The big post-election buzz among climate wonks is that the change in congressional leadership will significantly accelerate the arrival of more comprehensive climate policy action in the United States. Previously, those close to the issue were looking forward to ’08 as the first opportunity for any sort of substantive action. Now there’s a general feeling that we could see major legislation within the next two years.
Wishful thinking? Perhaps. The main hook that people are hanging their hopes on is the removal of James “global warming is a hoax” Inhofe from the head of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Although Inhofe was undeniably a huge impediment to progress on global warming, I’m not bold enough to hazard any guesses as to what the next two years will bring. Certainly the sense of renewed optimism is refreshing, and between RGGI and the California Global Warming Solutions Act, it does feel as though we may be turning a corner.
Other post-election climate tidbits:
- A former wind engineer by the name of Jerry McNerney won a seat in California’s 11th district. The victory has been billed as “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” with a hefty dose of poetic justice — McNerney kicked out Richard Pombo, who used to unhelpfully chair the committee responsible for writing environmental laws.
- California’s Prop 87, which would have established a tax on oil companies to fund alternative energy research, went down to resounding defeat in California. Oddly, the defeat is being hailed as a victory for alternative energy “awareness” by just about everyone, including those who opposed the measure. Said one such anti-87 group: “If you don’t understand the need to develop alternative energy, you need to get on board the love train.” Ironically, the love train is powered by coal.
- Boulder, Colorado, passed the nation’s first carbon tax. The tax itself, estimated at $1.33 per month per home, is unlikely to alter anyone’s lifestyle significantly. But the proceeds will be used to conduct energy audits, which hopefully will have a positive impact.
- Washintonians passed Initiative 937, requiring large utilities in the state to derive 15% of their power from renewable sources. Washington already derives 66% of its electricity from hydroelectric, but this is excluded from I-937 requirements. Go figure.