Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

EPA & CO2 Part 2 and Alaska Drilling News

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An article in yesterday’s Denver Post inspired me to write a follow-up to my diary about the EPA identifying 6 greenhouse gases as agents that “endanger public health and welfare” under the Clean Air Act.

We didn’t have to wait long for the response from the fossil fuel industry, which provided this choice quote:

“The proposed endangerment finding poses an endangerment to the American economy and every American family,” said Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute.

No Jack, it doesn’t. Your industry’s lack of foresight and greed-driven actions have endangered the American economy and every American family. Your industry decided not to build refining capacity, ensuring that Americans would suffer under horrendous price spikes, as we saw last year.

We’ve known for 30 years the potential dangers of allowing GHG pollutants to continue to be spewed into the atmosphere, but your industry ensured that little meaningful action be taken during that time to do anything about it. Now, tipping points are being crossed. Widespread, intense droughts are afflicting millions of acres of land worldwide. The globe’s average temperature continues to warm decade after decade. And still your industry is falsely arguing that no action should be taken, lest your members’ shareholders receive less than record profits quarter after quarter.

Republicans and some centrist Democrats have been critical of proposed cap-and-trade climate legislation, arguing it would lead to much higher energy prices. Such a measure could impose an economy-wide limit on greenhouse-gas emissions but let individual companies or plants trade emission allowances among one another to mitigate costs.

“Centrist” is a false characterization. Cap-and-trade, if enacted properly, will not lead to much higher energy prices. As subsidized dirty energy prices begin to reflect their true cost to society, clean energy will flourish and become cheaper. The problem today is clean energy companies don’t pour millions of dollars into elected officials’ campaigns. If they were able to, I’m sure we’d hear a much different tune from centrist corporatist Democrats.

I described in another post last week, What are the Costs of Acting Against Climate Change the McKinsey Global Institute’s summary finding:

The macroeconomic costs of this carbon revolution are likely to be manageable, being in the order of 0.6-1.4 percent of global GDP by 2030. […] Borrowing could potentially finance many of the costs, thereby effectively limiting the impact on near-term GDP growth. In fact, depending on how new low-carbon infrastructure is financed, the transition to a low-carbon economy may increase annual GDP growth in many countries.

Jack Gerard and other fossil fuelers don’t have a solution to our energy problem and climate crisis. Their prescription is more of the same policies that got us here in the first place. Like many Cons, they’re trying to use fear-based language to scare Americans into believing their propaganda. The American people loudly rejected that fear-based nonsense in November. They will have to reject it again and again in 2009, 2010 and beyond – the Cons will not give up on this issue easily.

I also wanted to draw a little attention to an environmental win:

A federal appeals court ruled Friday that the Bush administration did not properly study the environmental impacts of expanding oil and gas drilling off the Alaska coast and canceled a program to find new reserves.

I know, I know. The idea that the Bush “administration” didn’t conduct a proper scientific study about anything is just amazing, but I think we should just accept the appeals court’s decision in this matter. But seriously, I do applaud the court’s even-handed decision. Bush’s Interior Department, headed by some of the worst possible administrators, flagrantly failed to consider impacts on the environment by oil and gas leases in the Beaufort, Bering and Chukchi seas.

The good news now is the Obama Interior Department, headed by Sec. Salazar, has been ordered to determine environmental risks and potential damage before moving further with the leasing program. Now, that’s not to say that it’s a guarantee the gas and oil leases will be shut down. Unfortunately, we’re not likely to be that lucky. But I feel much more confident in the Salazar-led Interior Department to carefully and honestly consider the evidence that will be presented. Indeed, as Zappatero wrote last week, Salazar is the most impressive Interior Secretary we’ve had in a long time.

Cross-posted at SquareState.

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