We now report that politics have yet again become a road block on the path to a forward-thinking energy policy. Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced last week — with John Kerry by his side — that the Senate will officially be shelving the hopeful Climate and Energy Bill in favor of an all-but-unrecognizable version that the Democrats believe they can get past the Republican opposition. The new version — which has put aside most of the important issues — hasn’t been completely outlined yet but we can assure you that the “climate” part of the bill has been slashed by a red pen and that the only energy source left intact makes us cringe — natural gas, a green energy source? We hope you’re as flabbergasted as we are – read on for an in-depth report.
Senator Reid is expected to release a new version of the bill this week that includes measures that ensure BP pays for the oil spill in the gulf, increase energy efficiency standards, and bring incentives to individuals and the market for the mass proliferation of natural gas-powered vehicles. We’re all for making BP pay, and we love energy efficiency standards, but the natural gas part of this measure has us inflamed. Though natural gas may be the cleanest of all fossil fuels, that does not a clean energy source make.
Putting aside the fact that the combustion of natural gas still emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the environmental consequences of obtaining the gas from the earth are dire — as has been pointed out in the poignent documentary Gasland by Josh Fox. The process of fracking pollutes the environment with thousands of toxic chemicals and has the potential to completely ruin many of our clean watersheds. Officials repeatedly try to focus on keeping emissions cleaner without factoring in the huge environmental cost of obtaining these “natural” energy resources.
On top of touting natural gas as our new savior, the bill has pushed aside perhaps its most important measure — limiting emissions from large scale factories and energy plants by way of a climate pricing measure. Senator Reid has noted that there is a possibility that the carbon capping measure and other important issues, like pushing clean renewable energy sources, will be picked up after the upcoming November elections — do we hint a bit of re-election fear in the Democrats words here? A possibility doesn’t seem like enough to us, granted President Obama’s promise at the Copenhagen Climate talks last winter to cut US emissions by 17% of 2005 levels by 2020. With no real hope for a Climate Bill any time soon, who is going to spearhead this reduction effort? Lisa P. Jackson of the EPA has attempted to pick up this carbon issue — repeatedly coming up against brick walls — and President Obama has taken some measures to increase fuel efficiency standards in vehicles, but real nation-wide change must come from a Congress-backed bill.
Though we understand the difficulty that Senate Democrats are having with Republicans — the elephants just keep getting in the way of the donkey train — we’re completely disappointed in the way they’ve decided to respond. The Climate and Energy bill was unveiled just three months ago and they’ve already thrown it overboard. Even President Obama’s administration has come out to say they are disappointed in the Senate’s preemptive failure. With the catastrophic effects of our dependency on oil proving itself in the form of millions of gallons of crude spilled in the gulf of Mexico, shouldn’t this be the time to get a bill passed? If this isn’t the time for a Climate and Energy Bill, then when will be the time? With the Senate Democrat’s backing down after just 90 days like the Cowardly Lion, we’re wondering if the answer is never.