The Terminator is out to Terminate climate change.
Not news, you say? We know Schwarzenegger’s gone green, you say? Sure, but count the ways. Each week or so, a new facet to California’s campaign to cut greenhouse gases hits the papers. This week, NYT reports that Calif. is reaching out to manhandle electricity suppliers around the western US, forcing them to reduce CO2 emissions if they want to sell any electricity to his state. This is in addition to energy-use reduction initiatives, like solar panels offered on all new-construction homes by 2012.
Here’s the quick and dirty (a five-page-article gets five bullet points):
- The Great Visual to remember: the Granite Fox powerplant outside of Reno, put up for sale before it burned its first ton of coal, because it would have been too dirty to meet the new California regs.
- Cali’s most ambitious law: aim for 25% reduction in total (not per capita) CO2 emissions by 2020. (Taking projected growth by then into account, what’s the per capita on that? 35%? Wow.)
- The new standard that powerplants have to meet: that of a (lingo alert!) combined-cycle gas turbine plant. No coal plants meet that standard now.
- How do you get the electric company to go along with energy-use reductions? Separate usage from profit, and reward utilities that play along with the right to raise rates, increasing their marginal and total profit.
- Cali is also taking on “Vampires” (cell-phone chargers, cable/internet routers, etc.) that drink up energy during the night, with new efficiency regs effective 2007. The effects should trickle east over time, just as California auto emissions did.
Subplot: A brewing legal battle is afoot over a state requiring year-by-year reductions in how much CO2 comes out of cars and SUVs. Opponents say this is a backdoor fuel-efficiency standard, which would be blocked by the federal CAFE standards (which call for much smaller improvements).
Check it out: In Gamble, Calif. Tries to Curb Greenhouse Gases
I gotta say two things: first, I’m not missing Gray Davis so much. Seriously, I’m no Gray Davis expert, and he did get royally shafted a few years back, but he was a little too milque-toasty, consultant-driven and, well, Democratic to have done this. Second, what political poetry this is! Only a few years ago, these same suppliers used speculation and brownouts to extort ridiculous electricity prices from Californians, and single-handedly crushed the career of a guy (Davis) projected to have a real shot of winning the Presidency. Now, the one-time godfather of the Hummer is dishing out the payback and standing out as the leading environmental politician of his generation. Quite a role reversal.
Also, it’s funny/weird/messed up, but true: moderate Republicans are the keys to progress on environmental issues, civil rights issues, and pretty much the whole progressive agenda. The DLC and DNC are worthless, flapping to nobody in particular about faux platforms and message-crafting, and right-wing media has effectively innoculated a third of the country against anything a more enterprising Democrat might have to say. So put your money on Arnold, Mitt Romney, and that gang.
RIP Ann Richards — If only you were the Texas Governor who made it big.
Today’s Green Tip: How many Vampires are in your house?