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AABE Blog

New Bill, New Chance to Place Blame

May 18th, 2010

As we begin to debate the latest energy bill in Congress, let us not forget the lives that were lost on the oil rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. Our deepest sympathies go out to their mourning families as well as to the loved ones of those who lost their lives in this year’s coal mine explosion in Montcoal, West Virginia.

Supplying our nation’s energy is not an easy endeavor, and thousands of our citizens knowingly take those physical risks to capture the resource that provides the services that keep our economy growing and our country prosperous. The workers on a rig in the middle of the Gulf, the heavy machine operators thousands of feet below ground, and the line men in cherry pickers following an ice storm all deserve our admiration and our gratitude. The environmental damage resulting from the Gulf disaster is nothing short of tragic, but equally tragic is the loss of human life. In light of these events and as we contemplate our energy future, it is important that we remember to acknowledge those who bear the physical risk to keep our economy strong.

Yes, we need to understand what happened and to take those steps that would prevent such calamities from ever occurring again. But, indeed, there is blame enough to go around. Each one of us should recognize and accept that our profligate use of energy is one of the more important contributing factors to the energy and environmental difficulties that we face. These recent tragedies, one in the mountains and one at the shore, will hopefully leave us with a fuller sense of the costs and a greater respect for the risks involved with meeting America’s energy demands. Recognizing what it takes to provide the fuels for the products and services that we rely upon just might make some of us more appropriately esteem the people and companies that too often are publically admonished for only doing what we ask of them.

Don’t Leave U.S.Public Out of Process

May 6th, 2010

America is a nation of innovators. We are also a nation of enormous natural resources. Congress should lead in carefully crafting a climate policy which allows us to effectively marry those two assets, so that we can achieve the kind of sustainable energy and economic future we all desire.

My hope is that our legislative branch will work with all stakeholders to craft a climate policy that will guide this nation’s efforts in managing the emission of greenhouse gases and in mitigating the affects of the climate change phenomena.

A major portion of that policy guidance will assist the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in meeting the responsibilities that the Supreme Court has said it is obligated to take on. One can understand that members of the United States Senate are more than a bit frustrated by the difficulty and the complexity of the assignment. One can also sympathize with Senator Murkowski from Alaska who seems to be fearful of what the EPA will do in the absence of Congressional action. Her constituents, better than many Americans, see the dramatic impacts of the climate shifts that are manifest across the globe.

However, the issue should raise concern — not so much with EPA, as with any process that would purport to move to act unilaterally to manage the world’s most prolific emitter. The Senator is correct to be skeptical of any proposal that is not the product of a very broad, participatory process. And, even though that process might not be the most efficient or the most effective; efficiency and effectiveness are, at this point, less important than the fact that a broad spectrum of the American public needs to have ownership of the process and the product. The only way that we, as a nation, get that chance at ownership is if the Congress steps up to its responsibility and works openly and aggressively to fashion the path forward.

Energy policies and energy technologies are rather complicated. But one thing is quite clear. America and other countries around the globe will need to drive more capital into a diverse array of fuels for the next many decades if the essential needs of people are going to be met. It would be imprudent to implement any regulation that directly discourages investment in our energy industry.
While Washington officials continue to hash out these contentious issues, many American businesses are already working to develop and commercialize cleaner fuels and more efficient technologies. Some are researching ways to produce and distribute more sustainable forms of energy — including biofuel, solar, wind, biomass nuclear, and natural gas. Others are focused on ways to efficiently capture and store carbon or to burn coal more cleanly.

The fact is that the more clean options American businesses and American families have the better off we will be economically and environmentally.

To leave to the administration the responsibility to design, develop and promulgate a system to address the nation’s efforts to manage GHG emissions to mitigate climate change will ultimately result in the public criticism, finger-pointing, and lack of acceptance. Neither stripping EPA of the ability to act, nor forcing EPA to act without Congressional guidance is in the best interest of the people of this or any nation. Unless all three arms of government, executive, judicial, and legislative, are onboard, any efforts will be counterproductive and will only serve to delay effective progress.

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