Energizing Cap and Trade Discussions – Part 3 (The “Pro” Argument)
August 13, 2009 1 Comment
In the mid-1990s I frequently worked in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The city supported around 1 million people, nearly half of which were transients living in small tents called “gers.” The “ger” communities had no real infrastructure such as electricity or water, and subsequently used raw coal in stoves as a primary heat source, and those people who had a little money occasionally had small gas generators for minimal electricity.
In those days unleaded gasoline did not exist in Mongolia, and transportation was either older used cars from Korea and Germany, or even more often Russian made vehicles such as Ladas or Volgas. During the winter months Ulaanbaatar’s air was so bad you did not dare to wear any clothing with exposed white, as it would soon be covered with black soot, which could never really be cleaned.
Our employees were frequently ill, at a rate that is unprecedented in offices I’ve worked in over 35 years. Sadly, people also died at a much younger age, with respiratory problems and cancer being the most frequent cause. A very unhealthy place live and work.
What Cap and Trade Tries to Accomplish
Cap and Trade programs try to limit production and impact of CO2 emissions and production of greenhouse gases resulting in pollution and potentially global warming. The Environmental Protection Agency/EPA identifies Cap and Trade as programs which “reward innovation, efficiency, and early action, providing strict environmental accountability without inhibiting economic growth.” In addition to providing incentives and penalties on the production of CO2, Cap and Trade programs have also included projects focuse don controlling Acid rain, NOx, and another US program called the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR).
California Cap and Trade
California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, or California AB 32, establishes a “first-in-the-world comprehensive program of regulatory and market mechanisms to achieve real, quantifiable, cost-effective reductions of greenhouse gases (GHG).” AB 32 assigns responsibility to the California Air Resources Board/ARB to:
- Establish a statewide GHG emissions cap for 2020, based on 1990 emissions by January 1, 2008
- Adopt mandatory reporting rules for significant sources of greenhouse gases by January 1, 2008
- Adopt a plan by January 1, 2009 indicating how emission reductions will be achieved from significant GHG sources via regulations, market mechanisms and other actions
- Adopt regulations by January 1, 2011 to achieve the maximum technologically feasible and cost-effective reductions in GHGs, including provisions for using both market mechanisms and alternative compliance mechanisms
- Convene an Environmental Justice Advisory Committee and an Economic and Technology Advancement Advisory Committee to advise ARB
- Ensure public notice and opportunity for comment for all ARB actions
- Prior to imposing any mandates or authorizing market mechanisms, requires ARB to evaluate several factors, including but not limited to: impacts on California’s economy, the environment, and public health; equity between regulated entities; electricity reliability, conformance with other environmental laws, and to ensure that the rules do not disproportionately impact low-income communities
- Adopt a list of discrete, early action measures by July 1, 2007 that can be implemented before January 1, 2010 and adopt such measures (AB 32)
California also belongs to the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), which includes US states and provinces, including:
- British Colombia
- New Mexico
- And of course California
The WCI is a regional Cap and Trade system which will exceed federal initiatives, with implementation planned by 2015. When implemented the program will address 90% of the greenhouse gases produced within the member states and provinces. Specific program design includes:
- Provides opportunities to obtain low-cost emission reductions through emission trading, allowance banking, and inclusion of an offsets component
- Is intended to mitigate economic impacts, including impacts on consumers, income, and employment
- Balances all principles adopted by the WCI Partner jurisdictions to maximize total benefits throughout the region, including reducing air pollutants, diversifying energy sources, and advancing economic, environmental, and public health objectives, while also avoiding localized or disproportionate environmental or economic impacts
Opinions on Cap and Trade
In Part 1 of this series we posted a link to the Federal Cap and Trade Policy Primer. Using this primer as a reference, we can look at some of the opinions driving public reaction to Cap and Trade, in this case mostly positive (this is the “Pro” segment of the series!). rather than list dozens of positive opinions on the topic (readers can just as easily do a Google search on Cap and trade and list hundreds of pro and con opinions), we will hit a couple highlights.
Overall, I still give Representatives Henry Waxman of California and Edward Markey of Massachusetts a solid “B.” I’m grading on a curve–the curve of political reality. Straight A’s are hard to come by with oil, coal, and other industries spending almost $80 million lobbying on climate policy in just the past three months (pdf). (Alan Durning)
I love Waxman-Markey’s scope. It is comprehensive, covering essentially all fossil fuels, along with most other greenhouse gases.
The 2050 goal of Cap and Trade is a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 83% below 2005 levels. This brings us beyond carbon is only 40 years! (Durning)
Waxman-Markey is comprehensive in scope, including essentially all fossil fuels, along with certain other measurable greenhouse gases. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that Waxman-Markey’s cap would cover about 72 percent of US emissions in 2012; by 2020, it would cover 86 percent. (Sightline.Org)
The Bottom Line
Another morning looking over the port, and in the direction of Palos Verdes. While only a few miles from downtown Long Beach, it is almost impossible to see the Palos Verdes Peninsula due to the haze and smog generated from both the port, and the oil refineries in San Pedro and the harbor area. We need both the port, and the refineries. Nobody can argue that point.
However the move from old diesel engines to cleaner diesel within the port. The move to natural gas to drive trucking and container movement within the port. Reducing emissions from automobiles through introduction of natural gas (CNG) engines and elimination of gasoline. Increased use of cleaner public transportation such as trains and buses. Many things we can and must do to bring our community back into a reasonable environment, while still promoting and protecting the port economy.
On June 4th the Alaskan Navigator, a huge oil tanker from Valdez, Alaska, docked at the Port of Long Beach. The “Navigator” is unique. While in port the Navigator plugged into the shore-side electrical grid. The ship’s diesels turned off, and power within the ship was provided entirely by dockside power. Normally ships in port burn diesel to power on-board systems, and in a worst case burn diesel sludge, which is the dirtiest dreg of fuel. The LA Times described the fuel used by the average ship in port as the “energy equivalent of a days worth of driving 187,000 cars (4 June 2009 – articles.latimes.com).
The Navigator, and other ships in production, will have a major positive impact on the air quality within the Ports of Long Beach/LA, and the entire Los Angeles basin. Cap and Trade programs in California and at the federal level will continue to force similar projects, and Angelinos – as well as all Americans, will benefit from the effort.
Again, study the issues. Learn about Cap and Trade and greenhouse gases, with the impact all may have on the environment. It is our world, and we have an obligation, and right, to have our voices heard.
John Savageau, Long Beach