Wednesday, May 12, 2010

People to the Power

Joe Rahm and Climate Progress have scooped everyone else with a leaked version and preliminary evaluation of the American Power Act set to be introduced by Senator John Kerry and the other guy later today. The first reviews are good, and thanks to the Gulf oil gush, the chances of passage of some sort of energy bill are better than they've been in a very long time.

The specifics will be explained and debated for awhile, but providing resources and incentives for energy conservation and a clean domestic energy economy are likely to gain plenty of support, especially after all the "listening" (i.e. trading) that Kerry and the other guy have done while crafting this bill.

What's going to be harder to both explain and agree on will be the methods of capping and reducing heat-trapping gases. But the argument that needs to be emphasized, beyond saving the planet's future, is the need to do this in order to accelerate that clean energy economy. And a lot of folks don't think it's possible, at least in the short time that's necessary, without increasing the cost of dirty energy.

And it's necessary not just to head off the worst--the climate cataclysm becoming climate collapse--but to create capacity and competitiveness for clean energy internationally. Or else we'll eventually be buying our windmills and solar panels from China, if we can even afford them by then.

That's the conclusion for example of Europe's climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard, who is now advocating for a 30% cut in heat-trapping gases as Europe's unilateral goal, instead of the current 20%. She said the" 20% cut would not drive the clean energy innovation Europe needed. She said China was investing almost 10 times as much as the EU in plans for a low-carbon economy."

But European industries are resisting that goal, unless and until the U.S. makes the same move, or at least some move, as contemplated in this bill. It may take emphasizing economic self-interest to save the planet, but the argument may be a sound one.

Meanwhile, the Gulf: Amidst the circus of blame in Congress Tuesday, there was this disturbing suggestion about what's happening with the oil: that because of the chemical dispersants being used, it isn't so much that the oil is not coming onshore, but that it's not visible as oil slick, and that the oil is sinking, where it becomes toxic to marine life, but invisible to cameras and satellites. This Kos diary also suggests the possibility that it's headed for the Florida keys.

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