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Markey Waxman Energy Bill Skimps On Conservation

Many promises were made in the 2006 and 2008 elections about how, if only the Democrats could get in charge of the U.S. Congress, the US would finally see the development of legislation to confront the crisis of climate change and make America’s energy infrastructure sustainable. Those promises haven’t brought the kind of action that the scale of our nation’s energy problems demand. This week, the most comprehensive climate and energy legislation to be offered by Democrats so far, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, was released in draft form by congressmen Ed Markey and Henry Waxman… and it falls far short of what we need.

The draft legislation puts heavy emphasis on development of additional production of energy for the United States. Much of this new production will be renewable in nature, but much of it will not. The bill only calls for 25 percent of American energy to come from renewable sources by the year 2025. That means 75 percent of American energy will remain non-renewable, unsustainable, and as dirty as it ever has been. The fact that this requirement is a percent, and not a fixed amount, means that all energy corporations will have to do is increase the total amount of energy being produced, while keeping their old, polluting facilities going. That’s not going to clean up the system.

congress smokestack pollutionImagine our world as a person who has been smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. The Markey Waxman draft legislation proposes that, in order to deal with that problem, the person learns to breathe more often, while still smoking two packs of cigarettes every day. The percentage of breaths that contain cigarette smoke will go down, but the amount of cigarette smoke going into the body will not. You get the same pollution to the lungs, but now with hyperventilation.

The bill actually makes it a goal to increase the construction of new coal burning power plants. Under its provisions, new coal burning power plants can be built for the next six years without having any carbon sequestration (“clean coal”) technology at all. The coal companies only have to promise to retrofit those new dirty coal burning plants sixteen years from now. That means that for sixteen years, there will be an increase in carbon emissions, and other air pollution, from coal burning power plants, not a decrease. Furthermore, no one has invented the carbon sequestration retrofits promised in 2025. Ed Markey and Henry Waxman might as well have inserted a provision into their legislation saying, “In 2025, Buck Rogers must deliver a new technology to make it all better.”

Besides that, carbon sequestration only solves part of the problem of coal. The extraction and transportation of coal from the ground to the plants where it is burned is a huge source of pollution. Also, coal burning power plants produce toxic sludge that is stored in giant lagoons that sometimes burst out upon the surrounding towns and countryside. The Markey Waxman legislation does nothing to regulate mining, transportation and waste management related to coal – and in increasing the burning of coal, it actually makes these problems worse.

What’s missing from the American Clean Energy and Security Act is as disturbing as what’s there. The legislation contains no serious plan to enact to enforce energy conservation. It fiddles around the edges with programs to provide the owners of 33 year-old mobile homes with new, more efficient models, to study the replacement of incandescent light bulbs, to change the way that energy consumption of television sets is measured, making new standards for coffeemakers and hot tubs, and creating smart grid energy efficiency models. That’s all nice, but there are no comprehensive measures to initiate serious energy conservation on the part of American homes and businesses.

It’s a hard truth that won’t be politically popular, but Americans cannot go on using as much energy as they have. The Waxman Markey legislation fails to acknowledge that, and so, it fails even to set the goals that we need to save the biosphere from ruin, and establish an economy that can sustain the American people for the next generation.

The legislation proposed by Ed Markey and Henry Waxman is too timid, and too indulgent to the demands of the fossil fuel industries, to succeed.

5 thoughts on “Markey Waxman Energy Bill Skimps On Conservation”

  1. t lu says:

    Do you realize that CO2 at the current level of 385 ppm is equal to less than 4 parts in 10,000??? Three of those four parts of CO2 were placed there by mother nature. All of your ranting and hysterical reaction is about 1 part of CO2 for every 10,000 parts of other atmospheric gas. ONE IN TEN THOUSAND! How can any sensible person believe that 1/10,000 parts of a beneficial gas like CO2 will cause a global catastrophe. What will happen if we continue to use fossil fuels is that the earth will become a greener planet. During the Jurrasic period, the level of CO2 was three times that of today! Please stop your NAZIish presentation of Al Gores junk science which is being used to achieve a political goal! Do some homework… I promise the truth will set you free!

    1. Green Man says:

      Our Nazi-ish presentation of global warming science? When did Adolph Hitler kill people in the name of climate? When did we gas children here at Irregular TImes in order to promote awareness of global warming?

      t lu, look at things in perspective – what you’re talking about is a dramatic shift. From 3 parts per 10,000 to 4 parts to 10,000 is an increase of 33.3 percent. That’s a big change.

      Do you know what a small amount of arsenic in your blood is required to kill you? Would you argue that that small level means that the arsenic doesn’t matter? Get real – one drop of mercury in your morning coffee would drop you flat, but are you going to say that you don’t need to worry about it, because it’s just a drop?

  2. Jim says:

    Do you realize that arsenic is deadly at less than 100 ppm — equal to less than 1 part in 10,000??? All the arsenic that exists was created by God Almighty, so why do you have a problem with it? All the ranting and hysterical reaction about “death” by arsenic poisoning is about 1 part of arsenic for every 10,000 parts of other liquid or soil. ONE IN TEN THOUSAND! How can any sensible person believe…

    blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

    And if you complain that I’m making fun of you, you’re a NAZI — just like that Luftwaffe goon Al Gore.


  3. Carbonicus says:

    Greenman and Jim – T lu is right and you are wrong.

    Greenman, 33.3. percent is a big change, in percentage terms. In molecular terms, it’s still 1 in 10,000. Nice try. T Lu is also correct about historic CO2 levels – before humans ever started burning fossil fuels – and the fact that you have been living off the energy from the earth’s productivity during that time.

    Jim, arsenic is a known pollutant. It is not an essential element of life, like carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. You are comparing apples to orangutans (not even oranges).

    To both, know how much of the tax raised from cap and trade is going to “alternative energy R&D”? About 23%. Know where the balance is going? A) to +/- 40 new federal dept./agencies to administer CO2 programs/cap & rape, and B) Obama’s “wealth redistribution” (aka middle class tax cuts). This isn’t about the environment. Green jobs? At least one and as many as 4 “dirty” jobs will be eliminated for each “green” job created.

    These figures are easily checked, but your mindset doesn’t want to know facts, especially if it stands in the way of your “green agenda”.

    In short, CO2 isn’t a “pollutant” except in politics, and this is about wealth redistribution. You are eco-socialist who know NOTHING about atmospheric science and related cost/benefit analysis. You are simply watermelons: green on the outside and red on the inside.

    Hope you have the balls to allow this post.

  4. Jim says:

    Oh, yes, we’re going to censor you — why, you are so persecuted! You wish.

    There are loads of substances that are “essential elements of life” in some contexts and pollutants or health threats in others. Hydrogen, carbon and oxygen are three of these. Try rolling in benzene some time and see how that works for you. What is benzene made of? Try breathing in some O3 and see how your lungs do; yet, it protects us in certain conditions from tumors. For that matter, try putting yourself in a room filled with carbon dioxide and see how that essential element of life treats you. Even arsenic has its uses in certain amounts and for certain ends. Our reaction to elements and molecules and substances is conditional. Allow yourself to think conditionally.

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