Year 3, Month 1, Day 16: The Winnah!

The San Antonio Chronicle notes the recent release of EPA data on GHG emissions. Texas, of course, is number one:

As the nation’s light switch and gas pump, Texas releases far more greenhouse gases into the air than any other state, according to federal data released Wednesday.

Texas’ coal-fired power plants and oil refineries generated 294 million tons of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in 2010, more than the next two states — Pennsylvania and Florida — combined, the data shows.

The Environmental Protection Agency released the data by industrial facility for the first time as part of a broader effort to reduce emissions linked to global warming.


The American Petroleum Institute, a leading industry trade group, said the federal data proves that there is no reason to include oil refineries in any new rules because they generate a small fraction of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, compared to coal-fired power plants.

“Air quality continues to improve, and we’re doing our part,” said Howard Feldman, API’s director of regulatory and scientific affairs. “The last thing we need now are more burdensome or unnecessary regulations that will create a drag on business efforts to invest, expand and put people back to work.”

The American Petroleum Institute should go f**k itself. Sent January 12:

In a macro-scale version of the “My carbon footprint is bigger than your carbon footprint” bumper sticker, Texan exceptionalists will surely savor the news that their state ranks highest in the country in greenhouse emissions. American exceptionalists, meanwhile, must comfort themselves over our country’s loss of first place in global CO2 output with the knowledge that we are still number one in per capita releases of greenhouse gases.

Obviously, this is a foolish straw-man argument. But the American Petroleum Institute’s response to the EPA is pretty silly, too; they’re basically saying, “Since we’re not as bad as coal, let’s end all those burdensome regulations!” Once freed from regulation, of course, they’ll be free to pollute more comprehensively.

Ultimately, however, the ultimate absurdity is that in order to maintain our growth-driven economy, we’re prepared to trigger a greenhouse effect of a magnitude unprecedented in human history. That’s not silly. That’s suicidal.

Warren Senders

Month 8, Day 15: Shhhhh! Don’t Mention The War!

Time Magazine runs an opinion piece by Michael Mandelbaum, stating that we must reduce the impact of the Middle East on our foreign and domestic policy. Duh. Naturally, the closest he comes to mentioning climate change is in these paragraphs:

Lower U.S. oil consumption would also weaken oil-dependent leaders outside the Middle East who pursue anti-American policies: Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Vladimir Putin of Russia. While the world will not be able to do entirely without Middle Eastern oil for many decades, substantially lowering the amount of oil we use would reduce the region’s significance while shifting the balance of power between producers and consumers in favor of consumers — that is, in favor of the U.S. and its friends. (See what Barack Obama needs to do to improve five international areas.)

The best way to reduce oil use is to raise the price of gasoline. People would then use less of it. In the short term, they would drive less and make more use of public transportation. Over the long term, they would demand fuel-efficient vehicles. At the same time, higher gasoline prices would make renewable fuels like ethanol and electrically powered cars economically viable.

While West European countries and Japan impose high taxes on gasoline, the U.S., the world’s largest consumer, does not. Compared with what the U.S. national interest requires, gasoline is ruinously cheap for Americans. The refusal of the U.S. to charge itself as much for gasoline as is good for it (and for other countries) is the single greatest foreign policy failure of the past three decades.

So I wrote a letter trying to draw a connection.

Michael Mandelbaum has perfectly articulated almost all the reasons that America needs to transform its relationship with the Middle East. He notes correctly that US petroleum pricing polity is self-destructive — by subsidizing fossil-fuel consumption so heavily, we’ve created an economy in which waste is rewarded, with all-too-predictable results. Cleaning up after the past century’s profligacy isn’t going to come cheap, and coping with the effects of global warming (heatwaves, fires, floods, catastrophic storms, oceanic acidification, and drought, to name a few) is going to be very expensive indeed. We (and our children) will be paying the bill for the energy we (and our parents) thought was almost free. It’s too bad that Mandelbaum didn’t mention the looming climate crisis, for of all the consequences of our addiction to Middle-Eastern oil, global climate change is the one which will do the most damage in the long run.

Warren Senders