I’m sure you’re getting as tired reading my diatribes on energy policy as I am writing them, but I can’t seem to help myself. Spurred on by Environmental Defense, I sent this note to my Congressional representatives.
After Congress’s August recess, there will be fewer than two months left in the legislative calendar to pass meaningful global warming legislation, which both the House & Senate leadership publicly set as a goal for 2007.
Forget Renewable Energy Standards. Forget CAFE standards. Forget ethanol initiatives. Forget nuclear power subsidies. These narrow energy policy efforts are not only too heavy-handed & blunderingly interventionist, they are too limited in scope to significantly impact our emissions of greenhouse gases, which should be reduced by 75%-90% over the coming decades to prevent projected 1-3 degree Celsius increases in global mean temperatures by the end of the century and the likely climate-related crises that may ensue. Congress must stop wasting time ineffectively micromanaging the country with such token half-measures. Instead, Congress must adopt a sound macro-economic policy to address the issue.
First, it must gradually phase-out subsidies for the oil, coal, & natural gas industries so that alternative energy sources have a chance of being price competitive. This will have the double-benefit of decreasing the flow of American money to the Middle East that currently serves to support the price-fixing oligarchs of the region, & perhaps decreasing the chance our oil money coming back to haunt us in the form of terrorist attacks.
Second, Congress must launch an emissions-reduction program such a cap & trade CO2 market or a “carbon tax” that affects all sectors of the economy and begins to send the right signals to consumers & producers alike about the environmental costs of emitting greenhouse gases. Economic analysis shows that such a cost signal will both spark innovations in commercializing clean energy sources & give energy efficiency measures an economic pay-back, resulting in real reductions in our emissions.
Finally, Congress must take the money saved in eliminating fossil fuel subsidies & the money earned in carbon caps & give the bulk of it back to the taxpayers in tax-shifting maneuvers so we can afford to pay for efficiency measures & fund the emerging clean energy sources.
The remainder of the money should be put into sponsoring grants to promote research into promising sources of clean, renewable energy, such as solar, wind, tidal, & geothermal. Congress should not subsidize these energy sources: After it sets the ground rules through emissions caps, it should let the market decide which energy sources most efficiently serve our needs. However, it should fund basic research to jump-start the development of these energy sources, as regardless of the eventual impact of greenhouse gas emissions, we are nearing peak oil production and we will need clean alternatives to remain economically competitive & maintain our standard of living in the 21st century.
Please work to see that your legislative leaders continue to focus on energy policy & global warming, & that Congress drafts & passes effective legislation before the end of the 2007 Congressional session.