April 1, 2010
Scientists who study climate change have warned that continuing to spew greenhouse gases at will could be hazardous to our health – or at least the health of our planet. Failing to curb carbon emissions could be this generation’s great regret, they argue.
But in Texas, a number of state leaders stand firm in their belief that carbon limits would cripple our economy. Businesses would rue any effort to regulate greenhouse gases, they argue.
So far, this all-or-nothing climate change conundrum has netted Texas next to nothing in terms of state-sanctioned efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
But an innovative effort aims to show that it is possible to have it all: limited emissions and savings. The state comptroller’s office is working with an advisory committee to evaluate strategies that have the potential to reduce greenhouse gases and costs.
This process is a result of legislation passed last year. State Sen. Kirk Watson, an Austin Democrat, dubbed this his “No Regrets” bill as he managed to stake out elusive common ground in the climate change debate.
Incredibly, a number of state leaders see little impetus for reducing carbon. But they don’t oppose reducing costs for consumers and businesses. So, Watson sought to do both, arguing: What’s the worst that can happen? We save money?
The state has solicited suggestions for cost-effective carbon-cutting ideas. The comptroller and the advisory committee now are assessing the strategies. The proposals submitted range from relatively simple, consumer-targeted ideas such as requiring auto insurance companies to offer mileage-based policies to narrowly focused technical strategies such as “closed loop storage tank degassing.”
The rules for all the proposals are simple: They must reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They must result in net savings – or at least yield no additional cost.
The study group also is considering ideas that have been implemented in other states.
For its part, the Environmental Defense Fund submitted a 79-page document detailing a number of strategies, complete with detailed charts, analysis and references. The organization took this opportunity seriously. In fact, everyone should.
In a state that has been averse to cutting carbon emissions, this is an important opportunity.
While the comptroller’s office and the advisory committee are doing most of the heavy lifting, everyone is invited to play along at home as this process continues. The study group is seeking comments about the proposed strategies.
For too long, Texas has been the king of carbon. We’re the uncontested No. 1 when it comes to dumping greenhouse gases into the air. And even the Environmental Protection Agency’s declaration that CO2 threatens public health has done little to curb our carbon habit.
But the promise of savings should be a needed push in the right direction. If the state can reduce carbon emissions and costs, we certainly won’t regret it.