This week in Congress, while President Obama and Senate Democrats gave general statements deferring vague ideas of action to address the climate crisis, Representative Earl Blumenauer outlined a specific plan:
“Congress and the administration should begin serious conversation about a broad-based carbon tax. This would give the right signals on energy sources and use. It could raise money to reduce the deficit, restore our badly damaged infrastructure, speed and finance conservation while cushioning the impact on lower-income families and small business.
There are a number of other commonsense steps that would make progress on carbon pollution and energy conservation goals much more significant. First, the EPA should stop dragging its feet, permitting old, polluting, inefficient coal plants to continue to spew forth toxic waste harming not just the environment but the health of our citizens. It’s past time that the Clean Air Act should be enforced. We should make sure there are proper safeguards for the fracking technology for gas and petroleum and making sure this vast reservoir of inexpensive gas does not undercut the critical addition of renewables to our energy portfolio: solar, wind, geothermal, perhaps even tidal energy.
We need global leadership on these technologies for a balanced energy portfolio and, ultimately, to reduce our carbon footprint. At each step, we should be looking to enhance energy conservation, because the cheapest kilowatt hour is one that you don’t have to generate and use.
We should have a 10-year glide path in our support of renewable energy. The wind energy industry has already signaled receptivity to phasing out its subsidy, just giving it enough time to come to scale and then stand on its own. It’s such a good idea, we should do the same thing for the petroleum industry. After 100 years, the most profitable commodity on the planet is mature and will be able to survive and even thrive without additional tax incentives.
Finally, and most important, we should have the Federal Government lead by example. The Department of Energy’s management of four large power marketing agencies should be the gold standard for integrating renewables into the grid, upgrading transmission capacity, and leading on conservation. The GSA, with over 300 million square feet of Federal office space should demand that all our facilities, every square foot we lease, buy, or build, should be of the highest energy efficiency.”