(3Bl Media/Justmeans) - We all know that it is difficult to get anything done in Washington these days, so it should be no surprise to learn that the latest spending bill is packed with disappointing compromises. Raising the limits on individual campaign contributions and relaxing regulations on the sale of credit default swaps and their ilk, is not likely to make life better for most Americans, though they will likely make for some champagne toasts among the Wall Street class, while the democratic process is further eroded.
More damaging, however, are those provisions that encourage the continued emission of greenhouse gases. Â There are two that are particularly egregious; they might be called Christmas presents for polluters. It would seem that all of us got some coal in our stockings.
The first is a provision that overturns protections that restricted the use of US government funds for the construction of coal plants overseas. The bill would ease restrictions on financing through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Export-Import Bank. The previous measure restricted financing to those projects that would be implementing carbon capture and storage (CCS), a technology that has been demonstrated to have the ability to pull carbon from the exhaust stream where it could be stored or sequestered, possibly in large underground rock formations. The technology, which could help mitigate atmospheric carbon levels, adds cost and reduces power output, so without a price on carbon or regulations like the one that this bill overturns, there would be little incentive for developers looking to produce power at the lowest possible cost, to implement it.
At a time when both the US and China are stepping up their commitments to address the problem, this is clearly a step backward. Says Friends of the Earth President, Erich Pica, âThis undercuts one of the most important contributions President Obama has made to climate policy internationally.â