Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

A Reuters news report from Friday indicates that Maryland’s Republican governor has signed a bill that will allow Maryland to join a pact with other Northeastern states, including New York, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Maine, in seeking to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by power plants. This group seeks to cap greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2009, and to reduce them thereafter.

Such a bill will likely increase the costs of power in these areas. (Supporters claim potential future savings from “efficiency gains.” Show me the money. If the plants will be more efficient – and provide savings at a cost-effective rate – we would not need laws to make them do this.) As a result, businesses that depend on power to run electric motors will find their costs are driven up. Individuals will have less disposable income after they pay their personal power bills. This can’t be good for business – and why would you want to disadvantage your state when it comes to attracting business and population?

But of course, there is the benefit to the environment, with global warming and all. But wait a minute: what is the benefit to the environment of a reduction in CO2 by only power plants, and only in these few states? Annapolis, we have a problem.

The putative benefits would appear to be entirely political in nature. It may make some folks feel good to pay that extra power bill. But query: is this belief grounded in the least on any sound scientific basis? Will the reduction from power plants alone have any tangible benefits for the Maryland economy? If I were a resident, I would be calling my representative and asking for an explanation.

As a side note, I wonder if the hunting enthusiasts should be advertising that their hunting exploits save on valuable CO2 emissions. And perhaps the vegetarians would be at a disadvantage – look at all those plants they are killing, thus preventing more oxygenation. I imagine that some of the movie stars will be coming out to Maryland to support the governor – on their jets no doubt.

But seriously, folks, there is an energy option that provides no CO2 at all: nuclear power. Are the supporters of the initiative closet nuke enthusiasts? This is a hard one for me to figure out.


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