Jul 27, 2010

another year of unsustainable emissions

The cowardly era of United States history enters its third decade. This week the U.S. Senate opted not to pursue long-overdue climate controls in favor of an easy cop out: tightening offshore drilling limits.

Never mind that funding for regulators, a purge of corrupt Bush appointees and hires and the market demise of BP is all that is needed to prevent future Deepwater Horizon disasters, the Senate's decision not to control carbon emissions is perverse regardless of its excuses. Top its cowardice off with the death of Stephen Schneider and a federal court's reversal of North Carolina's win over TVA and you have the worst week in air pollution history since the discovery of Appalachian oil.

Schneider was a truth teller who not only understood the science of carbon gases, but also why people have trouble understanding global warming. He stressed the clear and present danger of rising gas concentrations. He died July 18 on a plane to London. Rather than honor his memory, the U.S. Senate chose to spit on science and continue free abuse of the atmosphere as an emissions dump. The cowardly era remains entrenched despite Obama's plain mandate for change.

The U.S. Fourth District overturned a federal indictment against TVA because it claimed nuisance laws, rather than decade-old Clean Air Act deadlines constituted the force of North Carolina's argument. The court said "the injunction would encourage courts to use vague public nuisance standards to scuttle the nation's carefully created" clean-air laws, so TVA need not obey those carefully created laws. Such logic is the hallmark of corporate ownership of government.

Our Senate is desperate for funds to cover its gross bailout of investment firms. Taxes on carbon emissions, lucrative even at rates imperceptible to consumers, could help offset the damage inflicted when Congress repealed Glass-Steagall in 1999 and set the stage for the current economic collapse, but the Senate lacks courage to pass even a trivial tax on a dangerous practice.

Sustainable emissions are the easiest to accomplish and first necessary goal in a transition to a sustainable economy, but the U.S. Senate and the corporations that own it have no interest in a sustainable future for the United States or the planet. Sustainable futures do not maximize profits nor garner huge executive bonuses.

A truly democratic government would tax elite earnings and pollution; our Senate will not.