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Saturday the House of Rep. passed several bills requiring utilities to up their renewable energy contributions by 15%, cutting $16 billion in subsidies to oil companies (because they really do need the money…) and outlawing 100 watt incandescent light bulbs by 2012. Despite the innocuous content of the bill, President Bush has promised a veto if it passes the senate.
Why is this bill innocuous you might ask? Well, first it fails to address the biggest greenhouse gas emitting source: automobiles. Raising the MPG standards would not only significantly decrease the environmental impact from the American auto fleet, but would also create a huge economic benefit as we reduce our dependency on foreign oil, insulating us from OPEC price spikes and create thousands of new American jobs. See more on this Win-win-win situation.
The 15% renewable energy portfolio standard increase should be doubled. Instead of subsidizing oil companies and gasoline, subsidies should be moved towards renewable, achieving a 30 or 50% renewable energy mix for utilities, but enabling utilities to only pass on a fraction of those costs to consumers.
Finally, Australia has already banned all incandescent bulbs by 2010. As the worlds most developed country and free market economy, it is time we took the lead on at least one environmental issue. Just like our lagging auto makers, our politicians are content to play follow the leader, adopting small measures (we could call them eco appeasements) for show, while refusing to implement any significant change. Australia represents the second worst carbon emissions per capita behind the U.S.
What does this mean for us? The reality is, in 2008 we have to vote! The current government agenda has been clearly big business, big oil and anti-environment from the beginning. Surprised? Furthermore, until the 2008 elections we need to vote with our feet, pedals, public transportation and wallets. America is a consumer driven nation, and when we consumers get behind an idea with our dollar bills politicians and big business alike take recognition. Green jobs are surfacing and they will continue to drive the next economic boom provided we continue to support the environmental movement from the ground up and the top down.
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