Time to get serious about greenhouse gases

New greenhouse gas rules announced last week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency elicited howls of protest from the South and Midwest.

Governors and members of Congress from those states labeled the new rules “job-killers” and predicted economic disaster for their regions.

That prediction is contradicted by the facts.

In 2005, nine Northeastern states joined to reduce their carbon emissions.

Using a cap-and-trade system — an idea originally embraced by Republicans in the 1980s — those nine Northeastern states have since reduced carbon pollution by 40 percent while increasing their regional GDP by 7 percent.

Pollution down; economic activity up.

And that 7 percent increase occurred despite the worst recession since the 1930s. Imagine how much easier it will be for Southern and Midwestern states to meet the new standards with an expanding economy and in the middle of a natural gas boom.

The cap-and-trade system favored by the EPA allows states tremendous flexibility in meeting the new pollution standards.

Under the new rules, each state will receive a carbon-reduction target, and each state will decide how to meet its target. They can increase the energy efficiency of their homes, factories and public buildings, as Maine has done.

Or they might adopt policies that encourage alternative forms of energy, such as solar and wind, again, as our state has done.

Or, they can buy pollution credits from other states to bide time as they reduce their carbon output.

It should be noted that each of these alternatives will create rather than kill jobs.

What’s more, the rules will cut toxic pollution, resulting in an estimated $7 in health care savings for each dollar spent.

The announcement last week was quickly followed by two other important bits of information.

First, an analysis by The Associated Press found that climate change has not affected all parts of the country equally.

“The regions that have warmed the most have been New York’s St. Lawrence Valley, northeastern Vermont and northern Maine, New Mexico and western Vermont.

Those regions have warmed by more than 2.5 degrees over the past 30 years.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll last week found that a bipartisan majority of Americans support federal limits on greenhouse gas emissions. Most are even willing to accept slightly higher energy bills, if that’s what it takes.

“Fully 70 percent say the federal government should require limits to greenhouse gases from existing power plants ...” according to a Washington Post story.

“Democrats and Republicans are in rare agreement on the issue. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans, 76 percent of independents and 79 percent of Democrats support state-level limits on greenhouse gas emissions.”

Even tea party supporters show tepid support: 50 percent say the federal government should impose caps, while 45 percent say it should not.

Even in states that receive most of their electricity from burning coal, 69 percent say the government should put limits on greenhouse gas emissions. In states that receive less than half of their energy from coal, support is 71 percent.

The results parallel “broad concern” among Americans about global warming, according to a Washington Post story.

“Nearly seven in 10 say global warming, also known as climate change, is a serious problem facing the country, with 57 percent calling it very serious.”

Some members of Congress will attempt to overthrow the new rules.

Maine’s congressional delegates should not only vote against any attempt to weaken or delay the new rules, they should be actively trying to convince members from other states to do the same.

The Northeast has led the way on climate change, and led by example. It’s time for the rest of the country to follow.

rrhoades@sunjournal.com

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.

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Comments

JONATHAN ALBRECHT's picture

"government will do to drive the working lower class into the

ground". Wouldn't be nice if some people could think straight. The fossil fuel industry and only the fossil fuel industry, which has been killing working lower class people for more than a century, denies the obvious that human burning of fossil fuels is reshaping our planet now at the cost of lives and treasure. If the working lower class places its future in the hands of the Koch Brothers then we have no future.
Reversing climate change to the degree we can at this very late date will reduce energy costs, create jobs, save cities and lives. Time to act and ignore these deluded people.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

"Reversing climate change to

"Reversing climate change to the degree we can at this very late date will reduce energy costs, create jobs, save cities and lives. "

How?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I like to see their

I like to see their explanation of how 'reversing climate change' has resulted in a doubling of the price of gasoline during oBAMa's 5 1/2 years in office.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I have a friend that

I have a friend that socializes with Jimmy Carter and his click. The running joke is that Jimmy says thanks to Obama he will not be known as the worst living President anymore.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I find it surprising that

I find it surprising that Carter has that much awareness of his faulty presidency.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

What are your thoughts on the

What are your thoughts on the hoards of migrants on the Southern gate?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Gather them up, give them all

Gather them up, give them all one way bus tickets to their countries of origin, and build a taller and stronger fence and gate. One last thought; it is imperative that we cease rewarding them for coming here illegally.
Do you know the difference between illegal and unlawful?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Not sure he does, but it

Not sure he does, but it appears he may be aware of his reputation. Whether he internalizes it or not is another matter. Moreover, for all I know this is a running joke that Cater is unaware it is even discussed.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I lived in Georgia during the

I lived in Georgia during the time Carter ran for Governor against Lester Maddox. Maddox mopped the dance hall floor with him.

JONATHAN ALBRECHT's picture

Cherry-picking data again

Peak gasoline prices - $4.105/gal June 2008. Then price collapsed. Then price slowly increased from December 2008 on. Since Obama has taken no steps to reverse global warming nor has anyone else, the price change has nothing to do with reversing climate change.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

2008=Gasoline

2008=Gasoline $1.84/gallon
2014=Gasoline $$3.65/gallon.
BHO has been alleged president most of that time.
Where's the cherry tree?

JONATHAN ALBRECHT's picture

The 1.84

Just because a situation exists during a change doesn't make the situation a cause of the change- that's false logic i.e its irrational. Just because President Obama has been president doesn't mean he is a cause of the rise in gas prices. Certainly efforts to curb climate change aren't because there have been none.
Now this is categorically different than saying that President Bush was responsible for the depression of 2007-2009. There specific policies of the Bush administration - failure to regulate sub-prime mortgages, the decision by Greenspan not to regulate securities based on sub-prime mortgages, failure of the SEC to enforce anti-fraud regulations (example Madoff), failure to enforce anti-fraud regulations in the issuance of mortgages, FED failure to control the growing housing bubble, Bush tax cuts, etc. All these policies and more of the Bush administration materially contributed to the recession. It wasn't just that Bush sat in the oval office.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Hahaha...Back to blaming

Hahaha...Back to blaming Bush, eh?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Paul, I would like to

Paul,

I would like to correct a small, but tangible error in your prose.

Hahaha...[still] blaming Bush, eh?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Duly noted.

Duly noted.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

This group of automatons will

This group of automatons will blame Bush and rationalize Obama's failed policies until they move on to their final resting place.

I guess Bush is necessary for the latter - rationalization.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

There is a mystique

There is a mystique surrounding obama wherein his followers refuse to hold him accountable for anything he does, regardless of the consequences. One of the great marvels of my lifetime.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I respectfully disagree.

I respectfully disagree. History as seen this behavior before - late 1930's Germany.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Understood, but I have a

Understood, but I have a difficult time wrapping my head around the concept that the remaining obama supporters that continue to idolize him would follow him to those extremes. I think we'd have another civil war before what happened in Germany would happen here.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I agree, I think we are

I agree, I think we are heading for another civil war. The question is, how do we avoid it?

JONATHAN ALBRECHT's picture

Back to avoiding the issue

If a car hits a tree and the tree brings the power lines down, you don't blame the tree for the power outage.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Yet if Obama fails to fix the

Yet if Obama fails to fix the power line after 6 years, you don't keep blaming the car or tree. The problem is now his.

JONATHAN ALBRECHT's picture

The problem was "fixed" 3 months after

Obama took office. The increasing unemployment which was running at 750,000 jobs per month under Bush when Obama took office was reversed by March (being conservative) of 2009 and has been positive for years. The economy is now his and while its not doing as well as anyone would like Obama is not the cause. Inequality in Wealth slows economic growth and its impact has been increasing for 30 years. With a Republican house and Supreme Court doing everything they can to sabotage solutions, its impossible to say that Obama has not done enough. For example, Obama's stimulus plan was reduced from $1.5 trillion to under $900 billion by the Republicans and specifically Sen. Collins which reduced its effectiveness and delayed economic growth and job increases. Or when is the house Republicans going to pass any recovery legislation like the Jobs Bill or Income Tax reform or etc etc etc.
The enemy of America's economic health is the Republican Party. And please don't try to maintain the fiction that they are doing all they can to improve the economy. The country sees what they are doing (not doing) every night on the real news.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

"when is the house

"when is the house Republicans going to pass any recovery legislation like the Jobs Bill"

Never because government cannot create jobs. They can only hire people at a cost to the taxpayer, which is simply diverting money from growth investments.

And no, spending does not grow the economy. If that were true, countries would be able to spend themselves into prosperity. We know that can't happen. We know it has ever worked.

JONATHAN ALBRECHT's picture

Do conservative remain conservatives because they are

incapable of learning.
For how long have he heard this nonsense - "They can only hire people at a cost to the taxpayer, which is simply diverting money from growth investments." Just another way of saying - just trust us rich folks, we know what's best for you poor workers. Whatever "growth investments" are; its certain that people of all income levels are taxed. So they would use that money for consumption, some for savings, some for investments; some would move it overseas; some would hide it under the mattress. 70 years of history show that whatever they would do would be less effective than the government spending it to improve the marketplace - infrastructure, roads and bridges and workers education. And most Americans have believed that from the 1820's on when the canal and railroad building (almost all government financed) lead to the booming US economy of the second half of the 1800's.
You haven't noticed but countries have and do spend themselves into prosperity. You think I can't happen because of your bias not your knowledge. Your assumptions dictate your false conclusions.

TINA RILEY's picture

http://www.energytrendsinside

http://www.energytrendsinsider.com/2012/09/15/gasoline-prices-doubled-un...

Gas prices bottomed out with the economy. The economy tanked before Obama took office.

If you want to understand how the economy works, you have to look at a lot more than a few cherry-picked statistics. Sometimes it will make your favorite political party/official/stance look good, and sometimes it will not.

JONATHAN ALBRECHT's picture

Well let's start with reverse relelation

The Chamber of Commerce's report attacking the EPA's proposed regulation said they would cost less than .5% of GDP, a few hundred thousand jobs. First their report is not based on the EPA's proposal which they hadn't seen, but on environmentalists proposals to EPA. Second, the CofC report as usual looked at implementation costs only; no benefits; no avoided costs. What will it costs to protect NYC from another Sandy - $10 billion, $30 billion, ? What will it cost to protect/move Miami? What are the costs of Florida ending at Tampa Bay with no Everglades? What's the cost of no lobsters, clams, or scallops off shore in Maine?
How many people will be employed installing, building, designing solar and wind energy sources over the next 100 years or the occupations we can't even imagine today that will be necessary then? How many billions will be saved with the reduction of diseases caused now by sulfur and nitrogen dioxide reduction, minimization of mercury pollution, and the contamination of the planet with heavy metals? What's the cost of sharp reductions of food production caused by the increased volatility of weather?
When these factors are and many others included in the studies, the EPA proposals are cost reductions.
Then of course we have to observe that every time the fossil fuels industry has cried wolf at the costs of environmental regulations, history show their "estimates" are wildly inaccurate. Orders of magnitude wrong?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

1. " What are the costs of

1. " What are the costs of Florida ending at Tampa Bay with no Everglades? What's the cost of no lobsters, clams, or scallops off shore in Maine?"

What makes you think this will happen?

2. "How many people will be employed installing, building, designing solar and wind energy sources over the next 100 years or the occupations we can't even imagine today that will be necessary then? "

Where will the money come from, your food budget?

3. "Then of course we have to observe that every time the fossil fuels industry has cried wolf at the costs of environmental regulations, history show their "estimates" are wildly inaccurate."

You throw statements out like this, but no citation. How about providing one example.

4. Most importantly, what makes you think man can change climate in the reverse direction?

1. What makes you think it

1. What makes you think it won't? The ice sheets are melting as oceans are rising. It is reasonable to expect this to continue.
2. Stupid question. Where does the money for any job come from?
3. You know what Google is for. Every time I see a doubtful statement, I Google it for verification. You should try it some time.
4. The contention is not that it is caused 100% by man's actions. Only that is is accelerated by our activity. So we can't reverse it, but we can slow it down.

 's picture

I know!

Let's build a really high wall along Maine's western border to keep out all the crap that drifts in on the prevailing winds. As an added bonus, think of all the shovel-ready jobs this project would create. What's that you ask? How do we pay for it? Of course, hike taxes, contract the economy and make everything even worse for the "workin' people".

The pollution Maine emits is inconsequential and, as it moves east, is practically undetectable by the time it reaches Europe. That science was settled centuries ago.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Yes, we can pay for the cost

Yes, we can pay for the cost of reducing carbon after we pay housing, food, schooling, ...etc. for all those South American children flooding over the border that Obama refused to deport. Just give me a few minutes to pull more bills off my money tree.

Has this country gone mad? Do leaders know anything about economics? While we cannot afford to take care of our veterans and run structural budget deficits, we talk of spending tons of money on global warming and importing hoards from the third world. How is that good?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

That is what I thought - the

That is what I thought - the empty set.

CLEM BECHARD's picture

there you go again!

First let me say if you think this economy is expanding I have some ocean front property in Arizona for you. Also I would like to know where all those numbers come from? I know climate change is real its been going on since the beginning.. The problem I have is when you lump global warming with that phrase.
Let's see is it because no one agreed with the global warming bull crap?
So let me just end this reply with this. This is just one more thing the government will do to drive the working lower class into the ground..
It has been to long since people start thinking of the lower class that work their butts off every day with nothing to show for it. More regulation always means more mony out of our pockets that we can't afford!!!

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Let's see if people's

Let's see if people's attitudes change when their energy costs go through the roof.

In stead of investing public dollars in wind farms, which we all know with 100% certainty will never displace other carbon-based sources of electricity, we should be investing in technology that captures C02 emitted from coal and gas burning electricity plants.

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