Cool Green Morning: Monday, June 29

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Published on June 29th, 2009  |  Discuss This Article  

You’ve heard the news already, haven’t you? The American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) narrowly passed the House on Friday. While the bill still has a long way to go, let’s take a moment to celebrate…… Of course, the blogosphere waits for no one, so now on to this morning’s round-up of Cool Green News.

  1. Speaking of ACES: Environmental Leader sums up media coverage of the bill’s landmark passage through the House, Dot Earth takes a look at what impacts the bill could have on climate change if it’s passed and Grist examines what’s next as the bill heads to the Senate.
  2. Bright Green Blog reminds us of a key distinction in the climate change debate: it’s not about the world’s temperature varying from what it’s “supposed to be” but about how quickly the temperature is rising
  3. It doesn’t seem liked we’d need a scientific study to know this, but perhaps the new research will help strengthen the case against border fencing: scientists tracked pygmy owls and bighorn sheep along the Southwest and found their health and movements would be limited by a U.S.-Mexico border fence.
  4. Add this one to the list of climate change impacts on species: A new study on white sea bass finds that higher levels of CO2 in the water led to the fish growing larger ear bones, which could affect their navigational abilities.
  5. Scientists have taken a good look at the potential benefits of wind power and come up with some good-looking numbers: in the United States, wind turbines could produce 16 times the energy we currently use and a global network could produce 40 times the world’s energy use.
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Comments: Cool Green Morning: Monday, June 29

  •  Comment from theClean

    We at TheCLEAN.org feels as though there are major problems with ACES. TheClean.org has clearly stated why we want this bill changed, but we also acknowledge that some people, including many environmentalists, energy economists, members of Congress, and even some of our own activists, are still conflicted on whether or not they support the legislation.

    They wonder if they should support something that takes a few steps in the right direction but also, in so many ways, continues the status quo and, quite frankly, actually confirms and increases coal- and nuclear-based energy.

    We feel that some of the most basic of questions concerning pivotal aspects of climate change have gone unanswered.

    1) Many supporters of ACES have argued “this is the best we can get given the circumstances” or that this bill “is a beginning.” If so, the central question for community organizers is: what is the next step? How will we obtain more meaningful and effective action on energy policy and climate change if we accept that these are the “circumstances”? When or how will we be able to improve the circumstances that are produced by this incomplete Act?

    2) Given that the fossil-fuel industry is unwilling to agree to reduce carbon any further than the current legislation, and given that many environmental groups have acquiesced to the industry’s terms in the name of “getting something done”, what is the strategy for getting an energy bill that will reduce carbon enough to actually slow global warming? When will that bill happen? Will it be when the Democrats control Congress, the Senate, and the Presidency? (Hint: they already do.)

    3) Since President Obama is likely to sign the bill with great fanfare, what will the public take away from this? Will they see it as a “win”–that the problem is solved? If so, what will that mean for pushing for the needed steps later? How will the public be mobilized to push their Representatives when the official and media message is that this is “landmark” legislation?

    4) If this bill is signed, coal’s role in America’s energy mix will be set for the next two decades. What strategies can victims of the coal industry use to convince Washington that the industry is still undertaking destructive and hazardous mining methods such as longwall mining and mountaintop removal coal mining?

    5) Why are taxpayers about to ‘invest’ billions in the carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) of coal if Wall Street has taken a pass?

    6) If our energy policy is so predicated on the workability of CCS and the inevitability of reliance on coal, what happens if CCS is not workable, or workable in time? Where are the sequestration sites? What are the estimates for storage capacity? What happens to local communities if there is an unexpected slow or sudden large release of CO2? Do the communities know the potential risk they are taking? Why are we giving billions of dollars to an industry without answers to these fundamental questions?

    7) If mountaintop removal and the serious impact on water resources in the West are factored in, what is the true cost of coal for our future?

    8) Why are we eliminating the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon as a pollutant like they do any other pollutant? If we do this, when will Congress be willing to revisit regulation guidelines on carbon? What are the levers for change without the regulatory authority of the EPA?

    9) What is the execution plan for the regulation of the cap and trade provisions of the bill? How can we ask Americans to accept a new “market” without a clear regulatory process, especially after the lack of a clear regulatory process just caused the collapse of our financial sector?

    10) Why are we not meeting the necessary reductions in carbon as put forth by science?

    These questions must be answered. The stakes are too high. The American public deserves a bill that represents their long-term energy, economic, and security interests. We deserve better than a bill created by the conversation Washington insiders have amongst themselves. We deserve leadership, not the lowest common denominator. We voted overwhelmingly for these things in 2006 and this bill does not represent that intention.

    These aren’t minor uncertainties of a big bill, or things that can be “hammered out later.” In the view of most participants in CLEAN these are fundamental questions that point to deep underlying flaws with the legislation. Flaws that will lead to inevitable failures with serious, if not devastating, human consequences.

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