|Flawed energy bill is a good start|
|Written by Lina Chung Daily Bruin, UCLA UWIRE|
|Thursday, 13 August 2009 10:46|
Last month, the House passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, or the Waxman- Markey energy bill, a flawed but progressive piece of legislation that is aimed at reducing America’s carbon emissions in the fight against climate change.
Though ACES establishes a weak “carbon trading” plan, it is the first comprehensive anti-global warming bill that has a chance at successfully passing in both houses of Congress. And considering the nation’s current environmental state, it’s important that ACES succeeds despite its faults.
America is already behind in the fight against global warming, which means that any effort – even the minimal effort – must be made immediately.
ACES does possess notable flaws. The act creates a “cap and trade” system, which places a cap on United States emissions, and creates emissions permits that can be distributed and traded for monetary value. Companies that go over their carbon limit would be taxed, thereby providing an incentive for industries to invest in green technologies. The failure of this system can be clearly demonstrated by the European model.
The European system failed to establish a strong carbon market, and the global recession further aggravated this situation. Thus, carbon credits were simply sold to the highest bidder – typically larger companies that were the continent’s biggest polluters – and money did not end up in the hands of green technology.
The current concern for ACES is that 85 percent of the carbon permits will be granted as political favors and end up in the hands of America’s most industrial companies, thereby rendering the “cap and trade” system ineffective.
As President Obama stated in a press conference last month, “(ACES) will finally open the door to decreasing our dependence on foreign oil, preventing the worst consequences of climate change and making clean energy the profitable kind of energy.”
In addition to its monetary incentives for polluting less, ACES also outlines provisions for creating energy-efficient buildings and introduces ideas on how to make everyday appliances more eco-friendly.
Though ACES may not be a perfect piece of environmental legislation, it is still an important first step for Americans to get their foot in the door of reducing the risks of global warming.
By not passing ACES, the United States would be ignoring the dangerous tide of climate change, and such ignorance can only further exacerbate the current environmental and economic situation.
We can no longer ride on the excuses of past generations and pay for the environmental damages of past industries.
America has been given a political opportunity for environmental, economic and governmental change. If the Senate were to reject ACES, the United States would simply be telling the world that climate change is not – and never has been – on the American agenda.