Last week's Ely Times article (Co-op warns of higher costs if global warming legislation passes Congress) quoted Mt. Wheeler Power's Kevin Robison saying; “Is it really worth $4000 a year to drop the temperature by 0.07 (degrees) a year?”
Actually, I don't believe this is how things will turn out. But, let's play along with him for a while.
0.07 degrees per year of temperature RISE doesn't really sound like much, does it? But this cap and trade legislation is intended to gradually reduce CO2 emissions over 40 years. For a moment, let's imagine the coal industry gets their way, and there is no reduction of greenhouse gas emissions... 0.07 x 40 = 2.8. That's right, using Kevin Robison's own statistics; if we keep burning coal like there's no tomorrow, the world will be almost 3 degrees warmer in 40 years. In that same 40 years, with these cap and trade laws, we could reduce our CO2 emissions by 70%.
3 degrees may not seem like much, but it is enough to EXTREMELY change our climate. So; you think the West has had a bad drought for the past 8 years? This could mean a much worse drought – for hundreds of years. White Pine County (and the world) could become a very harsh place to live if the world warms by 3 degrees. And it could get even worse. If we're still burning coal like there's no tomorrow 40 years from now, we won't be able to stop on a dime then either.
The intent of this cap and trade legislation is to get us to reduce our burning of fossil fuels (the cap won't even gradually start until 2012). If we choose not to be polluters, we won't be paying $4000 a year more for coal power 40 years from now. We'll be buying power from another source.
The price of coal is rising, and the price of oil (to ship and mine the coal) is also rising. Soon; wind, solar, and geothermal will be cheaper than coal. Cap and trade laws will just make that transition sooner.
Kevin said (online) that the $4000 was calculated for a $160 million per year carbon tax, at $30 a ton (of CO2 over the cap). That's 5 million tons of CO2 per year over the cap. FIVE MILLION TONS! That certainly won't happen right away. And the coal-fired power plant in Delta has already been operating for over 20 years. Shouldn't Mt. Wheeler Power be shutting this coal burner down sometime in the next 40 years? Hopefully, we'll be well below the cap by then – and can trade our CREDITS. Ultimately, if we do the right thing, cap and trade laws will save us money (at other polluters' expense).
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