[Update]: Here are some initial write-ups about the legislation – something to peruse until more specific commentary can be put together.
Daniel Weiss at Climate Progress
It’s still early in the process of passing climate legislation, but Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman today will finally introduce a draft bill to address our climate and energy crises: The American Power Act (S1733). As we saw with the health care insurance legislation that eventually made it through the Senate, a lot can happen to a bill after being introduced – including not passing at all, which is what has happened for decades. This is a prime example of science meshing with politics. As someone who has studied science and experienced politics, I can’t say I’m optimistic about either this bill’s chances of passing the Senate or this bill’s effects. I will continue by saying now that I sincerely hope I’m wrong on both counts. The survivability of our civilization and countless species across the globe largely depends on me being wrong.
With the bill being released to the public as of this afternoon, the analysis of the bill and comparison between it and the House version (ACES, H.R. 2454) which passed last summer can begin. As I view the climate crisis as the leading issue of our day (indeed, the leading issue of our generation and likely our species’ existence), I will have much more to say about its details, how debate alters it and whether it will or will not be passed by the entire Senate.
I think an argument can be made that given recent dirty energy-related disasters have occurred in the U.S., now could be the best time to really push progressive changes to the legislation. American’s attention will eventually turn away from the Massey mine explosion and the Gulf oil volcano. The climate crisis is simply a slower version of these kinds of disasters – all man-made and all similarly preventable by our actions. Thus I ask: Where is President Obama on this issue? Yes, there is a lot on his plate right now. But this culmination of events likely won’t occur together again for some time. As attention wanes, public pressure for short- and long-term climate and energy solutions will also likely decrease. The climate doesn’t care what the political will or pressure is within the U.S. It’s going to continue doing what it has been doing until physical balances are once again reached.
For now, a few links to materials that easily shatter the most likely myths that will be cited by the fringe right-wing to defeat this legislation.
McKinsey Global Institute’s June 2008 Carbon Productivity paper. This report addresses the “It will cost too much to implement anything” myth. See especially p.15 (Exhibit 5) which details how readily available cost savings are from a number of proposed activities. Many solutions pay for themselves quickly and many times over. Others have a higher cost, but even some of those costs will fall as larger economies of scale are exploited.
Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s October 2009 Energy Self-Reliant States report. The wind section was just updated this month. This paper addresses the “We have no choice but to continue to use dirty energy” myth. I’m not sure which of these two myths is more absurd. As this report demonstrates, Colorado is one of a number of states (mostly in the middle of the country) which has >1000% electricity self-sufficiency using combined clean energy sources (wind, solar, geothermal & hydro). Yes, you read that correctly: more than one-thousand percent. A majority of states have far more potential electricity potential available today with clean sources than they use from dirty sources.
And now, I have some reading to do…