The Dernogalizer

June 4, 2010

Markey to Introduce Spill “Tool-Kit” Bill

Filed under: environment,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 5:33 pm
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Following BP CEO Admission of Unpreparedness, Chairman Will Push for 21st Century Safety and Response Technologies in “Oil SOS” Fund

June 3, 2010 – Following BP CEO Tony Hayward’s admission that his company did not have a “tool-kit” for a sizeable spill from a deep-water well, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) announced that he would introduce a bill creating an oil company-funded research and development program to create 21st century oil safety and spill response technologies. (more…)

May 28, 2010

Bi-Partisan Electric Vehicle Deployment Bills Introduced in House and Senate

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 1:37 am
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Legislation has been introduced in both the House and the Senate to help spur the development and deployment of electric vehicles as well as charging infrastructure.  As someone who recently test drove the Chevy Volt and has been watching the offshore drilling disaster unfold along with the rest of us, this is timely legislation to spur this technology and help accelerate our transition away from oil.  Below are the House and Senate press releases.

Markey, Biggert, McNerney, Eshoo Introduce Bipartisan Electric Vehicle Bill

May 25, 2010 – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) along with Reps. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), today announced the introduction of the Electric Drive Vehicle Deployment Act of 2010. The legislation will help create jobs and end our dependence on foreign oil by providing incentives to consumers to purchase electric vehicles, grants to selected communities to demonstrate widespread deployment of electric vehicles, and other measures to incentivize both deployment and domestic production of the needed vehicle components and charging infrastructure.

“The Electric Drive Vehicle Deployment Act will lead to a surge in job creation, help consumers, recharge our economy and greatly enhance our national and environmental security,” said Markey.  “We import most of the oil we use, much of it from countries that seek to do us harm.  The catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico is yet another reminder that it’s time for America to start driving toward a clean energy future, and electric vehicles can help power the way.

“From plug-in hybrids to all-electric cars, the auto industry is moving quickly to meet consumer demand for more efficient vehicles that cost less to fuel up,” said Biggert, a senior member of the House Science and Technology Committee.  “Thanks to these innovations, America is making great strides toward reducing emissions and cutting our dependence on expensive foreign oil.  But our electric and transportation infrastructure must keep pace with technology. The Electric Drive Vehicle Deployment Act will accelerate the deployment of electric vehicles and put new energy technologies within reach of more consumers and motorists. It also will help regional communities establish themselves as models for the development and installation of the next generation of transportation infrastructure, including public charging stations.  I look forward to working with my colleague, Chairman Markey, to advance this legislation and help put America’s transportation system on the fast track to electrification.”

Said Rep. Eshoo: “Our nation has been developing electric vehicles since the days of Thomas Edison. Sadly, he gave up on his dream, but Ed Markey and I have not given up on ours.  The Electric Drive Vehicle Deployment Act builds on the work we did in the House passed American Clean Energy and Security Act, which includes electric vehicle provisions, and it contains my bill H.R. 1742, to ensure that our nation develops the infrastructure necessary to ensure electric vehicles are a reality. The bill we are introducing today will make it possible to drive an electric vehicle from Menlo Park, New Jersey to Menlo Park, California spurring innovation and job creation along the way.”

Said Rep. McNerney: “This is a critical time to work with my colleagues to author the Electric Drive Vehicle Deployment Act, bipartisan legislation that will help advance the widespread use of electric vehicles.  There’s great potential for economic growth and job creation in this field and, right now with such high unemployment, it’s more important than ever to lay the groundwork for these new opportunities.  I look forward to our continued efforts to advance this legislation.”

Highlights of the Electric Drive Vehicle Deployment Act include:

  • The Secretary of Energy will competitively award $800 million to 5 different deployment communities around the country, with the objective of deploying 700,000 electric vehicles in those communities within six years.
  • At least $2,000 in additional consumer incentives for the first 100,000 consumers purchasing electric vehicles in these communities would be provided.
  • All Americans would continue to be eligible for the electric vehicle tax credit, which reduces the prices of an electric vehicle by up to $7500, and additionally, tax credits of the costs of purchase and installation of electric vehicle charging equipment for individuals (up to $2000) or businesses (up to $50,000 for multiple equipment purchases) would be extended.
  • Additional research, development, deployment and manufacturing incentives are provided for technologies that enable the widespread deployment of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure.


Senators say the bipartisan legislation will incentivize a transition to electric cars to decrease our dependence on foreign oil

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Washington, DC— Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced today the “Electric Vehicle Deployment Act of 2010,” a bill that promotes the rapid, near-term deployment of plug-in electric drive motor vehicles. The bill would create “deployment communities” across the country, where targeted incentive programs for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure systems would help demonstrate rapid market penetration and determine what “best practices” would be helpful for nationwide deployment of electric vehicles.

“I have always believed in pursuing new and innovative ways to provide for our country’s energy needs, especially as we work to reduce our reliance on imported oil” Dorgan said. “It is essential to be forward-thinking in our energy policy, which is why I am introducing this legislation to help country transition to an electric vehicle fleet. It’s a logical move that will strengthen our national security and improve our air quality, while relying on our abundant electricity supply to fuel our cars.”

“Republicans and Democrats agree that electrifying our cars and trucks is the single best way to reduce our dependence on oil,” Alexander said. “Our goal should be to electrify half our cars and trucks within 20 years, which would reduce our dependence on petroleum products by about a third, from about 20 million to about 13 million barrels a day. According to a Brookings Institution study, we could do this without building one new power plant, if we plugged our cars in at night when the country has huge amounts of unused electricity.”

“As the recent BP spill has shown, America’s dependence on oil carries with it massive economic and environmental risks,” Merkley said. “By accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles, we can take a major step in moving away from oil. These next-generation cars and trucks take advantage of the resources and technology we have available right now while putting us on the road to energy independence.”

Moving toward the use of electric vehicles is vital to reduce the country’s dangerous dependence on foreign oil, particularly in the transportation sector. The transportation sector accounts for more than two-thirds of total national petroleum consumption and it is 95 percent reliant on petroleum. The United States imported 57 percent of its oil needs in 2008 at a cost of some $380 billion – or nearly 60 percent of the total trade deficit. Reducing the transportation sector’s reliance on petroleum will strengthen national security and boost our economy.

Electric vehicle technology is already picking up speed with the Nissan Leaf, GM’s Volt, and the Ford Focus, all due out in the next year or so. The legislation is intended to encourage U.S. production and adoption of electric vehicles in response to some of the country’s most pressing problems, from dependence on foreign oil to climate concerns.

To encourage production and the adoption of electric vehicles, the legislation would increase incentives for electric vehicle purchases, promote the deployment of charging infrastructure, help coordinate and develop model electric vehicle communities, provide technical assistance to communities nationwide to plan for electrification, and increase electric vehicle research and development funding. The goal is to put the nation on a path to electrify half its cars and trucks by 2030, which if achieved, would cut U.S. demand for oil by about one-third.

April 13, 2010

Maryland Legislative is Over, What Happened? Pt. 2

Filed under: environment,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 6:35 pm
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Below is Environment Maryland’s legislative wrap-up from their website.

How Environment Maryland Priorities Fared

Environment Maryland won our top two legislative priorities – on transportation and solar power.

One of our other priorities was a bill to create a comprehensive energy plan for the state. This bill did not pass, but the momentum we generated has created an opening to work with Gov. O’Malley to create this requirement for state agencies without legislation.

Much of the action in Annapolis this year concerned the budget.  We were happy to avoid nearly all cuts to Program Open Space and other land preservation programs, and that $20 million was allocated to the Chesapeake Bay 2010 Trust Fund.  We were upset that the General Assembly diverted money from energy efficiency programs and that they used the budget to bully the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Maryland.

Beyond that, this was mostly a year of building for the future.  In an election year, legislators were quick to cave in to special interests and block good legislation.


Smart growth transportation spending (SB 760/HB 1155 – Pugh, Harrington/Lafferty)

Makes sure future transportation projects are consistent with state smart growth goals and greenhouse gas emission limits. Passed.


Solar power (SB 277/HB 471 – O’Malley)

Accelerates solar energy production in Maryland. Passed. However, the bill was significantly weakened in the House.

Reimbursements for solar power generation (SB 355 and HB 801 – Pinsky/McHale)

Improves our net metering law, requiring utilities to pay for excess power generated by solar power or other on-site generators.  Passed.

Comprehensive energy plan (HB 522 and SB 910 – Manno, Hecht/Lenett)

Would create a comprehensive energy plan for the state. Not brought up for a vote in committee. However, Gov. O’Malley is now considering action based on this legislation.

Clean energy loans (SB 720/HB 1014 – Middleton/Hecht)

Would help property owners afford clean energy projects. Not brought up for a vote in committee.

Energy saving televisions (SB 455/HB 349 – Pinsky/Carr)

Would create an energy efficiency standard for televisions. Rejected by the House Economic Matters Committee.

Long-term clean energy in Maryland (SB 558/HB 1224 – Pinsky/Hucker)

Would establish long-term contracts for clean energy.  Rejected by Senate Finance Committee.

Green buildings for state-funded construction (SB 215/HB 1040 – Frosh/Bronrott)

Would establish green building standards for state-funded buildings. Not brought up for a vote in committee.

Green buildings for community colleges (SB 234/HB 1044 – Robey/Bronrott)

Establishes green building standards for community colleges. Passed.

Energy use disclosure (SB 952/HB 1291 – Conway/McIntosh)

Would require disclosure of building energy use at time of sale. Rejected by House Environmental Matters Committee.

Energy accounting in public buildings (SB 713/HB 985 – Lenett/Hecht)

Would require energy use benchmarking of public buildings. Rejected by Senate Finance Committee.

Biofuels (SB 569/HB 827 – Middleton/Hubbard)

Would encourage market expansion of biofuels.  Voted down by Economic Matters Committee.


Bay fund – The Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund will receive $22.5 million.

POS – Program Open Space funding was not diverted, although $4 million was taken from MALPF.

Clean energy – Energy efficiency funding from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative will continue to be diverted in fiscal year 2012.

Law clinic – Lawmakers used the budget process to intimidate the University of Maryland Environmental Law Clinic in retaliation for a lawsuit against Perdue.

Chesapeake Bay

Stormwater regulations – Regulations passed to roll back Maryland’s Stormwater Management Act of 2007.

Stormwater management funding bill (SB 686/HB 999 – Raskin/Hucker)

Would create a dedicated funding source via small fees on utility bills to offset a backlog of urban stormwater management projects. Not brought up for a vote in committee.

Oyster poaching (SB 342/HB 1191 – Frosh/McIntosh)

Would crack down on illegal harvesting of oysters. Killed by a poison pill amendment in the Senate that would prevent oyster sanctuary expansion.

Human waste discharges from boats (SB 513/HB 1257 – Gansler)

Would prohibit direct discharge of waste from boats. Passed by the Senate, but held by the House Environmental Matters Committee.

Disposal of toxic coal ash (SB 653/HB 1467 – Lenett/Stein)

Would prevent toxic pollution from coal ash dump sites. Passed by the House, but held by the Senate Education, Health & Environmental Affairs Committee.

Arsenic in chicken feed (SB 859/HB 953 – Pinsky/Hucker)

Would ban arsenic-laden additives from chicken feed. Not brought up for a vote in committee.

Pesticide and fertilizer reporting (SB 359/HB 930 – Lenett/Frush)

Would require reporting of pesticide and fertilizer usage. Rejected by the Senate Education, Health & Environmental Affairs Committee.


Plastic bag use (SB 462/HB 351 – Raskin/Carr)

Would reduce plastic bag litter by creating a fee on single-use bags. Rejected by Senate Finance Committee.

Apartment recycling (SB 156 – Brochin)

Would require recycling at apartment buildings. Rejected by the Senate Education, Health & Environmental Affairs Committee.

Recycling in bars (HB 944 – Niemann and Carter)

Would require recycling at bars and restaurants. Not brought up for a vote in committee.

Maryland Legislative is Over, What Happened?

Filed under: environment,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 6:23 pm
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I want to post an e-mail I just got from the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, which alludes to some of the struggles and silver linings for the environment that came out of the Maryland legislative session in Annapolis.  They also have a link on their webpage which gives a useful wrap-up of the session.  Earlier today, I received an e-mail from Environment Maryland with similar sentiments.  That one is posted below the MDLCV one.

2010 Legislative Session — What Happened?

Dear Matt,

The Maryland General Assembly adjourned last night. A few days ago, Maryland LCV was ready to declare this session a washout. But as the final bells rang, closing out the session last night, there were some losses and a few things to celebrate.

The General Assembly was strong on the budget, including $22.5 million for the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Costal Bays Trust Fund and preserving most of the funding for Program Open Space (with the help of a strong last minute push by Governor O’Malley and Speaker Busch.)  With the help of Senate President Miller, legislators passed a bill ensuring that Maryland’s transportation decisions improve our quality of life.
Unfortunately, neither chamber passed bills to create a funding stream for much needed stormwater management projects or tried to stop the diversion of energy efficiency funds, both issues that we will be addressing in 2011.

Read our full 2010 Environmental Legislative Wrap-up online now.

Want to hear the inside story? We are holding two conference calls this Wednesday at noon and 7 pm to summarize what happened behind the scenes in Annapolis during the 2010 session. RSVP to receive the call in number.

Thank you for all your work this session, your emails, phone calls, visits, and attendance at the environmental summit helped us pass laws to protect our air land and water. We couldn’t have done it without you! Stay tuned for our 2010 General Assembly Scorecard in June.

And remember, 2010 is an important election year and Maryland LCV will be there working to elect pro-conservation candidates—we look forward to it and hope you will join us!

Donate today and help us protect Maryland’s future.

Thank you for making your voice heard,

Cindy Schwartz
Executive Director
Maryland LCV Education Fund


Hi Matt,

I breathed a sigh of relief last night, when this year’s session of the Maryland General Assembly came to a close at midnight. It was a whirlwind year, and the budget was clearly our biggest fight.

Halfway through the session, it looked like the environment was going to suffer losses across the board. But in the end, the House and Senate came through on many of our priorities. In particular, we were pleased that legislators chose not to divert funds from Program Open Space — this would not have happened without the strong support of Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Please thank the governor for maintaining funds for land preservation:

Outside the budget, our top legislative priorities were bills regarding transportation and solar power.

The transportation bill, which passed yesterday, steers state money into projects that will reduce our global warming pollution and are consistent with Maryland’s smart growth goals.

And, of the numerous solar power bills we supported, two passed through the Legislature. One of these bills increases the percentage of electricity that utility companies must draw from solar resources. Another requires utilities to pay customers for the surplus power they generate from solar panels.

You can see the complete rundown of our 2010 legislative priorities, and how they fared. [1]

And again, please remember to thank our governor!

Thanks again for making it all possible.


Brad Heavner
Environment Maryland State Director

P.S. Thanks again for your support. Please feel free to share this e-mail with your family and friends.


April 22, 2009

Action Alert: Over 2,000 in DC Tmo and Friday

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 9:20 pm
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Lobbyists trying to stop the climate bill that is.

$450 million: Amount spent on lobbying and political contributions by
opponents of global warming action in 2008.

52: public spokespersons engaged by polluters and the ideological
right to spread disinformation about global warming online and in the

2,340: Number of paid lobbyists working in Washington on climate
change in 2008.

7 in 8: Proportion of climate lobbyists advocating against climate

$45 million: Amount spent on global warming denial advertising by the
coal industry in 2008.


As I’ve said before, there is a climate bill being considered in Congress right now, which you can read more about here.  I think the people should have a say too.  Google your Congressman’s name, and give their office a call saying you want them to support the Waxman-Markey climate bill.  Write a letter to the editor supporting Congress to cap carbon and help spark the shift to a clean energy economy.  The best thing though, is to just show up.  Below is an opportunity for people to have their voice heard inside the halls of Congress.  These kinds of activities are also going on Friday in the same place, although the big push is Thursday.  If the above numbers indicate anything, it’s that we all need to find a way to have our voice heard on this one.  2 million votes beats 2,000 lobbyists.  


RSVP to or the Facebook event

What: This Thursday’s Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Capitol Hill

Who: The representatives debating the specifics to include in the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, Lobbyists for the utility companies and some of the biggest polluters, testifying before the committee and asking that the permits to pollute be given away to them for free, and hundreds of young people like us reminding the representatives that this is not an option and it is not what we voted them into office to do.

When: Thursday, April 23rd @ 8AM – The hearings are happening all week, but we want to focus our energy when the oil/coal lobbies are presenting. I know 8am is early but if we want to get into the actual hearing room we need to arrive early because the corporate lobbyists paid “supporters” will be sure to get there early to receive the cash.

Where: Rayburn House Office building, Room 2123 (Click here for a map)

Why: At Power Shift, we flooded the halls of congress for the biggest clean energy lobby day in history to demand bold climate legislation for a more sustainable future.  We told our representatives what we wanted and they heard us, but will they follow through?  This is a chance to show congress that we mean business – our mere presence on the Hill will speak volumes. Come get in the hearing, call constituents in the home districts of those members on committee, pay a visit to their offices, and be outside the office building to rally.

RSVP to or the Facebook event

Questions?  Contact Ethan:, 202-631-1992

April 9, 2009

Cap and Dividend

Filed under: Climate Change — Matt Dernoga @ 4:43 pm
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I made a post a couple weeks ago about how House Democrats Waxman and Markey had introduced a comprehensive draft climate bill which had some strengths and weaknesses. That bill’s mechanism for reducing emissions was “cap and trade”.   Another Congressman Chris Van Hollen just introduced a “cap and dividend” bill. Some people are familiar with what cap and trade bill is. This is what most lawmakers in Congress are familiar with. Very few politicians or people have any idea what cap and dividend is. A lot of people probably have no idea what either term means. I’m going to try and give a quick explanation of what both mean, and explain how cap and dividend is different, better, and worse than cap and trade. This website also has a good deal of information on cap and dividend.

So cap and trade is where you place a ceiling on how much carbon can be emitted, and sell “permits” to polluters that each represent a certain quantity of carbon. To give a very bland example….lets say all the coal plants in Maryland emit 100 tons of carbon a year. A cap and trade bill holds the line at 100 tons, and sells permits for each ton of carbon to all the coal companies for a certain price, lets say 1 million dollars a permit. Now we’ve got a pot of money which can be used to invest in cleaner technologies, or give it back to consumers to offset higher electricity prices, or both. The coal companies now have permits to pollute. Next year, the government sells the coal companies 99 permits apiece instead of 100. If you go over the limit of 99, you pay a steep price. We’ve just reduced emissions by 1% assuming the coal plants adhere to the rules, and it’s in their interest to do so even if its a little more expensive. The government gets another pot of money, and can once again decide how much to invest in technology, or how much to give back to people. The “trade” part of cap and trade comes into play too. Lets say one coal company invests in new technology and reduces emissions by more than the 1% required. They don’t need all 99 permits, maybe they need 95. They can sell those extra 4 permits for a profit to dirtier companies so they can pollute. This creates a competitive incentive for companies to try and reduce emissions. It’s almost like an manufactured free market for the right to pollute.

Cap and dividend is much simpler. Instead of regulating the emissions when they are burned, fossil fuels are regulated when they are extracted from the ground. So if I’m a coal company, I pay a certain charge when I take the coal out of the ground. When the permit for extracting that coal is issued, theres a price attached that reflects the price of carbon. This price of these permits are adjusted to make sure carbon emissions are capped, and then there a fewer and fewer permits to extract carbon from the ground each year, so the permits get more expensive. The other difference is that the pot of money we get from the sold permits all goes back to Americans in equal checks each year to ease the crunch of higher energy prices.

So which is better? Well the director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network Mike Tidwell in the video below thinks cap and dividend is best. I actually favor cap and trade. I think a lot of the money the government gets from the permits should go back to the public, but I don’t think it should be 100% like cap and dividend does. I think some of the money needs to go into investing in substitutes for the fossil fuels we are pricing out of the market. Critics of cap and trade say it can get too confusing and the polluters can take advantage of it by getting free permits, avoiding regulation etc. However, this is only the case if the bill is poorly written or if polluters have a large say in what the bill looks like. A cap and dividend bill could get just as muddled down by skeptical politicians and their polluter allies. Although cap and dividend might be simpler, most people and politicians aren’t familiar with it. It’s already been tough enough getting Congress and the public to wrap their heads around cap and trade. In my opinion it would be hitting the restart button to have to go through all the nuances of a cap and dividend bill. I say we should stick with what our politicians are familiar with and not confuse them.

Ultimately though, it’s not so much whether you do cap and trade, or cap and dividend, or a carbon tax, or something else. What matters is whether the bill has strong targets, makes smart investments with the money it raises, and is enforceable. I would take a strong cap and dividend bill over a weak cap and trade bill, and vice versa. Chris Van Hollen’s cap and dividend bill is narrowly stronger with targets than the cap and trade bill Markey and Waxman introduced, and doesn’t have anything bad attached to it yet like funding for clean coal and carbon offsets. However, I don’t think it has a very good chance of passing, whereas Markey and Waxman’s bill do.

Hopefully this cleared something up. Enjoy the video below in case you want another explanation

February 22, 2009

Climate Bill Coming This Year

Filed under: Climate Change,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 11:38 am
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There have been a lot of conflicting pieces of information about when a climate bill is going to be coming to a vote in each chamber of Congress.   Earlier reports seemed to indicate that the consensus coming from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Chair of the Environmental and Public Works Committee Barbara Boxer that we would have to wait until early 2010 for such a bill.  Regardless of the politics, it’s of my opinion that the US needs to take a whack at this legislation this year, and I had my rationale in a column last semester: here

However, over the past couple weeks, this seems to have turned on it’s head thanks to the new chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee in the House, Henry Waxman has been very vocal about having a bill marked up and out of committee before Memorial Day.  Pelosi appears to have
followed his lead(or maybe it was the other way around?) and is promising the first vote ever on the floor of the house for a climate bill this year.  On the Senate side, Barbara Boxer said at first she didn’t think there would be a bill this year, but deferred to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  Reid appears to have trumped Boxer: here, planning for Senate action by the end of the summer.

So there is a very high chance there will be a vote on a climate bill this year by both chambers of Congress.   At a later date I have a post on my recommendations for how environmental groups do the seemingly impossible.                                                                                                                                                                                                     

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