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View Diary: Al Gore rocks the house in Boise (292 comments)

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  •  I doubt that would work. (2+ / 0-)
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    Rick Oliver, spiraltn

    It is not companies that are consuming the fossil fuels.  It is the American people.  Companies need incentives that reward innovation and clean energy solutions.

    •  nope (0+ / 0-)

      companies need to follow the rules laid down for them. Market solutions have failed to address the problem, hell, we can't even get companies to admit they are causing the problems. Instead they hire scientists to come up with research that says global warming is not a  man made problem.

      We need to set some strict rules that the companies must follow.

      absolute freedom for one individual undoubtedly limits the freedom of another.

      by jbou on Tue Jan 23, 2007 at 02:39:16 AM PST

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      •  Concern troll n/t (1+ / 0-)
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        •  BS (0+ / 0-)

          and whoever invented the phrase "concern troll" should be kicked.

          Not really. But this crap drives me nuts. He/she has a different opinion of what will actually be effective than you do, that's not "trolling".

          Frankly, I tend to agree that the government hasn't been nearly aggressive enough in forcing companies to suck it up and make more efficient vehicles. There's a big place, IMO, for incentives and the like, but sometimes they're not enough on their own for the quick action we need in this case. That said, I think regulation is far more complicated than "pass a law".

      •  As someone whose entire career (12+ / 0-)

        has been spent working with corporations and governmental agencies implementing environmental regulations, let me shed a little light on how regulatory solutions to environmental problems actually get implemented.

        First, laws are passed and regulations are written.  These need to be carefully drafted to be effective while being achievable and while not causing adverse unintended consequences.  That three way balance -- triangulation, if you must sneer at the term -- is a very difficult balance to reach.  

        • If the rules are ineffective, there's no point.
        • If the rules are not achievable either because we've ignored technological and/or economic limits, the results won't occur and there's no point.
        • If the rules require actions that cause adverse unintended consequences, there's a risk things may be made worse than if we had never bothered.  A good example is the requirement to add a certain oxygenate (methyl tert butyl ether) to gasoline to reduce air pollution when it is later discovered that oxygenate causes very difficult and widespread groundwater contamination when inadvertently released.

        Using the nation's response to hazardous waste laws (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act), contaminated site cleanup laws (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act; a.k.a. Superfund) and the Clean Air Act Amendments as a guide, any ambitious regulatory control on a difficult environmental problem will go through several predictable stages:

        1. Legal actions by corporations and governmental entities (generally state and local governments but also other federal agencies, such as DoD and DoE) challenging EPA's right to require action
        1.  Slow progress characterized by the government, environmental consultants, lawyers, and other experts/stakeholders figuring out processes, working through litigation that establishes a framework within which the law and associated regulations can be implemented, and getting some of the simpler problems completed and under their belts
        1.  Progress picks up speed as "the market" realizes there is now enough certainty and enough of a business opportunity to focus on delivering the services that are required
        1.  The number of the businesses (typically consulting and engineering firms) focusing on the problem grows greatly, reaches a maximum number, and then starts consolidating as the market stops growing exponentially and begins maturing
        1.  Most of the simple problems are handled and the regulators and the market begins to confront the seemingly intractable problems that were not tackled initially
        1.  The public and involved parties finally recognize the limits that technology places on what can be done, and a more pragmatic way of handling the most difficult lingering problems arises; typically this is accompanied by another spate of litigation as the edges of the envelope are probed and the true technological/economic limits are identified
        1.  Near stasis - what can be done has been done; a framework, technology base, and well-established set of precedents has been developed that can manage with a fairly high degree of certainty identified problems; experimentation and occasional technological breakthroughs that further expand the margins of what can be done continues

        Corporations absolutely will resist implementing environmental solutions initially.  One perspective is that they have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to resist,  Complying with environmental regulations at a large corporation can cost tens of millions of dollars annually; money that comes right off the bottom line.  Over time, and as steps 1 through 7 are worked through, gradually the paradigm will evolve from "It is fiscally irresponsible to submit to environmental regulation without litigation" to "It is fiscally irresponsible to resist implementing cost-effective environmental solutions."  

        Different corporations have different levels of progressivism.  

        Some will resist every step of the way regardless of what has happened around them - the troglodyte's response.  

        Others leap ahead of the pack and adopt progressive environmental policies well ahead of their peers.  These tend to be either privately held "boutique" corporations or corporations whose customer base demands a certain level of environmental accountability and whose profit margins allow it.

        Most companies are in the middle.  They'll do it, but grudgingly and only after enough of a framework and precedent has been established to allow them a reasonable level of certainty from timing, technology, and fiscal perspectives.

        When I read you say things such as:

        how about a bill that says end the carbon emissions by a certain date or we fine you a very large amount of money? How about a bill that holds CEOs personally responsible for the messes the companies they run make?


        the bill is just another crappy market solution answer to a problem that needs the government to put its foot down and just say enough is enough. Trading pollution for not so much pollution is hardly an answer.

        ...I detect a lack of understanding of how challenging environmental laws are implemented in practice.

        Passing a law that requires that which is currently technologically impossible while maintaining the nation's transportation, manufacturing, and energy infrastructure as well as threatening to throw CEOs in jail for failing to do the impossible is an understandable emotional reaction but is hardly the basis for rational environmental policy-making or management.  

        And - I have no problem with carbon trading as one tool in the toolbox for reducing emissions.  It provides an economic incentive for those whose carbon reductions are within reach technologically and economically to gain from those who (because of the specific nature of their emissions and the national interest in maintaining that function) literally cannot reduce theirs beyond some level.  It's not a sole solution, and I'm unaware of any reputable person who suggests it is; but it most certainly is an element of the solution.

        •  This should be nominated for top comment. n/t (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          la urracca, spiraltn

          If we abandon our ideals in the face of adversity and aggression, then those ideals were never really in our possession. - Cpt. Ian Fishback

          by Rick Oliver on Tue Jan 23, 2007 at 07:17:20 AM PST

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        •  Silver buckshot rather than silver bullet (2+ / 0-)
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          la urracca, spiraltn

          Gore said that last night ... meaning we have many possible solutions, not just one.

          It was a metaphor to which we gun-toting Idahoans can relate, yo.

          If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don't are wasting your time...R Clemente

          by Red State Rebel on Tue Jan 23, 2007 at 07:49:47 AM PST

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