White House Covers Up $2 Trillion Global Warming Benefit

Wed, 2008-07-02 14:43Kevin Grandia
Kevin Grandia's picture

White House Covers Up $2 Trillion Global Warming Benefit

Given the massive public outcry over gas prices, the public will no doubt be furious to find out that a plan to save energy and money has been kept under wraps by their own government.

The White House has been sitting on a document for more than 6 months now that estimates a long term savings in excess of $2 trillion through 2040 if the federal government was to enact tougher greenhouse gas regulations for new automobiles.

In the report (you can download Part 1 here and Part 2 here) the Environmental Protection Agency found that:

- technology is readily available to achieve significant reductions in light-duty vehicle GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions between now and 2020 (and beyond);

- the benefits of these new standards far outweigh their costs;

- owners of vehicles complying with the new standard will recoup their increased vehicle sosts within 3-7 years, and;

- new standards would result in substantial reductions in GHGs.

The Wonk Room at Center for American Progress has more.

Comments

I wonder which it will be?

It strikes me as rather absurd that many people are so ardently against carbon taxes and the like. Some make the intelligent point that market economics can price gas into a zone where it will be used very efficiently and GHG emissions will plummet. At least, it seems intelligent, until one recalls that the same people are really just used to consuming a gigantically subsidized resource. If the actual price of gas included all those pesky side effects currently treated as externalities, then perhaps a carbon tax would not be needed. Heck, let’s forget about the carbon tax after all, if only we all agree to pay for the real costs of energy. Which, incidentally, would be way, way higher than the pittance of the tiny taxes proposed or just recently implemented in BC.

In fact, perhaps we would have started realizing some of the very savings that efficiency brings if we weren’t so addicted to perverse subsidies. But that’s the silliest thing of all: people arguing against mandatory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are arguing against efficiency and arguing for the retention of a kind of welfare state for energy. You’d think all those right wingers would really prefer to be self-sufficient, rather than rely on government handouts to pay for much of the actual price of gas themselves.

But that would require self-reflection and abandonment of hypocrisy. Not always the deniers’ strong suit. Honest people, on the other hand, could make real progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions if only the barriers to efficiency were a little easier to cross.

JTK

Tougher greenhouse gas emissions were just enacted for vehicles in the USA … the new CAFE rules.

… we have so much catching up to do. The courts slapped the US Gov’t pretty hard over their “capricious” work on the proposed standards and they ended up being better than they would have been (35 mpg by 2020).

But this does nothing to encourage efficiency using meaningful economic incentives to make the price of energy reflect the… price of energy. Why is energy so massively subsidized and its costs so flagrantly ignored? No doubt, counting all those costs would be really difficult but we could make a reasoned estimate.

Seriously, I bet the carbon tax would be almost unnecessary if energy costs bore a stronger resemblance to post-1950’s, “the world’s energy resources are not infinite and the environment is not a limitless sink” thinking.

JTK

= Why is energy so massively subsidized and its costs so flagrantly ignored? = - JTK

To lift masses of people out of poverty, energy *must* be cheap. Overly expensive energy = huge increases in poverty.

And, energy is not really subsidized much. Coal is very plentiful and easy to get at making it cheap which is why so many countries use it. Saudi oil is dirt cheap to obtain but newer sources like the Alberta oilsands cost much more.

Serious consideration of C02 as a pollutant is something that has only been in vogue for about 2 decades, and if it is as nefarious in large quantities as we are told, the cost to all consumers for oil and coal will continue going up dramatically.

“The Wonk Room at Center for American Progress has more.”

Oh, look. Another liberal “think tank”, funded by George Soros, is promoting increased government meddling and taxation based on Global Warming hysteria.

They don’t call you guys watermelons for nothing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OA6v7BVBcEU

At least “ROB” makes his perspective clear - sure, dude, everyone who believes mainstream science is an hysterical communist. Riiiiight….

Paul S: I think we can honestly disagree on this point. My view is that energy is really quite strongly subsidized from the perspective that the costs of its use are discounted. This is getting a bit far from my field, but the “externalities” of energy use are very substantial and should be included in the cost of energy. I agree that coal, for example, is quite cheap, but its costs environmentally and in terms of human health are very large. The provincial medical establishment in Ontario reckons that about (this is their best guess, wrong of course, but the point is that it is a large number) 10,000 people die of air pollution-related ailments every year and a LOT more lose work days because of illness. Coal-fired plants are a big contributor to this problem. Probably even more serious in other parts of the world.

I don’t believe the argument that energy should be cheap to lift people out of poverty. I think the way to encourage reasonable consumption is to make the costs of that consumption reflect reality to as great a degree as possible. Reasonable people can differ on where exceptions to this argument should be made. By making it easy to consume a lot of energy cheaply and hard to use low polluting or non-polluting alternatives, which is the current situation, we innovate more slowly.

That’s my view.

JTK

= I don’t believe the argument that energy should be cheap to lift people out of poverty. = JTK

It has to be cheap or else few will escape poverty. Because coal is cheap (or has been) China has been able to lift massive numbers out of absolute poverty.

Canadians too could see a significant increase in poverty here if energy costs get too expensive as the current high cost of oil is close to pushing our economy into recession.

If there is a great breakthrough in energy that would be great, but innovation can not always be forced.

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Greenpeace USA has released a major new report on an under-discussed part of President Barack Obama's Climate Action Plan and his U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carbon rule: it serves as a major endorsement of continued coal production and export to overseas markets.

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