It never occurs in large numbers, but for once, a prominent Republican is more correct about our energy future and climate than a prominent Democrat. In an article in The Atlantic, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks at length about the future of green energy and the economic promise it brings to his state and his nation. A few relevant quotes:
“We established the 25 million-acre Sierra Nevada Conservancy and preserved hundreds of thousands of additional acres up and down our state. But as I said three years ago in a speech at Yale University, if we can’t put solar power plants in the Mojave Desert, I don’t know where we can put them. In other words, we need to worry less about a few dozen desert tortoises and more about the economic prosperity, security and health of our nation.”
“For most Americans, the biggest problem facing our nation right now is the economy and jobs. People are worried about the future. About whether their children will live in a nation that falls behind China and other rapidly growing economies. From my experience in California, it is absolutely clear that a green economy is the way to keep Americans competitive abroad while providing economic growth and jobs at home. Green jobs are the largest source of employment growth in California, with green tech jobs growing 10 times faster than other sectors over the last five years.“
“We need a firm policy that spells out our commitment to renewable energy and how to get there. We need policies like those in California that have made our state 40 percent more energy efficient than the rest of the nation. We need a strong policy to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, like California’s low carbon fuel standard and our law to limit greenhouse gas emissions.”
“We have about 100,000 premature deaths in the U.S. each year from petroleum-related air pollution and 6.5 million annual hospital visits by people with respiratory illnesses caused by the same thing. These deaths are far greater in number than the combined deaths from car accidents, drunk drivers, gang wars, suicides or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
It’s nice to see Mr. Freeze taking a stand on global warming, even if he did capitulate to the skeptics by arguing, “Let’s face it, if we haven’t convinced the skeptics by now, we aren’t going to.”
On the other hand, Virginia Democrat, Sen. Jim Webb, issued a press release writing that we should loosen the EPA’s regulation of carbon. Here are some excerpts:
“Like Senator McConnell, I have expressed deep reservations about the consequences of unilateral regulation of greenhouse gases by the EPA. In my view, this will result in long and expensive regulatory processes that could lead to overly stringent and very costly controls on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.”
“I am not convinced that the Clean Air Act was ever intended to regulate – or to classify as a dangerous pollutant – something as basic and ubiquitous in our atmosphere as carbon dioxide.“
“We should…incentivize factory owners, manufacturers, and consumers to become more energy efficient, and fund research and development for technologies that will enable the safe and clean use of this country’s vast fossil fuel and other resources.”
The major disconnect in the Senator’s argument is the conflation of “clean use of this country’s vast fossil fuel…resources” and “something as basic and ubiquitous in our atmosphere as carbon dioxide.” Under present circumstances the two cannot coexist. This failure to connect these two critical points explains why he is so worried about “costly controls” now without considering the much greater long-term costs due to environmental degradation, climate change, and ceding the clean energy market to China and Germany.
As one final point, the Senator is wrong about his interpretation of the Clean Air Act. Nobody contends that the Act grants the EPA the ability to regulate pollutants. Contention emerges on whether carbon dioxide qualifies as a pollutant. To quote the Act itself:
“The Administrator shall periodically review the list established…,adding pollutants which present, or may present,…adverse environmental effects whether through ambient concentrations, bioaccumulation, deposition, or otherwise.”
Given that this establishes what may be defined as a pollutant, I believe it is clear that extreme amounts of carbon dioxide meets the required standard.