US: climate deal complements Kyoto
Meanwhile, back inside the Beltway:
The US today insisted that its surprise announcement last night of a new pact over clean energy technologies with other five countries was not a threat to the Kyoto emissions treaty.
A deal between the US, Australia, China, India, South Korea and Japan was announced late yesterday in a statement by the US president, George Bush. The news prompted widespread surprise - not least in Downing Street.
The announcement of the New Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate received a mixed reaction, alarming many environmentalists. Critics noted that the partnership, which apparently comes after a year of secret talks, is not binding and sets no targets for reducing pollution.
By contrast the Kyoto protocol, signed by 140 countries to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, which experts believe contribute to global warming, is legally binding.
U.S. House approves $14.5 bln energy bill
The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday easily approved an energy bill packed with $14.5 billion in tax breaks and incentives and hailed by Republicans as a major change in U.S. energy policy.Lessee...line the pockets of big oil and gas? Check. Keep pouring money into Tom DeLay's piehole? Check. Annoy rest of world by announcing end-around "treaty" with ecologically-sensitive Chinese and other high-consuming nations that obliges us to do nothing? Check. Stick obligatory finger in Tony Blair's eye? Check. If only they had figured out a way to have John Roberts write a memorandum on these issues--which they could then withhold from the Senate--it would have been a perfect day.
Environmental and consumer groups criticized the legislation as a giveaway to an industry enjoying record profits with crude oil prices near $60 a barrel, while spending little on ways to curb demand or encourage renewable energy.
Of the bill's $14.5 billion in tax breaks and incentives over 10 years, nearly $9 billion is earmarked for oil and gas, electricity and coal companies. Less than $5 billion will be spent on energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.
Oil and gas companies will get royalty relief for production from deep water in the Gulf of Mexico, an inventory of energy deposits off Florida and other states, and tax breaks for enlarging existing oil refineries.
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group said it calculated all the tax breaks, guaranteed loans and direct spending were worth $25 billion to energy firms. "This bill keeps the oil, coal and nuclear industry firmly in the driver's seat," said Anna Aurilio, a PIRG spokeswoman.
Democrat Henry Waxman of California criticized last-minute items added to the bill after House and Senate negotiators halted debate. Among them was a $1.5 billion fund for drilling research that would benefit an energy consortium based in House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's Texas district, Waxman said.
The final version of the bill dropped some environmentally friendly measures, such as the Senate's requirement that the federal government find ways to cut U.S. oil demand and improve fuel mileage for gas guzzlers.