Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Why Not Act Already?

Amidst all the recent talk of scandal and conflict and endless "crisis", we've yet to see Congress act on the greatest global security crisis of our time. In addition, we've yet to see what President Obama plans to do on climate change if Congress still can't act. But now, that's about to change. The White House may finally act soon.

The Obama administration is considering a sweeping initiative to address climate change, including the first-ever limits on carbon dioxide from power plants, the country's biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The White House has yet to settle on specific measures, but "we're hearing that existing power plants are definitely in the mix," said a person with knowledge of the deliberations, who, like others, asked not to be identified to talk about White House discussions. An announcement could come by mid-July.

Power plants account for about a third of the country's greenhouse gas emissions, with most of the carbon dioxide coming from coal-fired plants and, to a lesser extent, natural gas generation. Issuing rules to curtail their pollution would almost certainly touch off a battle in the courts and Congress."

There are only a few substantive, meaningful actions the administration can take short of dealing with existing power plants," said S. William Becker, executive director of the National Assn. of Clean Air Agencies, a group of local and state air pollution regulators. "So I'd be extremely surprised if existing power plants weren't one of the top priorities the administration is pursuing."

As long as we've been delaying action on the climate crisis, we've been losing precious time and making necessary change more costly and difficult than it has to be. Perhaps that’s what President Obama has been thinking about lately. If we are to have any chance at future survival, we must act on the climate crisis... And do so very soon.

And then, there's this. Surprise, surprise. Investment in tomorrow's energy pays off.

On Thursday, the Center for American Progress released a newreport that outlines plan for jobs, business, and a growing economy called “300 Million Engines of Growth.”

It notes that climate change’s “costs to businesses, families, and government are often hidden but are becoming less so.” The report goes on to detail ways in which climate solutions “offer massive new economic opportunities.” Just as important, any infrastructure investments should reflect the impact of the consequences of climate change like extreme weather and climate change.

Transitioning from an energy system reliant on energy that gets more expensive as we use it up, to one that gets cheaper the more we use it is a winner for the economy:

"The United States is dependent on imported foreign oil, is subject to volatile energy prices, and is starting to face the high costs of climate change. Each of these pressures creates a drag on economic growth. In 2012 roughly 6 percent of our electricity came from renewables, and the United States imported $313 billion in oil. Our country must capture the multitrillion-dollar opportunity of clean energy by stimulating demand, ensuring effective financing, building efficient transmission infrastructure, and prioritizing efficiency. Our goal is for the United States to have clean, sustainable, and economical energy sources — quadrupling renewable use between 2008 and 2020 and slashing oil imports in half — in order to fuel economic growth."

As we know very well right here in Nevada, going green earns us green. So why wait any longer? Why not act already?

Our fossil fuel addiction is already costing us dearly. And the promise of a lean, mean, clean, and green super machine of a healthier economy won't ever materialize if we don't act soon. So why wait any longer? Why not act already?

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