Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Bipartisan Bill

Used to be that cap & trade was bipartisan because it used market mechanisms to accomplish environmental aims, but now it's "just another tax." These days Republicans are opposed to any kind of environmentalism, such as allowing the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases, partly on the grounds that they do not acknowledge climatic change to be happening (even though George W. Bush did), whether anthropogenic or not.

One proposal, the Boone Pickens bill, pumps heavy subsidies into the use of natural gas for transportation. The proposal has bipartisan support, and the use of domestic, relatively clean-burning natural gas is appealing on both national security and environmental grounds. However, some argue that broader incentives would be better: if we just incentivize decreased emissions, vehicle manufacturers (and drivers) will choose whatever's best, whether natural gas or not. Instead it might be better to incentivize the use of natural gas for electricity production, a safer bet. On the other hand, hydrofracking to produce natural gas is generating additional pollution, as shown in one of our class videos. I support the development of the natural gas industry, but I also support careful supervision by our EPA. Domestic security, clean air, and clean water ought to be goals we can agree upon.

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