February 22, 2010
One of the ways I make a living is by being a mediator. No, I don’t sit in a room chanting a mantra. That’s a meditator, which is different. (At least, I think it’s different. Let’s just say I’ve never really been called, um, meditative.)
Anyway, when one mediates other people’s disputes, you see all sorts of personalities, emotions and justifications that make it hard for folks to resolve their disagreements. The reasons for conflict are probably as numerous and unique as there are unique people.
One confounding thing I’ve seen is that often, when a person can end a dispute without damaging their own interests and actually get something good out of it at the same time … they just won’t.
They won’t for a variety of reasons – anger, a desire to exercise control, or some dogmatic concept that makes them refuse to consider what they can gain by a course of action.
In politics, it happens all the time. The political dogma (or mantra, if you’re still trying to meditate) overpowers common sense.
Both political parties do it way too much. There’s a solution to an important issue or concern right in front of both sides, but they can’t get to it because they’re dug into political “truths” (which are usually just political talking points). And everyone just ends up in a politically paralyzing trance.
There’s been a lot in the press about global warming and climate change over the last few weeks. This being the political season – and our state’s leadership being our state’s leadership – most of it’s been pretty negative.
But as a mediator, I’m all about common ground and good news here at the Watson Wire. And believe it or not, there’s quite a bit that Texans of all stripes and sizes can agree on when it comes to reducing harmful emissions into our air. Because of that, there’s a lot of good work being done to address the state’s position as the top emitter of greenhouse gases in the country.
During the last legislative session, I authored the only piece of statewide climate change legislation to pass through the legislature. It passed the Senate unanimously, cleared the House of Representatives with just one no-vote, and was signed by the Governor – yep, that Governor – last year.
My idea is that even if you don’t think human activity is contributing to climate change (an increasingly, and amazingly, political question), you can still support No Regrets, and the worst-case scenario is that we’ll all save ourselves some money.
Here’s another way to think about it: Even if you think you have to prove your partisan political bona fides by being against emissions reductions as a general rule, why wouldn’t you reduce emissions if you can save dough?
I mean, surely people don’t favor emitting greenhouse gases and pollution just because they really like emissions or something. It’s pretty extreme to think that being in favor of emissions is cool. Emissions aren’t really something in need of protection
Right now, the Comptroller’s office is putting together a report in response to the bill. As expected, the report will go through strategies that reduce Texas’ carbon emissions while costing consumers or businesses nothing, or even saving money.
The report will look at what other states and countries have done and how those ideas might work in Texas. And the Comptroller’s office asked the public for more ideas. The deadline for submissions from the public was last week. The ideas that came in covered industry, transportation, and building and home energy efficiency.
All together, nearly 50 proposals were handed to the Comptroller’s office. They could provide billions of dollars in potential savings for Texans and result in a cut of more than 100 tons of carbon dioxide (the most common and best known greenhouse gas) each year.
That, by the way, equals what several dozen coal plants emit every year.
Here are a few of the suggestions that have come in so far:
That’s a start, but there are plenty more ideas that are now on the table. The Comptroller’s office will review these submissions and hold at least one public hearing later this year to vet ideas among stakeholders, interest groups and the public.
The state has set up a web site to keep folks informed about the process and what’s coming up – you can find it here. I think a lot of the idea submissions will be posted there too, and I’ll let you know when that happens.
This process shows that once folks get past the rhetoric, emotion and partisanship that has unfortunately come to define this very real problem, they’ll find an enormous amount of common ground. There are a lot of common-sense (and, frankly, conservative) solutions out there that are unquestionably good for business and all of us breathers.
So I hope that everyone – and not just those who already agree with me – will work through this process in good faith and help find solutions that truly are good for all of Texas.
We’ll assure a healthier environment. And at a minimum, we’ll save some walking-around money.