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Avery Gant
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As the case with some of the posters above, the first few images on CNN were a little shocking. While the article sets a grim tone, the pictures (mainly # 2 & 9) really illustrate the severity of the strain that is currently being placed on populations of fish. The situation appears to be a perfect illustration of the tragedy of the commons; the current system appears to be obviously broken and is not sustainable. Individuals are all so eager to gain a benefit from harvesting the fish that are available to them that they have driven the populations of fisheries into the ground (or seafloor I guess...). A good solution to the problem could be to place limitations on the number of fishermen allowed to harvest fish. Doing so could give these populations a little wiggle room to recover and reach sustainable levels. I am a little skeptical of the effectiveness of this practice, especially if there is no enforcement agency constantly policing the actions of local fishermen in these areas. With bottom-up trawling being used, local fishermen are to catch such vast amounts fish very quickly. Will enforcement agencies actually be able to police these entire preserves? If they cannot, I do not believe this practice will begin to sufficiently slow the rate of oceanic ecosystem degradation.
While I agree with Nick that the start up costs seem extremely high, I do not believe the bankruptcy incurred in California should have a large saying on the construction of the plant. BrightSource energy does not appear to be financed by the state government of California, so they are simply building what they believe will be an economically successful source of energy. The new regulations in California should push these expenses onto energy firms that must either must develop a large amount of renewable energy plants, or close existing plants to reach the 30% limit. I think this article really shows the importance of applying an economic mindset to environmental issues. By requiring a certain portion of the energy sector to be renewable, California has created a new market in their state. I would not be surprised to see larger energy firms continue to expand into this new renewable market. A downside is that these solar plants appear to have a very high start up cost, so it will likely exclude smaller firms from entering. I believe that CA has made a good economical decision with this litigation; and has not failed to analyze the costs as Nick suggests.
A major point that stuck out to me about the article was the emphasis that Tejada places on a grassroots outreach in his previous advocacy campaigns. A common problem facing global climate change is the disconnect between the scientific and common community about the reality of the problem. Tejada's approach towards advocacy would focus on bridging this gap, and raising the common citizen's awareness of the issue. While Tejada focused on poor neighborhoods in this interview, an extension of these enriching practices would serve to benefit environmental knowledge and understanding of the families in all class types. It is exciting to have a young, energetic face as the head of the Office of Environmental Justice. Tejada can hopefully take this position to new heights and bring Environmental Justice new levels of recognition and creditability.
President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to cutting greenhouse gas emissions in his state of the union address last month. This article discusses recent political action regarding cap-and-trade systems and tries to stimulate action towards a carbon cap and trade system. The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 provides support that a cap and trade system can be an economically successful method in reducing emissions (in this case SO2). This vote was passed through bipartisan support from both Republican and Democratic parties. The authors go to note that a cap-and-trade system for emissions was often thought as a Republican idea, in that it accounted for ecological changes through economics. Recent cap and trade legislation has been met with opposition from Republicans. The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (known as the Waxman-Markey bill) included a cap and trade system for CO2 emissions and passed through the House with support from 83% of Democrats, but only 4% of Republicans. Most of this opposition was due to disagreements about the threat of climate change and the costs of the mitigation policies. The use of cap and trade systems to mitigate levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are unlikely to be cost effective, and the bipartisan nature of Congress makes it hard for these systems to be changed to prevent economic losses. However, cap-and-trade systems have been shown as a viable method to effectively reduce emissions.
Toggle Commented Mar 8, 2013 on Another Political Football at Jolly Green General
I find Dylan's comment insightful as he looked at the individual firm's cost to accept higher standards regarding carbon emissions. A $5 billion fee for mining upgrades would pack a more solid blow to smaller coal firms than that sustained by the AEP. If all coal fire plants were required to meet these same emissions standards, it may be economically efficient for a particular firm to stop production and close the plant. With declining output in the coal energy sector there will be room for emergent wind and solar farms and lower emission natural gas drilling sites/refineries. APE's acceptance of closing outdated plants strengthens the movement toward more environmentally friendly energy methods. While it has been stated that this is only a minor victory for this movement, I believe it extends a little more. With AEP accepting this proposal, they have set a precedent for a reasonable meeting ground for existing coal firms. This could also act as the blueprint for new legislation tightening the regulations on carbon efficiency placed on them. The AEP may have just placed a lot of pressure on smaller coal firms.
A cap and trade system seems to be one of the more promising systems to reduce emissions while reducing costs placed on the individual firms. I am strongly encouraged to see a structured political system in the form of the RGGI, which has been able to reduce emissions 20% while creating over $ 1.1 billion in revenue. It seems pretty clear to me that one of the few things the bipartisan American Public Sector can come to an agreement on is providing economic stimulation to existing companies/firms. The RGGI has shown that economic stimulation is possible, if not likely from providing economic incentives to companies that reduce emissions, and that regulation can in fact stimulate economic growth as a whole. I am interested to read the view points of one of these North Eastern firms to see if these regulations are profitable for each individual firm. A good idea for a study would be to analyze each individual firm to see what percentage of them benefited financially through the regulations of the RGGI, to see if it would be easily accepted by other US energy firms. At first glance the monetary returns that have stimulated the economy of the North East by $1.1 billion should be an indication that these policies will likely spread to other parts of the country. It would not be all that unlikely to see similar federal regulation in the future.
Toggle Commented Feb 11, 2013 on Hurray for Market Forces!!!! at Jolly Green General
I believe that the article is interesting in that it shows some evidence that a cap-and-trade system can be a successful short term solution for greenhouse emissions. A problem that I find with the article is that it does not mention the costs associated with a cap-and trade system. A cap and trade system should work to lower pollution; but this does not always occur at the lowest price and is economically inefficient. The prices have probably been fairly severe, likely resulting in the firms demanding that the cap be raised. Since 3/4 proposed changes raise the cap, this seems to be the likely case. I somewhat agree with Jack regarding what he said about some states taking a somewhat of a free ride in reducing emissions. Some states may be better served with other solutions such as offering economic incentives to firms that produce at a lower level of emissions. These solutions are superior to cap and trade methods in that they are able to minimize costs in addition to reducing emissions. If some states were to take these methods it could be superior than the cap and trade methods found in these few northern states, and could potentially give them an economic advantage over northern firms.
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Feb 3, 2013