The Week That Was
August 5, 2000


With the political conventions of national parties about to start, we thought to draft a platform plank on Global Warming and offer it free of charge to all platform committees. Will Ralph Nader bite on it? We don't think so…

The Week That Was August 5, 2000 brought to you by SEPP

Apropos our recent false virus alarm, here is amends:

"You have just received the "Honor Virus"
This virus works on the honor system. Please delete all the files from your hard drive and manually forward this virus to everyone on your mailing list.
Thanks for your cooperation."

And talking about viruses…


And we are having such a cold summer. NY is spraying against mosquitoes with exotic pesticides, abandoning Malathion after last year's enviro protests. But several groups have already filed lawsuits. Last year, seven died; if there are more deaths, public opinion may turn against the enviros.


European Union ministers recently announced that countries would face financial penalties unless greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets are met. Negotiations will take place later this year to determine the rules for complying with the Kyoto Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol mandates that industrialized countries cut GHG emissions, specifically carbon dioxide (CO2), by an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by between 2008 and 2012. Right now, concern for how this commitment is going to be enforced is mounting among international officials. The penalty for non-compliance will be decided by the parties to the United Nations climate change convention COP-6 in The Hague in November.

In a recent statement after a meeting in Luxembourg, the ministers said that the EU is searching for a compliance regime that will discourage non-compliance and will compensate for damage to the Environment. The compliance regime will include fines for non-compliance, with the money collected through fines to be paid into a fund to support projects to reduce GHG emissions.

Officials said the negotiations are difficult because the United States and other countries are pushing for a less stringent approach to emissions reductions.


UPI (June 28, 2000) reports that the proposal setting aside billions of dollars in federal grant money to pay power plants to cut pollution was developed with the assistance of a Gore adviser who also works for large power companies.

Gore spokesman Douglas Hattaway acknowledged that the energy proposal was drafted with the assistance of Kathleen McGinty, a former Gore staffer and past chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. McGinty said she serves as an "informal" adviser to the Gore campaign on energy and environment issues.

McGinty was dispatched to by the campaign to brief environmentalists on the plan in the days before the vice president unveiled it. But McGinty also works for Troutman Sanders, a law firm that represents several major U.S. power companies, a group that includes some of nation's largest sources of air pollution. Two of those clients -- American Electric Power and Southern Company -- confirmed that McGinty is one of their consultants on environmental issues. [Ohio-based American Electric Power and Atlanta-based Southern Company both operate large, coal-fired power plants, and were both litigants in the effort to derail the new EPA standards, which they claimed were too costly to implement.] As for her role at Troutman Sanders, McGinty said, "I am a policy adviser to the firm. I help the firm think through where various environmental policy currents are going."
For the campaign, "I was doing some outreach last week to members of environmental community. I also have spoken to people in the business sector and utilities, drawing forward their ideas and keeping them connected to the broad themes of the campaign," McGinty said.


Gore's new proposal would create an "Energy Security and Environment Trust," setting aside $68 billion of the budget surplus to finance clean energy projects by power companies, such as new technologies for cleaner-burning coal-fired power plants.

The vice president said his plan "will offer a menu of financial mechanisms such as tax incentives, loans, grants, bonds, or other financial instruments to those power plants and industries that come forward with projects that promise to dramatically reduce climate and health-threatening pollution."
These incentives would be available to companies such as AEP, Southern and handful of other Troutman Sanders clients in the power industry, including Illinois Power, Dayton Power and Light and the Edison Electric Institute, a trade association of major private power companies. Gore announced the initiative at a Philadelphia power plant owned by Trigen, a company known for its innovative energy projects. Trigen is also a Troutman Sanders client.

But Philip E. Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust, was more skeptical. "Incentive plans are fine, but it is essential that the Clean Air Act be strengthened with clear standards to guarantee that Americans are protected from the serious health problems caused by air pollution, like the rise in rates of childhood asthma," Clapp said.

Many environmentalists have endorsed legislation offered by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Sen. James Jeffords, R-Vt., that would set new limits on emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, mercury and carbon dioxide, the four primary pollutants of concern emitted by power plants.
Carbon dioxide a pollutant of concern? Sounds like yet another attempt to sneak in the Kyoto Protocol against the express wishes of the Senate


Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader is wooing the Sierra Cub and Friends of the Earth (which federal law permits to endorse candidates). According to Inside EPA, FOE alleges that Gores campaign staff threatened to deny them access to the White House and policy discussions with top environmental officials under a Gore administration if they do not support his campaign. (In the primary race, FOE supported Gore opponent Bill Bradley.)

Apparently, threats do work. The Sierra Club has decided to endorse Gore. He is now wooing Friends of the Earth, which endorsed his rival Bradley earlier.



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