Thursday, July 23, 2009

N.D. Could Be the Badlands for Cap and Trade. And: "North Dakota, engine of US growth?"

In particular N.D.'s (barely, three weeks) junior Senator, Byron Dorgan is a heavyweight. From the Senator's website:
...Senator Dorgan is a member of four Senate standing committees and fourteen subcommittees, in addition to being the chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee....
Committee on Appropriations
  • Subcommittee on Energy and Water, Chairman
  • Subcommittee on Agriculture and Rural Development
  • Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science
  • Subcommittee on Defense
  • Subcommittee on Interior
  • Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development
Committee on Energy & Natural Resources
  • Subcommittee on Energy
  • Subcommittee on National Parks
  • Subcommittee on Water and Power
Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
  • Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security, Chairman
  • Subcommittee on Communications and Technology
  • Subcommittee on Competitiveness, Innovation and Export Promotion
  • Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance
  • Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security
Democratic Policy Committee
From ClimateWire via the New York Times:
The fate of major climate legislation in Congress could rest with North Dakota.

The sparsely populated state in the upper Midwest, noted for its badlands and bone-chilling winters, wields as much clout as regions three times its size in the global warming debate. Its two Democratic senators possess crucial swing votes on Capitol Hill.

Sens. Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad also sit on several of the committees that are holding court on the just-passed climate bill from the House.

"In the march to 60 [votes], losing the two North Dakotans could be what tips the balance on negative side," said Chelsea Maxwell, an analyst at the Clark Group and a former climate adviser to now-retired Sen. John Warner (R-Va.). "They have a state that is not only uniquely situated but represents what everyone seems to need on climate. You have coal and you have agriculture."

Yet gaining the support of either one is turning out to be a challenging quest for Democrats searching for the magical 60 votes in the U.S. Senate to stop a filibuster. Meanwhile, advocates for capping greenhouse gases are swinging back at the two North Dakotans in blogs and newspaper editorials.

In a just-published op-ed in the Bismarck Tribune, Dorgan says "cap-and-trade is the wrong solution and I don't support it." He expresses concerns about the potential for wild speculation on Wall Street if such a trading system is established and lays out the energy needs of his state, which contains a unique mix of coal, oil and gas reserves and wind resources.

Those comments followed a lengthy floor speech on July 16 criticizing the House legislation co-sponsored by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.). He urged the Senate to take up a bill passed by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee as an alternative, since it would spur renewable energy development without the complications of a new carbon trading market.

Visions of 'unbelievable speculation'

"Do we want to sign up for a future in which we consign our ability to constrain carbon and protect this planet by creating a carbon securities market that, in my judgement, would likely subject us to the same vision of the last decade with unbelievable speculation?" he asked....MORE
And from Tuesday's FT Alphaville:

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia (the Philly Fed) has released its “monthly coincident indices” for June, showing the economic conditions in each of the 50 US states.

47 states showed declining activity over a three-month period, while on a 1-month basis, activity decreased in 46 states (and was unchanged in one).
From the release:

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia has released the coincident indexes for the 50 states for June 2009. In the past month, the indexes increased in three states (Mississippi, North Dakota, and Vermont), decreased in 46, and remained unchanged in one (North Carolina) for a one-month diffusion index of -86. Over the past three months the indexes increased in two states (Mississippi and North Dakota), decreased in 47, and remained unchanged in one (Montana) for a three-month diffusion index of -90. For comparison purposes, the Philadelphia Fed has also developed a similar coincident index for the entire United States. The Philadelphia Fed’s U.S. index fell by 0.3 percent in June and by 1.0 percent over the past three months.

And visually (click to enlarge):

Philly Fed Coincident Indices for June 09 (small)