Opinion

The Great Debate

Time for the GOP to become green

Rob Sisson is president of Republicans for Environmental Protection. All opinions expressed are his own.

sisson1201(Politico) News flash: Republicans believe in protecting the environment. And we believe in playing it straight with the facts.

There are plenty of us green Republicans out here, including leaders like Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman — President Barack Obama’s nominee to be ambassador to China — Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois, to name a few.

As Huntsman said last year, “If we’re going to survive as a party, we need to focus on the environment.”

But protecting the environment isn’t just political expediency; it’s core philosophy. We don’t think it’s a coincidence that “conservative” and “conservationist” sound so much alike. And we don’t think it’s a coincidence that many of our landmark environmental bills — the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990 — were signed into law by Republican presidents.

Slicing and dicing to gain support for cap-and-trade

John Kemp Great Debate– John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own –

House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman will this week publish a full text of proposed climate change legislation, including details of a cap-and-trade scheme for regulating and pricing emissions of greenhouse gases.

Press reports suggest the Waxman bill will give away as many as 75 percent of the permits free to power utilities, coal-producers and other industrial users in the first stage of the plan to defuse opposition and buy support from congressional Democrats representing industrial and coal-producing states.

The economic cost of climate change legislation

 Diana Furchtgott-Roth– Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.  The views expressed are her own. —

Chairman Henry Waxman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee announced yesterday that his American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 “will create millions of jobs, revive our economy, and secure our energy independence.”

The 648-page bill, co-sponsored by Waxman and fellow Democrat Edward Markey, Chairman of the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee, has been the subject of four days of committee hearings this week.  It would set new limits for greenhouse gas emissions, and prescribe radically new standards for energy production and use.

A new vision for the Summit of the Americas

americas-summit3

– Jeffrey W. Rubin is professor of history and a research associate at the Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs at Boston University, where he directs the Enduring Reform Project. Emma Sokoloff-Rubin is a Yale undergraduate and an associate editor of The Yale Globalist. The views expressed are their own. –

As leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies debated stimulus packages and financial regulation at the G20 in London in early April, policemen kept at bay protesters’ calls for attention to inequality, hunger, climate change, and human rights. The leaders talked economic shop as the protesters demanded new visions — and the disconnect did not offer much hope for addressing the ravages of crisis worldwide.

The Summit of the Americas this week is where leaders could link the issues discussed in G20 meetings to the concerns of citizens protesting outside. The Summit brings together the largest regional group of democratically elected, progressive leaders in the world today. By adopting a broader view than that taken at the G20, leaders of the United States, Canada, and Latin American countries could look for ways of responding to the economic crisis that also tackle the deep inequality facing nations across the hemisphere. As elected representatives of majorities seeking inclusion and change, these leaders have the unique opportunity to begin a conversation that will transform the terms of debate and action in the global public sphere.

Democratic divisions stall U.S. cap-and-trade

John Kemp Great DebateProspects for enacting a cap-and-trade program regulating U.S. greenhouse gas emissions later this year have receded following a vote in the Senate exposing deep divisions within the Democratic Party.

On April 1, 26 Democratic senators broke with the majority of their colleagues and both the party’s Senate leaders to join all 41 Republicans voting for an amendment to the annual budget resolution forbidding use of the budget reconciliation process to pass climate change legislation involving a cap-and-trade system.

In effect, the amendment ensures approval of a cap-and-trade system will require a minimum of 60 votes rather than a simple majority of 50 in the 100-member chamber. Since Democratic leaders do not currently have anywhere like that number of votes for the measure, and little time to build popular support, it is going nowhere in the near term.

from Felix Salmon:

Another reason why inflation is a good idea

Megan McArdle is unhappy with the state of green consumption:

When I look back at almost every "environmentally friendly" alternative product I've seen being widely touted as a cost-free way to lower our footprint, held back only by the indecent vermin at "industry" who don't care about the environment, I notice a common theme: the replacement good has really really sucked compared to the old, inefficient version.

(Scare quotes Megan's, natch.)

The problem, as Megan admits, is that she's looking at the "cost-free" replacements: the bottom-of-the-line green products which can be used to replace legacy products which are the result of decades of development and economies of scale. It's hardly surprising that these first- and second-generation products can't compete on price.

But my feeling is not that the new products are too expensive, so much as that the old products are too cheap. That's certainly the case with food: chicken, beef, and other corn byproducts -- including the famous high-fructose corn syrup -- are so underpriced that their cultivation is destroying the planet and causing mass obesity.

First the stock market, now water

Jonas Minton– Jonas Minton is Water Policy Advisor for the Planning and Conservation League, an environmental advocacy organization.  Previously he was deputy director of the California Department of Water Resources. The views expressed are his own. –

In many ways, water policy in the Western United States mirrors the economic policies which created our financial catastrophe. Here in the West we’ve seen a massive development boom fueled by unrealistic expectations of ever-increasing supply.

Water contracts have been issued for many times the amount of water that nature can reliably provide. Wildly optimistic appraisals of water availability are being used to justify long-term, otherwise infeasible projects. Long held cautionary principles are being overlooked or eliminated in the rush to fulfill promises and support dreams that are unsustainable. And the public is being actively encouraged to invest billions more in bonds to subsidize the very system that is driving us to the crisis point.

Climate change and the WSJ

wsjIn “The Wall Street Journal of Atmospheric Sciences“, Stuart Gaffin, a climate researcher at Columbia University, takes on the newspaper’s presentation of global warming.

“They have fed their readers so much misinformation and confusion one can only conclude they consider complete fabrication fair play in the discussion,” Gaffin writes.

Holman Jenkins, a Wall Street Journal columnist and member of the WSJ editorial board, rejected the critique, stating:

U.S. cap-and-trade choice inferior to carbon tax

John Kemp Great Debate– John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own –

President Barack Obama’s first budget puts climate change at the heart of the administration’s long-term economic plan. But despite the clear theoretical advantages of a simple carbon tax, he seems set to follow the EU and California in opting for a cap-and-trade system.

The budget plan commits the administration to work with Congress on an economy-wide emissions reductions program, based around cap-and-trade.

Clean energy investment needs greener light

– Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

paul-taylorInvestors in clean energy are like motorists stuck at broken traffic lights. The public policy light is green but the price and credit lights are deep red.

Investment in wind, wave and solar power should be booming after the European Union last year adopted an ambitious goal to draw 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 to help fight global warming, and U.S. President Barack Obama made green power a central plank of his government’s policy.

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