Sunday, August 12, 2007

At long last--The Energy Bill Post

I apologize, readers, for the 10 day hiatus in posts, but I have been on vacation, and then thinking about what to say about the Energy Bill passed in the House on August 4, 2007.

Earth2Tech has a nice summary of the features of the bill here

I want to disuss what the bill doesn't do. The Bill does not remotely address our dependence on fossil fuel and coal. It basically just nibbles around the edges, establishing programs like the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, for energy research, and requiring the Department of Energy to establish a green building clearinghouse, and providing funds and incentives for alternative fuel research and use. An increase in the fuel efficiency standards for cars, for example, was removed from the bill.

What really needs to happen is large scale, expensive change--a carbon tax, and a cap-and-trade program for emissions. The Federal government needs to create legislation to build the actual cost of environmental damage into each and every energy transaction to effect real change. Now that Democrats have some governmental power, they must push for the large scale change that will really make a difference, as opposed to wasting political capital on band-aid pallitives.

The bill does have some positive aspects--it cuts the $16b subsidy to Big Oil, and it creates milestones for the Federal government to reduce its carbon footprint. But we need to stop playing around, global warming is not a problem that lends itself to partial solutions. It requires large scale political change which will impact large corporate players. The Democrats in Congress do not appear to be ready to think big.


Dan said...

We absolutely need a carbon tax, but why have both a carbon tax and a cap-and-trade program? Check out our Carbon Tax Center's issue paper comparing carbon taxes to cap-and-trade at

Shari Shapiro said...


I appreciate your comment, but the two are not mutually exclusive. The carbon tax increases the cost to pollute, but the cap reduces the overall quantity. For example, the carbon tax would not serve as a barrier to highly capitalized polluters like oil companies. They would just absorb the increased cost either by passing it on to consumers or reducing profit levels. By having the two work in tandem, the added cost of the carbon tax will influence those who are price sensitive, and the cap will restrict those who are not.