Proposed Clean Economy Act (Maddy Lauria)
Sen. Tom Carper and other Senate Democrats are supporting a bill that would require a sustained effort to reduce carbon emissions to a "net zero" position by 2050. The following account is based on a story by reporter Maddie Laurie that appeared in the February 12, 2020 print edition of The News Journal - critical comments are noted in contrasting font.
The backdrop for the bill is reportedly wildfires in Australia, flooding of Iowa farms this spring, and a string of "new global temperature records." Sen. Carper is quoted that “this should be an issue that unites us, not divides us,” although the bill would expressly conflict with the energy policies of the Trump administration.
The premise for the legislation is that carbon emissions from the human burning of fossil fuels have been building up in the atmosphere since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, and said heat-trapping gases are inexorably warming the climate. Barring decisive corrective action, according to various sources including the UN-sponsored International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), look out for catastrophic results (loss of life, extreme weather events, flooded shoreline cities, etc.)
The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from human activity by implementing policies that would enable the US to attain a "net zero" level of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Not all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions can be eliminated, e.g., humans emit CO2 with every breath they exhale, but those that remain would be offset by sequestration (burial) of carbon emissions from power plants and other IPCC-approved measures. Note that the cost involved has not been quantified, nor is it clear who would be expected to pay the tab.
It might be more meaningful to envision reducing carbon emissions vs. greenhouse gas emissions because (1) water vapor is the principal greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, and (2) no one is proposing to restrict water vapor emissions.
Also of interest: CO2 is a natural component of the atmosphere (currently about .0415% vs. about 0.3% at the start to the Industrial Revolution), essential for life as we know it, and no credible explanation has been offered as to how this increase could have become the prime driver of global climate vs. fluctuations in solar activity and other natural factors that have resulted in climate changes over the ages.
Global warming is supposedly accelerating the rate of sea level rise (especially in Delaware). But the primary cause of flooding events is storms, not sea level rise, and the observed land losses along the US coastline reflect land subsidence as well as rising water levels.
Carper reportedly says his Clean Economy Act would support the American economy and job growth by encouraging innovative businesses that could help reduce carbon emissions. Experience has shown, however, that projections of green job gains from the use of “renewable energy” almost invariably ignore the loss of existing jobs in other sectors of the economy. There is nothing to indicate that this case is an exception.
Ancillary benefits: reforestation and wetland restoration projects, encouragement of farming practices that could help trap carbon and improve environmental resilience, fair labor policies, and relief for minorities and lower-income communities that often bear the brunt of environmentally irresponsible policies. As advocates of smaller, more focused, less costly government, SAFE questions whether government intervention in all of these areas would necessarily produce net benefits.
At the state level, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control will be seeking public input in early March re a proposed expansion of the Renewable Portfolio Standard that would raise the renewable energy target for electric power distributed in Delaware from the current 25% in 2025 to 40% in 2035. To date, no credible case has been made for this proposal. It wasn't made at a public discussion session chaired by Sen. Harris McDowell on 5/10/19, nor by DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin at a talk to UD engineering students on 10/28/19, nor in Governor John Carney's State of the State Address on 1/23/20.