Federal City Digest

Federal City Digest

(By Gregory Shaver -- Associated Press)
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Friday, February 6, 2009

Higher Energy Standards

President Obama dropped by the Energy Department yesterday and, when he wasn't plugging his stimulus plan, highlighted a directive to issue new energy efficiency standards for common household and commercial appliances, our colleague Steven Mufson reports.

"This will save consumers money, this will spur innovation, and this will conserve tremendous amounts of energy," Obama said. "We'll save through these simple steps over the next 30 years the amount of energy produced over a two-year period by all the coal-fired power plants in America."

In fact, the administration is required to issue new standards for 15 product categories by June 2011 as a result of a consent decree signed by the Bush administration to settle a lawsuit brought by states and environmental groups upset with President George W. Bush's failure to update standards.

"It's not so much a specific action as a direction," said Lane Burt, energy policy analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists. "The past administration only did what it really had to do according to the law and in some cases missed those deadlines. What he's saying is we're not going to be a laggard in this area anymore."

Follow the Money

The Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) instituted under former president Bush allocated up to $700 billion for the purchase or insurance of troubled, and in some cases toxic, assets. Where has all that money gone? The Pew Charitable Trusts is keeping track. Launched in mid-December, the group's SubsidyScope tracks the disbursement of funds on a bank-by-bank basis: http://www.subsidyscope.com/projects/bailout/tarp.

Moving In . . .

Russlynn Ali, vice president of the Education Trust, an organization that promotes academic achievement among low-income and minority students, is Obama's nominee to become assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education, our colleague Philip Rucker reports. Trained as a lawyer, Ali has experience at an array of nonprofit organizations and public education systems and will move to the District from the Bay Area.

WHAT TO WATCH

· What with Obama's simultaneous invocations of the Great Depression and push for an economic stimulus bill, Google AdSense yesterday morning started serving ads for bipolar medications on one blog covering his statements. Take it as a hint before listening in on the Joint Economic Committee hearing on "The Employment Situation: January 2009," with Bureau of Labor Statistics Commissioner Keith Hall at 9:30 a.m. analyzing the monthly employment trends. Mood stabilizers optional.

· Obama meets with relatives of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and USS Cole bombing to discuss his decision to shut down the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. [Story, A3]

· Vice President Biden once again takes the point on foreign affairs, heading to Germany in the afternoon to attend the 45th Munich Conference on Security Policy. In the morning, he addresses House Democrats at their Virginia retreat.

· At 10 a.m., the Senate intelligence committee kicks off its second day of hearings with Leon E. Panetta, above, on his nomination to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency. At yesterday's hearing, Panetta confirmed that Stephen R. Kappes would remain the deputy CIA director, calling him "a full partner," and promised he would keep Congress well informed if he were confirmed. A vote on his nomination is not expected until next week. [Story, A2]

-- Garance Franke-Ruta Federalcity@washpost.com


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