As the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) of 2009 continues its way through the House now that it has been voted out of the Energy and Commerce Committee, a number of groups are examining who the potential supporters and opponents of the bill might be. An obvious (perhaps too obvious) choice are the folks “in the middle” – folks who might vote either way on the bill. Or the way I view things – folks who are going to hold critical legislation hostage until their special interest masters get what they want out of bill negotiations and amendments. The real issue is who will have their operations restricted the most? Again, an obvious answer is available: those who pollute the most. As devilstower wrote 10 or so days ago, the U.S. isn’t carbon flat. What that means is that there are some locations in this country that overwhelmingly contribute to greenhouse gas pollution. Those locations will, of course, face the most necessary action to come into line with future pollution limits. A recently published paper examines the distribution of carbon emissions across the U.S. Here is one of their findings:
The variation in intensity of carbon emissions is extreme. Across 1,559 counties with at least 25,000 residents in 2002, the average carbon emissions per capita was 7.66 tons but with a median of 3.28 tons and a standard deviation of 16.9 tons.
For those not intimately familiar with statistical measurements, the standard deviation of a variable isn’t supposed to be five times as large as the median value. One standard deviation away from the median yields a range of -13.62 to 20.18 tons. That tells us that while there are plenty of low emitters, there are also a large number of very large emitters. There are very, very large carbon emitters if you consider the 2nd deviation value of 37.08 tons. That’s about five times the average – which in the large picture isn’t good news. Those emitters need to reduce those emission rates. Which is where we get to the ‘Carbon 9′ – a group of 9 Representatives in the House whose votes on ACES might or might not affect its ultimate passage in the House.