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Green Party: Obama and Congress wrong onclean coal’, nuclear energy, and emissions trading

Excerpts from a Green Party of the United States press release:

Green Party leaders, while praising President Obama’s efforts to focus public attention on emissions and the climate crisis, said that the White House and Congress are either going too slow or in the wrong direction on many energy policies.

CAR EMISSIONS

Greens said that the President’s plan for new emissions and mileage standards for cars and light trucks is a step in the right direction, but falls short.

“The new requirements will have minimal effect unless we also see measures to reduce car traffic, such as regionally sensitive carbon taxes, congestion taxes, a halt in new highway construction, and — most urgently for working Americans — a massive public transportation project to replace the reliance on cars,” said Wes Rolley, co-chair of the Green Party’s EcoAction Committee.

COAL

Greens have expressed dismay over President Obama’s embrace of the ‘clean coal’ myth promoted by the coal industry.

“Clean coal is a PR fabrication.  The environmental effects of coal extraction have proven disastrous.  Mountaintop removal and strip mining have devastated whole landscapes in West Virginia, Tennessee, and other states, destroying mountains, valleys, and forests and dumping poisons into rivers, streams, and water tables.  The amount of energy used to transport energy in trucks and trains adds further pollution.  Scrubbing coal removes some particulates but ultimately doesn’t end the emission of greenhouse gases, the cause of global warming,” said Carl Romanelli, former Pennsylvania Green candidate for the US Senate and co-chair of the Luzerne County Green Party in the heart of anthracite country.

See also: Coal is not the answer, http://coalisnottheanswer.org

NUCLEAR ENERGY

The Green Party strongly opposed the ‘Clean Energy Investment Bank’ legislation sponsored by Senate Energy Committee Chair Jeff Bingaman, Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), and Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM), which would provide unlimited taxpayer loan guarantees for the construction of new nuclear reactors.

Nuclear power is dirty and dangerous.  There is no safe way to handle nuclear waste or mine uranium or eliminate the many security risks they pose.  The Clean Energy Bank will encourage unclean and unsafe nuclear and coal energy, with giant taxpayer-funded bailouts for companies like Duke Power, Southern Company, UniStar Nuclear and Exelon,” said Jill Bussiere, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States and former member of the Kudzu Alliance, which opposed construction of the Shearon Harris nuclear plant in North Carolina during the 1970s.

Along with security problems, nuclear energy is simply too inefficient and expensive as a solution to global warming, requiring massive construction and huge amounts of fuel.  Green Party leaders quoted a June 2007 Keystone Center report: “Hypothetically, an aggressive scenario to achieve even modest global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions would require building 21 large (1,000 megawatt) nuclear reactors worldwide every year for fifty years, and more than five per year (275 total) in the United States…. [T]he amount of resulting waste would fill ’10 nuclear waste repositories the size of the statutory capacity of Yucca Mountain.” (http://www.keystone.org/spp/energy/electricity/nuclear-power-dialogue)

See also:

• “Florida Greens file petition against NRC licensing of Levy Cty. nuclear plant”: Green Party of Florida press release, February 14, 2009 http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID=181 http://www.floridagreens.org

• “Greens blast legislative move to repeal nuclear moratorium; call attempt an effort to undermine renewable energy”: Illinois Green Party release, April 2, 2009 http://ilgp.org/groups/media/ILGPpress-releasses/greens-blast-legislative-move-to-repeal-nuclear-moratorium-call

• “Nuclear Nonsense: Why Nuclear Power is No Answer to Climate Change and the World’s Post-Kyoto Energy Challenges” by Benjamin K. Sovacool and Christopher Cooper, Environmental Law and Policy Review, Volume 33, Fall 2008 Issue 1 http://members.elpr.org/archives/33/sovacool_cooper.pdf

• Nuclear Information and Resource Service http://www.nirs.org

EMISSIONS TRADING

The Green Party has criticized emissions trading (‘cap and trade’), calling it a concession to polluting industries that will impede efforts to curb global warming.  In many instances, emissions trading encourages greenhouse gas emissions, since companies with low pollution will be able to sell their conservation credits to the highest bidders, giving major polluters a license to maintain or increase pollution levels.  Party leaders called emissions trading schemes like the Waxman-Markey “American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009” a capitulation to polluting industries.

Democratic leaders in the US House are planning to give away 85% of the greenhouse gas emission credits.  Giveaways bypass the trading and auction strategies that cap and trade advocates have promoted as a free market solution.  Such allowances are a signal that Congress is more willing to satisfy industry demands and ‘grandfather’ polluters than to demand the necessary extensive reductions.

See also:

• “Good News, There’s a Climate Bill — Bad News, It Stinks” (on the “American Clean Energy and Security Act”) by Daphne Wysham, AlterNet, May 19, 2009 http://www.alternet.org/story/140084

• Carbon Trade Watch http://www.carbontradewatch.org

GREEN SOLUTIONS

The Green Party strongly opposes emissions trading schemes, and instead favors bans on new coal fired-power plants, new nuclear power plants (as well as early retirement of current nuclear reactors), and all mountaintop coal removal. The party endorses a reduction by 90% of mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants by 2012, targeted carbon taxes, investment in renewable noncarbon-based energy technology, and reduction of CO2 and SO2 emissions by 80% by 2020.

The Green Party calls for a reorganization of the US economy that would create millions of new jobs in conversion to safe clean energy, conservation, and expansion of public transportation to replace car traffic.

Green Party leaders assert that President Obama must launch a project to stem global warming that’s comparable to the concerted and internationally cooperative effort to defeat the Axis powers during World War II.  The lives of future generations in America and throughout the world are vastly more important than the current demands of energy industries.

One Response

  1. Car emissions can be cleaner than they are, but the nature of an internal combustion engine burning gas is that it’s going to cough out some bad stuff. Coal is bad — dirty and dangerous to mine, dirty and dangerous to burn, dirty and dangerous for years after as it pollutes the air, water and earth. There is no justification for a nuclear/atomic plant. This is not a safe alternative — basically, they’re trying to make an atomic bomb explode slowly over several decades (gee — that SHOULD work….). Talk with the people living near the Vermont Yankee plant — it’s scary and can pretty much depopulate half of New England when it inevitably melts down.

    Conversely, we have a competely new technology which can generate electricity very inexpensively and very cleanly. In “generating plants” and with controllable and variable output to meet demands. It has only two “waste streams” — one is oxygen, which can just be vented unless there’s a need to capture it to use it for something; the other is carbon which, of course, is the best “food” for growing algae-based biofuels — another great new fuel source.

    Yet, with all the bizillions the government is tossing around and wasting on idiot projects, we don’t get a penny of it so we can’t “prove and protect” this technology and put it to use. Our goal is to license it very inexpensively throughout the world. EVERY person on Earth can benefit from this technology. We also want to tie a number of local or regional initiatives with each license which will address local or regional needs — mostly housing, education, clean water, communications, commerce, etc. Meanwhile, we sit by and watch bankers make piles of tax dollars “disappear” and benefit nothing. We want this to be an “American technology” — but since we are unable to find either private or public financing for the necessary startup work in the U.S., it looks like we need to seek offshore support. (Maybe I should contact the Chinese — they already pretty much own the United States….) How did the United States get into such a mess — and why do we continue to spiral downward rather than supporting valid new technologies which can help turn around the situation? As the king of Siam would say, “It is a puzzlement.”…..

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