Tuesday, June 30, 2009

ACES Massive Failure: No Nukes

Betting Blind on ACES describes the sausage-making process of side-deals and payofss used to make the cap-and-trade-and-tax-regulate Waxman-Markey bill, also known as ACES. Among the many dangerous provisions of this assault on the middle class and working families was this:
Among other things, Waxman-Markey would impose a federal renewable-portfolio standard, requiring 15 percent of electricity from each utility to come from renewable energy sources, and an additional 5 percent to come from conservation and efficiency improvements.
Here's the problem: That's an expensive and wrongheaded way to address CO2 emissions. Only certain 'renewables'? The smart way would be to look at ANY ALTERNATIVE THAT REDUCES CO2 EMISSIONS and treat them according to the CO2 reduction. (That is, if your goal is CO2 reduction and not some other hair-shirt eco-extremist de-industrialization goal.) Accordingly, you wouldn't have a renewable mandate so much as alternative or GHG-free energy mandate. That would include 'clean coal', nuclear, hydro, as well as the much-subsidized wind and solar.

Now, Rep Bilbray had an interesting amendment that if enacted could have solved the US contributation to the hypothesized global warming problem. Rep Bilbray extended the definition of 'renewable' to include nuclear and then increased the renewable mandate percentage so the mandate would have a truly significant impact on reducing CO2 emissions from power plants. This one simple provision, which probably is only a few pages could replace this entire 1200 page monstrosity and yet do more to reduce CO2 emissions. You see, almost half of our CO2 emissions comes from power plants; the CO2 emissions are directly linked to the type of power plants built. Build coal plants, get lots of emissions; build gas-fired, get less; build nuclear, get zero CO2 emissions. Nuclear energy is responsible for more CO2 emissions reduction than any other form of non-fossil-fuel energy. I have stated previously on the blog that the solution to global warming was simply to build 400 nuclear power plants. Change 70% of our baseload electricity generation to nuclear, and we will have cut US CO2 emissions almost in half, a more than adequate goal for 2050.

I have described this bill as a "all pain, no gain" bill. It will create huge regulatory overheads, massive cost-shifting, incentivizes shipping industrial jobs overseas (refinery companies have said directly that this bill will make us import refined fuel instead of processing it here, in effect exporting the oil refinery business). And what's the 'gain'? To global CO2 emissions, almost nothing. ACES is a failure on many levels, but its failure to even do the job the bill is supposed to is perhaps the worst. Fixing the renewable mandate to include nuclear would be a major improvement that would go a long way

This Pelosi Congress is incapable of doing anything right, so the best hope is for this bill to hit a quagmire in the US Senate. Unfortunately, that is less likely now that the Senate Democrats have 60 Senators, a filibuster proof majority.

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