THE BLOG

Fraud, Fraud, and Damned Fraud

Americans are being urged, across party lines, to vote for a new energy future in several weeks. The Christian Coalition and leaders of the National Association of Evangelicals have launched a Call to Action, a multimedia initiative designed to place global warming at the center of Christian concerns in this fall's election in the crucial states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Colorado. The leaders admit that they are sending the Republican Party a message: Don't take us for granted; we care about creation, too, not just about abortion. "The fact that Republicans believe they have a lock on our voters is damaging to both the party and the church," said Peter Vander Meulen, social justice coordinator for the Christian Reformed Church. And from the other side, analyst James Carville and commentator Tom Friedman have joined in saying that a new energy future should be the centerpiece of what the Democrats stand for -- in Carville's words, "the stock -- not just something we add to the stew."

But not everyone on the Democratic side gets it. The Progressive Policy Institute -- the policy arm of the Democratic Leadership Council -- has put out a new platform that sounds good and includes language like "smokestacks and oil rigs ... symbolize an addiction to carbon-based fuels that endangers America's national security, economic vitality, and environmental health.... The Bush administration and the Republican Congress have responded with an astounding series of obfuscations, evasions, and failures of leadership. They have devoted their energies to preserving the status quo rather than changing it."

But PPI doesn't do much better than the much-maligned Bushies. First, instead of making companies that pollute the atmosphere pay for the damage they have caused, PPI proposes to make their pollution a property right and to allow them to obtain an economic edge over already-clean companies by giving them the right to sell these pollution allowances. Instead of closing the loophole in today's fuel economy standards for vehicles, and making the standards more reasonable, PPI proposes to junk fuel economy rules and let auto companies pay other sectors of the economy for the right to pollute. The reason? Congress isn't willing to do its job. (But PPI never mentions that eleven states have already set greenhouse pollution standards for vehicles that will force the auto makers to clean up their act.)

Then, having pointed out the lunacy of trying to drill our way out of our energy mess, PPI suggests that, even so, we should make it easier for the oil industry to drill off our coast; calls for more subsidies for the coal industry in the guise of "clean coal" (which ain't); and finally tops it all off with a call for more nuclear power -- while conveniently ignoring the problems we are facing in Iran and Korea as a result of previous nuclear proselytizing.

While PPI likes to toss around phrases like "market-based," what they really mean is best captured in this little gem of a sentence: "The energy bill of 2005 included a few worthy measures on that front, including federal investments, loan guarantees, and tax credits that promise to trim $200 million to $300 million off the costs of new reactors, allowing them to generate power more cost-effectively than gas- and coalfired power plants."

Now of course these tax giveaways don't reduce the cost of new reactors at all -- they just shift them to the taxpayers. And these plants don't generate power more cost-effectively than gas or coal (or wind or efficiency) -- they are just made to appear cost-effective. Even the Wall Street Journal saw through this scam! Some market. Some progress.


This Is What the Scientists Told Us Global Warming Would Be Like

The major polluting nations were told by Sir David King, Britain's top scientist, that even if we were to freeze global CO2 pollution next year, the world would still face "30 years of floods, heatwaves, hurricanes and coastal erosion."

And This Is What We Can Do About It

BskyB, the Murdoch-owned satellite TV company, has become the first media company to go carbon neutral, by purchasing carbon offsets for its relatively modest emissions. More importantly, its CEO, James Murdoch, has promised to use its megaphone to "bring the climate change debate into the household."