Alternative to president’s Clean Power Plan
Only Rip Van Winkle would have not seen it coming.
In his 2014 State of the Union address the president urged Congress to pursue a bipartisan market-based solution to climate change. In response to another year of inaction the president, on Aug. 3 announced the Clean Power Plan aimed at reducing our nation’s carbon footprint.
CO2, the EPA reports, is the most prevalent greenhouse gas pollutant accounting for almost three-fourths of global greenhouse gas emissions and 82 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. U.S. fossil fuel-fired power plants are the greatest source of our CO2 emissions making up 31 percent of our total greenhouse emissions.
The plan seeks to reduce CO2 emissions by requiring the improvement of the heat rate of existing coal-fired plants, an increase in generation from natural gas plants and increased generation from zero-emissions renewable sources such as wind and solar. EPA rules aim to reduce power plant CO2 emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2030.
For Republicans who clamor for a more market-based approach, a strong option is on the table. In June 2014, the Regional Economic Models Inc. (REMI) released a study examining the impact of a steadily rising fee on carbon-based fuel. Among their findings was that in 20 years, CO2 emissions would be reduced 50 percent below 1990 levels and that improved air quality would result in 230,000 premature deaths being avoided over 20 years.
Republican politicians are nearly unanimous in their opposition to the Clean Power Plan. They continue to criticize it for its potential to raise people’s energy bills and to cost the economy jobs.
Carbon fee and dividend, notes the REMI report, would add 2.2 million jobs in the first 10 years. The increased fee for carbon fuels would be returned directly to American families. This would not only allow families to afford their increased energy bills, but the additional money spent would boost the economy.
The REMI study employs a boarder tariff on imports from countries that do not apply a carbon pricing mechanism thus leveling the playing field for American businesses. George Schultz, Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan, has endorsed this plan.
A market-based plan would provide a clear market signal that would stimulate investment in alternative energies as well as provide incentives to increase energy efficiency. Instead of Republicans calling for the Clean Power Plan to be challenged by Congress and the courts, the country and future generations would be far better served by them getting behind carbon fee and dividend legislation.
No, Chicken Little, the sky is not falling but neither is rain in some parts of the world. California, arguably the richest food-producing area in the world, has lost 30 percent of its cropland due to drought. The U.K.-U.S. Taskforce on Extreme Weather and Global Food System Resilience reports that the once-a-century massive food disruptions might now happen every 30 years
Nor are temperatures falling. NOAA reports that July was the hottest on record since record keeping began in 1880. To claim, as some members of Congress do, that global temperatures have been flat for 15 years is a data cherry-picking ploy that a middle school math student would find amusing.