Friday, June 01, 2007

Is it fair that some states emit so much more global warming pollution?

A fascinating story by Associated Press.

Some excerpts below:

States vary greatly in greenhouse gases

By The Associated PressFriday, June 1, 2007

WASHINGTON — As America struggles with its embarrassing title as world's leader in greenhouse gases, some states spew far more than their share and show no signs of slowing down.

• Wyoming's coal-fired power plants produce more carbon dioxide in just eight hours than the power generators of more populous Vermont do in a year.

• Texas, the leader in emitting this greenhouse gas, cranks out more than the next two biggest producers combined, California and Pennsylvania, which together have twice Texas' population.

• In sparsely populated Alaska, the carbon dioxide produced per person by all the flying and driving is six times the per capita amount generated by travelers in New York state.

In their daily lives, many Americans unwittingly contribute far more to global warming than their neighbors purely because of where they live. The Associated Press analyzed state-by-state emissions of carbon dioxide from 2003, the latest U.S. Energy Department numbers available. The review shows startling differences in states' contribution to climate change. The biggest reason is the burning of high-carbon coal to produce cheap electricity....

The disparity in carbon dioxide emissions is one of the reasons there is no strong national effort to reduce global warming gases, some experts say. National emissions dipped ever so slightly last year, but that was mostly because of mild weather, according to the Energy Department.

"Some states are benefiting from both cheap electricity while polluting the planet and make all the rest of us suffer the consequences of global warming," said Frank O'Donnell, director of the Washington environmental group Clean Air Watch. "I don't think that's fair at all."

He noted that the states putting out the most carbon dioxide are doing the least to control it, except for California.

1 comment:

Joe Richardson said...

While you may be right that those who emit the most regulate the least, you should also look a little deeper at these statistics. For instance, North Dakota produces three times as much electricity as it consumes. Thus, we rank very high because we provide electricity to Minnesota and other states in the region who rank lower. I suspect this is true of Wyoming as well. Read on for an appalling story of the politics out here in one of the top tier CO2 per capita states.

In North Dakota, not only is "global warming" accepted as a phrase tantamount to treason, the legislature passed an appropriation in 2007 (HB1093) by an overwhelming vote to authorize funding for litigation against (while the bill doesn't say it - the discussion was all about it) Minnesota if their legislation (Article 5 of SF145) that places constraints on greenhouse gas emissions from both domestically produced and imported electricity restricts sales of ND coal or coal-fired electricity in their state. The theory is that such action would come under the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution. The legislators completely disregarded notions that what Minnesota was doing was an act of public safety and in self defense.

Now the appropriation is law. Also, in North Dakota's HB1014, Section 18, another appropriation is available to fatten the litigation battle.

The leading owners of coal interests in North Dakota are the rural electric cooperatives who in turn are owned by farmers who would benefit from renewable generation development. However, if you look deeply the cooperatives have insulated themselves from their theoretical ownership through a maize of rules, extensive disclosure requirements (more than any corporate board requires) and other actions. All requirement contracts extending out to 2029 and beyond insure that no distribution cooperative could develop their own renewable generation. There is virtually no state regulations on power cooperatives in North Dakota and, hence, they can use ratepayer money to advertise the wonders of coal through constant support of community programs and incessant media buys. Check it out.