Environment & Energy Report

ALL ABOUT: Incoming Democrats to Watch on Climate

Jan. 3, 2019, 3:45 PM

Climate is poised to take center stage as Democrats take over the House—but high-profile Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez isn’t the only newcomer with climate ideas.

Here are a few other incoming Democrats to watch:

Sean Casten (6th District of Illinois): A biochemical engineer whose father advised former President Bill Clinton on the Kyoto global climate treaty, Casten co-founded a company in 2007 that captures waste energy to reuse it for power to reduce greenhouse gases.

He sees a bipartisan opportunity to update a controversial EPA air pollution permitting program called new source review, which requires industry sources to get a permit if they undergo new construction or make changes that increase air pollution. Casten said the program’s modification provision is too closely linked to a facility’s output, discouraging investments in energy efficiency.

“It would be a really easy change to simply say the major modification section will not apply if, and only if, your increase in output is not coupled with an increase in fuel use,” Casten said.

That change could lead to cheaper energy costs and lower carbon emissions, he said.

Mike Levin (49th District of California): An environmental attorney, Levin founded a trade group in 2009 for clean-tech companies in Orange County.

He hopes the new Congress can cast a wide policy net on climate change and see what catches.

“I think what we have to do is lay out a menu of options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase renewable energy penetration on the grid and see how much support we can muster for each of those concepts,” Levin said.

His home state has both—a cap-and-trade program and a 100 percent clean energy standard, Levin said. But he said he thinks a good starting point in Congress will be market-driven policies that can appeal across the aisle.

Deb Haaland (1st District of New Mexico): To Haaland, a former chairwoman of New Mexico’s Democratic Party, reducing the greenhouse gas emissions blamed for a warming climate “is the issue of our time,”

Haaland wants to more heavily involve Energy Department national laboratories—especially her district’s Sandia National Laboratories—to work on solutions. She also wants Congress to enact a “gigantic” national infrastructure plan that emphasizes investment in the electricity grid to help renewables.

New Mexico ranked 17th in a SolarPowerRocks.com assessment in 2018 of all 50 states, but “with 310 days of sun per year, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be a renewable-energy leader,” she said.

This All About appeared in today’s First Move, which is delivered at 7:45 a.m. weekdays.

To contact the reporters on this story: Abby Smith in Washington at asmith@bloombergenvironment.com; Chuck McCutcheon in Washington at cmccutcheon@bloombergenvironment.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at ghenderson@bloombergenvironment.com; Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloombergenvironment.com

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