a renewable fuels requirement for gasoline beginning in 2016, energy efficiency and renewable portfolio standards (beginning in 2008) and low carbon electric generation standards (beginning in 2016) for electric utilities and requires periodic evaluations by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to determine whether emissions targets are adequate.
Status: Referred to Senate Environment & Public Works Committee

S. 317: The Electric Utility Cap & Trade Act of 2007 (Feinstein/Carper)
Summary: The bill establishes an emissions cap and trade system for electric utilities that will go into effect in 2011. The bill will result in an 8% reduction in GHG emissions by 2020 and a 41% reduction by 2050. The bill also establishes a Climate Science Advisory Board to inform the President and Congress of the state of climate science and make recommendations to achieve climate stabilization; provides R&D funding for low- and zero-emission carbon technologies, clean coal technologies and energy efficiency technologies relevant to the utilities industry, and requires periodic evaluations by EPA to determine whether emissions targets are adequate.
Status: Referred to Senate Environment & Public Works Committee

S. 1766: Low Carbon Economy Act of 2007 (Bingaman/Specter)
Summary: The bill creates a comprehensive GHG cap and trade program that would take effect in 2012; covers emissions associated with natural gas and petroleum at point of production and from coal at point of combustion; sets targets of reducing a safety valve whereby regulated entities can purchase additional allowances at a ceiling price, which is initially set at $12 per metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent, but increases incrementally each year; allowance allocation includes combination of free allocation (grandfathering), auctions and set-aside allowances for specific purposes, auction revenues and sales of additional allowances support new funding programs: the Energy Technology Deployment Fund, the Climate Adaptation Fund, and the Energy Assistance Fund. The bill requires other nations (excluding the least-developed countries and those that contribute no more than 0.5% of global emissions) that have not taken comparable emission reduction action, starting in 2019, to submit international reserve allowances (or foreign equivalents) with exports of applicable GHG intensive goods and primary products to the U.S.
Status: Referred to Senate Environment & Public Works Committee

S. 485: Global Warming Reduction Act (Kerry/Snowe)
Summary: The bill will amend the Clean Air Act to establish an economy-wide global warming pollution emission cap and trade program to assist the economy in transitioning to new clean energy technologies; to protect employers and affected communities; to protect companies and consumers from significant increases in energy costs; and establishes performance standards. The emissions cap will go into effect in 2010, and will result in a 15% reduction in GHG emissions by 2020 and 67% by 2050. The bill would cover "sources and sectors with the greatest global warming pollutant emissions" as defined by EPA. The bill also establishes a nationwide passenger vehicle standard no less stringent than California's by 2014, gives consumers tax credits for advanced vehicle technologies; mandates 60 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2030, requires installation of E85 pumps at certain gas stations and requires periodic evaluation by the National Academy of Sciences to determine whether the emission targets are adequate.
Status: Referred to House Committee on Energy & Commerce

S. 1168: Clean Air/Climate Change Act of 2007 (Alexander/Lieberman)
Summary: The bill creates a multi-pollutant cap and trade program that requires reductions in sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, mercury and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide reductions apply to electric generating units (above 25 MW) and caps carbon dioxide emissions at 2.47 billion metric tons in 2012, declining by 1% annually beginning in 2016 and by 1.5% beginning in 2020.
Status: Referred to Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

S. 1177: Clean Air Planning Act of 2007 (Carper)
Summary: The bill creates a multi-pollutant cap and trade program that requires reductions in sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide reductions apply to electric generation units (above 25 MW). The carbon emissions will be capped at 2.47 billion metric tons in 2012; declining by 1% annually beginning in 2016 and by 1.5% beginning in 2020.
Status: Referred to Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

S. 1201: Clean Power Act of 2007 (Sanders)
Summary: The bill creates a multi-pollutant cap and trade program that requires reduction in sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide reductions apply to electric generation units (above 25 MW). The carbon dioxide emissions will be capped at 2.3 billion metric tons by 2011, declining to 1.5 billion tons in 2025 and incrementally thereafter until 2050. The bill also creates a new Low-Carbon Generation Requirement and credit trading program beginning in 2015. The bill creates a new Energy Efficiency Performance Standard and credit program in 2008; creates a Renewable Portfolio Standard and credit program beginning in 2008; and requires final geological carbon disposal standards within six years of enactment and biological sequestration standards within two years of enactment.
Status: Referred to Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

S. 1387: National Greenhouse Gas Registry Act of 2007 (Klobuchar)
Summary: The bill amends the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act by establishing a mandatory GHG inventory, registry, and information system and requires affected facilities (those generating more than 10,000 metric tons of GHG emissions during a calendar year) to submit annual reports to an appropriate state agency (which will then send the amassed state reports to EPA describing GHG emissions).
Status: Referred to Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

S. 1554: Energy Independence Clean Air Act & Climate Security Act of 2007 (Collins)
Summary: The bill creates a multi-pollutant cap and trade program that requires reductions in sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide reductions apply to electric generating units (above 15 MW). Carbon dioxide emissions will be capped at 2.05 billion tons by 2022, with further reductions if the EPA determines the levels are not reasonably anticipated to protect public health or welfare or the environment. Additionally, the bill amends the Clean Air Act to establish a program within EPA to determine the life-cycle GHG emissions of motor fuels. It also requires that by the end of 2011 applicable parties (generally those that produce or supply these fuels to the U.S. market) to reduce the average life-cycle GHG emissions. The average life-cycle GHG emissions must be at least equal to the 2008 baseline as determined by EPA. Average life-cycle GHG emissions must be at least 5% below the 2008 baseline by 2015 and an additional 10% reduction by 2020. Reductions will be implemented through a credit trading system. Additionally, the bill will set up a grant program to support research involving low carbon fuels and creates a program within NOAA to conduct research regarding abrupt climate change.
Status: Referred to Senate Finance Committee

S. 1602: Clean Reliable Efficient & Secure Energy Act of 2007 (Hagel)
Summary: The bill amends the Energy Policy Act of 1992 and the voluntary GHG reporting program to encourage new and increased voluntary efforts to reduce, avoid, or sequester emissions of GHGs. The bill directs the Secretary of Energy to establish a program that would provide annual public recognition to persons and entities demonstrating GHG emissions reduction, avoidance or sequestration. The NAS is instructed to study the uses, including industrial applications, for captured carbon dioxide other than sequestration-enhanced oil recovery or carbon trading. The bill directs the Department of Interior to complete a national assessment of geologic storage capacity for carbon dioxide and establish a regulatory reform for carbon sequestration commission that would identify any regulatory barriers to siting new manufacturing facilities, power plants and other necessary infrastructure in close proximity to the potential carbon dioxide storage sites identified in the national assessment.
Status: Referred Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee.

S. 1696: Dept. Interior, Environment & Related Agencies Approps Act of 2008 (Feinstein)
Summary: The bill provides funding for EPA to use its existing authority under the Clean Air Act to develop and publish a rule requiring mandatory reporting of GHG emissions above appropriate thresholds in all sectors of the economy. The new rule must be published no later than December 31, 2008.
Status: Awaiting consideration by Senate.

HR 620: Climate Stewardship Act (Olver/Gilchrest)
Summary: The bill creates a GHG emissions cap and trade system that covers electric power, transportation, industry and commercial sectors resulting in a 15% GHG emissions reductions by 2012 and a 75% reduction by 2050. After 2050 the emissions cap would decline to close to 70% below 1990 levels. The bill also calls for studies on the impacts of climate change on coastal ecosystems and communities, and the world's poor, among others; requires an assessment of adaptation technologies; creates a national GHG database; mandates a periodic review of target adequacy by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Status: Referred to House Committee on Energy & Commerce

HR 1451: New Options Petroleum Energy Conservation Act of 2007 (Lungren)
Summary: The bill provides a tax credit for investment in a climate-neutral combustion facility. A climate-neutral combustion facility is defined as (1) burns matter to produce electricity; (2) captures and uses carbon dioxide released during combustion to recover hydrocarbon fuel; (3) produces no emissions of mercury or GHG emissions and no emissions that form fine particulate, smog, or acid rain. The bill extends through 2012 the tax credits for investment in solar energy property and for residential energy efficiency property expenditures. The bill also directs the Department of Energy to establish a program to award $1 billion to the first U.S. manufacturer that manufactures and sells in the U.S. 60,000 mid-sized sedans that operate on gasoline and can travel at 100 miles per gallon.
Status: Referred to House Committee on Ways and Means

HR 1590: Safe Climate Act (Waxman)
Summary: The bill creates an economy GHG cap and trade system that will take effect in 2010; the cap would decline annually to reach 1990 levels by 2020. Subsequent annual declines (approximately 5%/year) would require emissions reductions of approximately 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Sources and sectors with the largest emissions as determined by the EPA are covered. The bill also includes provisions requiring mandatory GHG emission standards for vehicles by 2010 and a new energy efficiency standard beginning in 2010, establishes a renewable energy portfolio standard by 2009 and by 2020 a 20% electric generation must be from renewable sources. The bill requires periodic review of adequacy of GHG emissions target by the National Academy of Sciences. The NAS review would take into account international activity and recommend actions for both the U.S. and other nations to take if the GHG targets are not likely to avoid dangerous climate changes.
Status: Referred to House Committee on Energy and Commerce and House Committee on Finance and Administration

HR 2069: Save Our Climate Act of 2007 (Stark/McDermott)
Summary: The bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code to impose an excise tax on the carbon content of any taxable fuel sold by a manufacturer, producer or importer. Sets the amount of the tax at $10 per ton of the carbon content in such fuel. Taxable fuels include coal, petroleum, and any petroleum product and natural gas.
Status: Referred to House Committee on Ways and Means

HR 2215: To provide for the reduction in the aggregate Greenhouse Gas Emissions per unit of energy consumed by vehicles and aircraft (Inslee)
Summary: The bill directs EPA to establish a low carbon fuel performance standard for vehicles and aircraft that would apply in 2015.
Status: Referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee

HR 2447: Energy & Environment Block Grant Act of 2007 (Wynn)
Summary: The bill establishes an Energy and Environment Block Grant Program to award grants to eligible cities and counties to support local GHG emission reduction activities including the development of a GHG reduction strategy; energy audits; weatherization programs; financial incentives for energy efficiency retrofits; and grants to nonprofit organizations and government agencies for energy retrofits.
Status: Referred to House Energy and Commerce and House Science and Technology Committees

HR 2701: Transportation Energy Security & Climate Change Mitigation Act of 2007 (Oberstar)
Summary: The bill authorizes programs administered by DOT to reduce environmental emissions from public transportation entities, rail carriers, and certain shippers. The bill establishes a commission on water resources and implements provisions of a treaty to prevent pollution from ships. The bill promotes energy-efficient transportation and public buildings, creates incentives for the use of alternative fuel vehicles and renewable energy, and ensures sound water resource and natural disaster preparedness planning.
Status: Reported out of Committee and awaiting action by House.