Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step


March 24, 2009

March 23rd, 2009: A Good Day For the World

Category: Climate Change,Policy – Tom Harrison – 9:36 am

News like yesterday’s is welcome amidst a sea of recent bad tidings — there was a lot of good news, but the most important for the world was an announcement by the EPA.

Sure, the stock market rose 500 points. But that’s only the mercurial stock market.

Yes, some of AIG’s lucky lottery winners bonus recipients have relinquished their ill-gotten gains. But that’s a (mere) $80M or so.

Yes, another $75M of Madoff’s ill-gotten gains have been identified, bringing the total to near $1B. But that’s less that 2% of the ultimate charlatan’s loot.

Yes, Mr. Geithner, recently down on his luck seems to have struck the proper nerve to stimulate our flagging banking system. But that’s … ok, well, if it sticks, this one’s pretty significant. But only in the context of, as my Mom calls it “The Winter of Our Discontent”. All in all, a pretty good news day.

But of all the news I read today, by far the most important bit was that Greenhouse Gasses (GHGs) will (finally once again) be considered a pollutant by our Environmental Protection Agency.

Today’s News: We Will Enforce The Law, Not Subvert It

King George II, our (thankfully now) former leader was the cause of most of these problems.

There are so many, but (to follow the Shakespeare theme), “let me count the ways.” Perhaps not, as I wouldn’t want to write a book here, but of all the many ways he cast a pox upon us, the one stuck most deeply in my craw was the pure, evil, virulent, and persistent repudiation of the mission of the EPA, and then of our Supreme Court.

To summarize: for a long time, the Bush Administration denied the facts of climate change, with the enthusiastic support of the Environmental Plundering Agency (EPA). Indeed, in 2003, Bush reversed the prior law passed in 1998 which classified CO2 as a pollutant.

The law is significant because the Clean Air Act provides some rather clear rules on how a pollutant may be regulated. Let’s just say that such a finding is not exactly favorable to industries selling oil, gas, coal, beef, cars, and … well, pretty much any other of the constituency of the Bush presidency. OK, that’s not fair — the evangelicals really didn’t have a strong position on this issue, and indeed, kind of came out on the right (left?) side of things after all.

Environmental groups fought the EPA (if that statement alone doesn’t make your head spin, I don’t know what will) and four years later, the Supreme Court ruled that CO2 was indeed a pollutant. Ah, but it didn’t end there.

And then, nothing happened — time passed. Then the Supreme Court ordered the Bush Administration to take action. And, in a rather unexpected turn of events, Bush’s EPA reported that GHG’s were (surprise!) a pollutant. Indeed, the report suggested that there were significant economic benefits associated with embracing the law. Go figure. And, the EPA sent its findings to the White House. By email.

But those (activist) judges of the Supreme Court didn’t expect that the White House would simply … not open the email. Nope, the EPA sent their report to the White House, and they just didn’t open their mail. (Maybe the EPA should have used registered mail. Just a thought.)

And the Times article from June 25th, 2008 reported:

White House pressure to ignore or edit the E.P.A.’s climate-change findings led to the resignation of one agency official earlier this month: Jason Burnett, the associate deputy administrator. Mr. Burnett, a political appointee with broad authority over climate-change regulations, said in an interview that he had resigned because “no more constructive work could be done” on the agency’s response to the Supreme Court.

He added, “The next administration will have to face what this one did not.”

Oh, but Bush was not quite done. In a memo dates December 18th, the EPA administrator “interpreted” the law, finding that actually coal plants and other polluters didn’t need to do anything.

In a war against the environment that has lasted almost as long as the war against terrorism, the Bush Administration made their final desperate act.

It’s Not Over Yet, But It Will Be Soon

I am happy to hear that it didn’t take long for the next administration to face the issue. Lisa P. Jackson, our new EPA administrator has the ball and is running with it.

In truth, the ruling that GHGs are pollutants is only a “big stick”.

What is most significant, in my view, is that this law provides a crucial backing for a cap-and-trade program. Companies that emit GHGs now have an incentive to support cap-and-trade legislation — the alternative is an expensive legal battle with the US Government via the EPA, one the polluter would probably lose.

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