Swarzenegger Signs New Bill to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Arnold Swarzenegger signed a new bill in California which requires all power companies supplying energy to California to begin using cleaner sources. By cleaner sources we mean advanced coal burning fascilities that emit less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than do present generation power generators. He has also signed a deal with New York and a few other states which will allow for power companies to swap credits with one another, and so allow for a more tolerable financial transition to the cleaner energy power plants. The exact nature of this “swap” is not clear, but it seems to say that if one company should reach a certain level of accomplishment in this direction, then it will be able to sell off that “credit”, obtained from the participating state, to another company that did not reach it’s goals.

The ideas proposed by the Governor are not bad, nor should they be condemned as mere election day publicity stunts. The Governor seems interested in curbing carbon dioxide emissions and is serious about it. The new bill would call for some very significant reductions in Carbon Dioxide emissions in California by the year 2050, but there are certain loopholes designed to allow for the possibility of failure, or for the potential impracticality of such objectives. This too is necessary since there may arise situations which might make it difficult to meet the targets, as sometimes happens, and so there is no point in jumping off a cliff when one can simply take the winding road down to the beach. All in all the new bill is a beginning that could prove to be valuable.

Certainly it is important for the states to consider how they might be able to reduce emissions while possibly making a profit from it. There is no doubt that California’s technology sector has a hand in all of this, and why not. Business is part of the solution. The inovative new technologies will have to come from the private sector. The financial element of this equation should never be ignored. There is in fact very big money to be made from the transition to new fuels, and new technology for the old fuels. California, New York, and a few others have already realized this, and are on the offensive as well they should be. In the end it may prove to be a good move for the states that have moved in this direction.

The question of efficacy in combating global warming however, cannot be put forth in these attempts by the governors of New York and California. In reality these moves are far less than what is really required. A movement by the central government is absolute in determining the ultimate success or failure of such initiatives as far as the overall reduction of greenhouse emissions in the United States. In the final analysis without a massive effort by the central government little can really be done than to introduce the possibility of real changes to the American public bit by bit. Governor Swarzenegger has put greenhouse reduction on the political action map, but getting there is really far beyond his abilities. This capability can only belong to the president of the United States who has the wherewithal to actually move the nation towards that lofty goal. The ultimate reduction of such emissions will depend on how fast we find alternative fuels, and this is a humongous task that only the central government can fully address. But these beginnings by California and New York are a good first step, and there may be a lot to learn from them.

The real issue for California, and New York is how this will affect the various sectors of their population. Given the experimental nature of this legislation it gives those who would assume power in a few years the vista required to make practical decisions based on these opening moves by the two states. In other words this is a good time for people like Hillary Clinton and others thinking about the presidency in 2008 to look and learn. How California enacts this edict in practice could well be worth a world of speculation and good wishes. The little guy cannot and must not be hurt in all of this. Having the little guy in California pick up the tab for the new technology is not going to get the Governor re-elected. There are serious pitfalls here. The worst possible pitfall is to see the fuel bills of small businesses, and average citizens skyrocket to unsustanable levels. This would immidiately spell absolute disaster for any initiatives towards cleaner fuel burning technologies. A word to the wise, dont burden the electorate with financial woes they really dont need in the comming decades. I know that this can all be good for those companies involved in innovation of such fuel technologies, but it can be devastating to average people who might have to foot the bill. This financial burden must be considered and managed before we can seriously talk about greenhouse reductions. Do not lose sight of the fact that some are still not convinced that the apparent warming we see now is actually due to fuel emissions. There is still some room for doubt. Making the little guy pay twenty percent more in fuel bills will not do anything at all to make the eventual transition to lower greenhouse emissions a smooth one. California only recently was faced with devastating crises concerning the viability of her power industry. Hopefully this new bill will not bring these power companies back to the brink again. It is good that the Governor of California has some tie to Tony Blair of England. We would do well to study and learn from the English to see how they managed to reduce emissions and still maintain a steady growth rate for their economy. Certainly the English have proven that they can do it, and that is important. How succesful their program really was however, should be judged more carefully upon closer examination. It is important for us to understand that England used much less fuel than we do for decades now. So I assume it would be easier for her anyway.

In the end what Governor Swarzenegger began is a good idea, taking practical steps to reduce fossil fuel emissions in California is a welcomed first step; but we must proceed with caution. This new political movement can have good effects, thereby helping to point the way to ultimate reductions of greenhouse gasses in the United States, but it can also have very unpleasant consequences, if in reducing emissions the bill also burdens the average citizen of California with unmanageable fuel bills. A possiblity that might make it much harder to ever bring greenhouse emissions down to accepatable levels in the event that popular political resistance to these practical solutions should begin to increase due to adverse economic effects.

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