Monday, June 06, 2005

Politics a main obstacle to helping environment

You'd think that if the Governor and the Democrats who controlled the Legislature agreed on aggressively reducing emission in California, something would get done. But you'd be wrong, as the Mercury News' Phil Yost explains:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's targets for greenhouse-gas reduction set off a contest of environmental one-upmanship that had me wondering whether by 2020 California would allow breathing only on alternate days, because exhaling adds carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

It was all the more exasperating because here's an issue on which the governor and Democrats agree: Global warming is a big problem. They can make California a leader on the issue if they can set aside political rivalry.

...And the reaction from the Legislature's greenest Democrats? The governor's plan is all hot air.

After Schwarzenegger's plan leaked out last weekend, but before he made it official Wednesday, Democrats cobbled together a news conference to disparage the executive order as mere words. They say they were ready to lay down even more ambitious, and enforceable, regulations. But they weren't.

...This sort of politics-first drives people nuts. California is so far away from any of these goals, there's no meaningful difference between the governor and the Democrats.

Instead of debating the right target for 2015, how about just achieving a yearly reduction in emissions? That requires using less fossil fuel -- directly or to generate electricity -- in cars and trucks, in buildings and in appliances.

Let's hope this systemic problem in Sacramento can be fixed before we have another Energy Crisis...but I wouldn't count on it!