The Dernogalizer

May 5, 2009

Column: Need for Climate Bill

 

Before the clock strikes midnight

Before the clock strikes midnight

 

Here is my column today on why now is the perfect time to pass a climate change bill to help the economy.  Enjoy!

 

Clean energy: Make the case before it’s too late

MATT DERNOGA

Issue date: 5/5/09 Section: Opinion

I’ve found over the years that timing is not the strong suit of environmentalists. There’s a joke that whenever there’s a global warming rally, it’s probably going to snow. Just a couple of weeks ago, Earth Day became rain day. The earth has been playing coy, saying, “If you want to save me, you’re going to have to work for it.” 

When it comes to clean energy, the economy has been dragging its feet as well. Right when we get a Congress and president capable of passing a strong climate change bill, the economy is jumping off a cliff with a bungee cord made of defaulted bank notes. You can always depend on detractors of regulating carbon emissions, such as the oil, coal, gas and utility companies, to insist this just isn’t the right time. We can’t be burdened by job losses and higher energy prices during a severe recession. By sheer coincidence, I’m sure, opponents use the same argument when the economy is thriving.

This is interesting, considering our policy of not putting a price on pollution in the name of saving manufacturing. From 2000-2008, the U.S. workforce saw a loss of over 4 million manufacturing jobs. Auto companies kicked and screamed at fuel-economy standards for decades, only to witness Japanese carmakers with more fuel-efficient cars come in and take their jobs. Electricity prices rose sharply in many parts of the country without carbon regulation. Oil companies benefited from billions of dollars in tax breaks while claiming regulation would hurt American families at the pump – kind of like what happened last summer with obscene gas prices and no viable substitutes.

We would do well to observe these trends and recognize there needs to be a different way of producing energy in this country. Our economy needs to be transformed and retooled for the global markets of the 21st century. Energy needs to be affordable, abundant and clean. The green provisions of the stimulus bill were a nice spark. We need a lightning bolt. We need a strong climate bill to rescue the economy, and now is the perfect time.

Manufacturing has caught on to this opportunity. Turns out wind turbines are made of steel. Labor groups, such as the United Steelworkers and the Communications Workers of America have teamed up with environmental groups to form the Blue Green Alliance. By investing $100 billion generated from a climate bill into retrofitting buildings, mass transit, a smart eletric grid, wind and solar power and advanced biofuels, 2 million jobs can be created in the next two years.

The reality is the only burden special interest groups are concerned about is their own balance sheets. The question isn’t whether we can afford to pass a climate bill. It’s whether we can afford not to. The truth is, regulating carbon will put our fast-emerging industries at an advantage over foreign competitors. 

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is coming to the campus May 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the Baltimore Room in Stamp Student Union for a Clean Energy Town Hall Meeting. There’s a climate bill with a serious chance of passing, which will start getting marked up in the Energy and Commerce Committee the same day. How’s that for timing? This is your chance to weigh in. Don’t miss it for the world. 

Matt Dernoga is a junior government and politics major and the political liason for UMD for Clean Energy, one of the groups hosting Rep. Hoyer. He can be reached at mdernoga@umd.edu.


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1 Comment »

  1. […] judgement.  Judgement weights facts.  Nevermind that there’s absolutely no mention of the job creating potential of green investments.  Nevermind the value of getting off of foreign oil.  Nevermind […]

    Pingback by Poor Post Op-Ed « The Dernogalizer — June 1, 2009 @ 6:14 pm | Reply


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