Thursday, September 25, 2008

Why shouldn't Charlotte lead?

I've been taking some time off after working as the editor of the 2008 Citistates Report, which debuted in Sunday's Observer. If you read it, you may recall that writers Curtis Johnson and Neal Peirce suggested the inside-the-beltway crowd isn't going to pass meaningful legislation on controlling greenhouse gas emissions – and thereby save the globe from grave peril – and that the best hope lies with "bold, visionary urban regions."

Or maybe state regions?

This week marks the formal start of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. It's a carbon cap-and-trade program among 10 northeastern states from Maine south to Maryland. Other regions, and California, are watching to see how it works.

But to quote Peirce and Johnson, why not Charlotte? Why shouldn't this region become the first metro region to try something similar? To be innovative on energy? To lead?

If you're thinking "Why worry about all this energy stuff when the nation's financial system is in crisis?" here's a possible answer.

It's a report from my friend, Christine Gorman, a former Time magazine staffer and current free-lance science and health writer, who was at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York.

The plenary session yesterday [Wednesday] was kind of a sleepy affair until Al Gore got all worked up and said "clean coal is a lie. It's like healthy cigarettes" and argued that the current financial crisis is nothing compared to what's going to happen with the environment. "The world has several trillion dollars in sub-prime carbon assets," he says. Then he went on to call for a national "smart grid" for electricity and a carbon tax to reduce the payroll tax.

North Carolina showed some initiative with its Clean Smokestacks Act several years ago, to help cut down on air pollution and ozone. Surely it's time for some similar initiative to deal with the even larger problem of greenhouse gas emissions.


Anonymous said...

Well, the cause of global warming isn't carbon, no matter what Gore and his whacko friends keep trying to say, so this would be a futile gesture. Carbon cap-and-trade is a zero-sum scam that only puts money in Gore's pocket, since he owns the company that "produces" the carbon credits.

Jumper said...

Oh, Mary, you have prompted the troll parade now. This may surprise you, but many of your commenters receive their science from sportscasters, radio personalities, random bloggers, the guy who fixes the garbage disposal, comic books, and voodoo priests. In fact, anywhere but from scientists themselves. That would be too difficult.

Unless they get their science about astronomy from know-it-all rock-grinding engineers, and their geology from electrical specialists. That adds the thin veneer of credibility.

Jumper said...

It is important to keep in place all the Federal and State tax incentives for alternative energy.

One thing many don't know is that this region is one of the best candidates for geothermal heat pumps. And many times during land development, the burial of the heat transfer pipes, the major cost of such a system, can be accomplished at practically zero cost: the developer plans to place multiple feet of fill soil on a site regardless.

Without stepping on toes, developers and builders should be encouraged to investigate this option almost everywhere. And people should be aware that even retrofitting this system is very cost-efficient and energy-saving.

Christine Gorman said...

Sen. McCain just called for a cap-and-trade policy, among other incentives, in his speech this morning at the CGI meeting. "To make the great turn away from carbon-emitting fuels, we will need all the inventive genius of which America is capable." McCain said. "We will need as well an economy strong enough to support our nation’s great shift toward clean energy."

Anonymous said...

Maybe there's a way for the federal government to sue Wall Street to recoup the $39.34 billion in bonuses paid to bungling financial idiots at the end of 2007, and apply some of that to alternative energy research. The bulk go for the bailout.

Or, place a lien on all those Long Island estates, Connecticut farms and tropical vacation hideways bought with bonuses paid before 2007.

Rick said...

Rhetorical question...

Why is it Ok for a local area to attempt to tackle the global issue of climate change where they have zero change of making an impact, but not to tackle a much simpler issue such as illegal immigration where a few easy ordinances would have a major impact?


Rather than attempting something as silly as carbon trading which will fail and only line the pockets of a few, why not do something local that can work?

Make HOV lanes available to Hybrids for a $100/year fee. Make them available for anyone for $1000 per year. The stickers could be distributed by the existing DMV infrastructure with no need for added tolling infrastructure. (Something similar is already done in the DC area.)

Give property tax credits to corporations that make permanent use of telecommuting. Allow the telecommuters property tax credits because their property has now become a business location with business expenses. Charlotte could become the "Telecommuting Capitol of the US" with our high numbers of white collar technology workers and bankers. (The current "gas crisis" would not be an issue for these workers.)

Utilize the existing knowledge base in local NASCAR facilities to promote a "fuel efficiency industry" through testing of biofuels, aerodynamics, and efficiency related engine technology. (This has the potential to create large numbers of new jobs - possibly even in manufacturing.)

Encourage Duke energy to build more local nuclear plants rather than coal. We've already got multiple nuke plants, so what would at least one more hurt?(Of course, the environmental wackadoos would have to get over their objections to that as well.)

The first three are very doable and don't require some unworkable new government body. Then again, the lack of some additional unworkable government body would probably kill any support from those of the socialist persuasion.

Anonymous said...

Rick -- The federal government has a legal mandate to secure the borders and handle all immigration and border issues. The local government does not. It is simply not in North Carolina's or Charlotte's jurisdiction to handle immigration.

The situation on the environment is completely different. There is no clear hierarchy on who should do what, so it makes sense for all players (nations, states/provinces and cities) to do what they think will help the environment.

Nice try on inserting the immigration issue into a blog that has nothing to do with immigration.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:33

Actually rick's analogy is spot on. I believe you will discover that the EPA has the responsibility for clean air and for enforcing air quality standards.

Meanwhile, local law enforcement agencies routinely detain and refer Federal violators. Initial arrests by local law enforcement on Federal violations are common -indeed probably more common than initial arrest by Federal officers.