Posted tagged ‘pollution’

Does Burning Money Increase MoCo’s Carbon Footprint?

28 April 2014


Council member Roger Berliner sponsored a set of environmental bills that made it through the council last week.  The worst one — which was passed, of course — requires the county to purchase 100% of its electricity from “clean fuels”.  The current requirement is 30%.

This initiative is all cost, and no benefits.

Based on the county’s fiscal impact statement, the law will increase the county’s energy expenditures in the range of $279,000 – $545,000 per year.  That gets over a million easily, in less than four years.Plaudits to Nancy Floreen, who argued for looking at this from a budgetary standpoint.  None of the other council members thought that was worthwhile.

And what do we get for those millions of dollars? Nothing.   The incremental change from this bill is so infinitesimally tiny that it adds up to nothing. No change in greenhouse gas emissions, no impact on climate change. Zero. Just a meaningless statement and bit of bluster.

So if the environment is not improved, who does benefit from those millions of taxpayer dollars? Well, council members like Berliner and George Leventhal get to crow about their wondrous accomplishment. (Leventhal excelled at playing the pompous windbag on this one.  He called it “the most urgent public policy challenge that we face.”   Really, George? More urgent than homelessness? Crime? Poverty? Educational failures for low-income neighborhoods?)

And certain energy producers, politically favored, get a more than tripling of the subsidy they currently receive. These producers are too expensive to compete, so they work through the political process to extract funds from MoCo taxpayers.

I can understand wanting to reduce emissions from fossil fuels.  I can understand reasonable policy proposals to do that.  But anyone with a lick of sense can also see what is purely symbolic, useless, and wasteful.This is a useless and expensive heap of corporate welfare, that allows the politicians to beat their chests, but accomplishes nothing. Nothing, that is, except take away funds from needs that really are urgent.



Farms and the Bay

12 August 2008

President Bush has proposed cutting back on a $188 million Chesapeake Bay nutrient reduction program. The Chesapeake Bay Watershed Program pays farmers to implement specific management practices designed to reduce the runoff of phosphorus and nitrogen from agricultural fertilizers into the bay. Such practices include planting grassy strips and other vegetation which would filter and limit runoff from farms, and construction of storage units for manure.

Bush has proposed holding off on $23 million of the funding, for budgetary reasons. Senator Ben Cardin is up in arms: [Bush] “is wrong on the science, wrong on our farmers’ needs…”

The state is also spending $25 million on this program (originally appropriating $50M, but then holding back on half for budgetary reasons. And the US Dept of Agriculture has already paid millions ($9M in Maryland alone) to farmers for these activities.

Maybe I’m missing something. We don’t pay manufacturers to install scrubbers on their smokestacks, we expect them to cover those costs themselves. We don’t pay chemical companies not to dump wastes into the Potomac. So here’s my question: Why should we pay farmers not to pollute?