The Brookings Institute

Chunk It or Chuck It?

by Marita Noon on October 21, 2010

in Blog

Chunk it or chuck it?

Following the demise of cap and trade, a key initiative touted during his campaign, President Obama has admitted defeat on his proposed climate change legislation. Two main problems exist. First America’s citizens are fearful of his plans to “fundamentally change America.” Then, the topic has been in the public debate for the two years of attempted passage and people have come to see it as a hidden tax. At a time when the country is in an economic war, people know we can ill-afford additional costs.

After Harry Reid announced that cap and trade is dead, the President has begun talking about doing the same basic legislation in “chunks“-think bits and pieces that will slip through unnoticed by a battle weary public. The “chunk” strategy is one more attempt to go around the will of the people. Here a chunk, there a chunk, and before you know it you have cap and trade-or some other policy that digs deep into the taxpayer’s pockets.

Instead of “chunking it,” President Obama and congress, should “chuck it.”

Just released, the “Post-Partisan Power” report, acknowledges the need for a new approach. The collaborative effort is supposedly the result of a “yearlong dialogue” between three well-known think tanks: the American Enterprise Institute (conservative) and the Brookings Institute and Breakthrough Institute (liberal-leaning). Yet, their solutions seem to be rooted in the pre-recession economy. The authors presume that people will be content with fees on imported oil, surcharges on electricity, and paying “slightly more” (all report suggestions). Yet, according to MotherJones.com, most Americans aren’t willing to suffer even bare-minimum level of sacrifice for the good of the planet. ┬áThe “secure funding,” “new appropriations,” and “dedicate revenues” ideas miss the most important point: America is in an economic crisis, not an energy crisis!

Within the report are several viable solutions if America was flush with cash but they fall short when viewed through the filter of borrowing from China to make them happen.

However, we should borrow a few things from China. First, they realize that abundant, available, and affordable energy is essential to growth. So they are building power plants at dizzying rates. Next, the power plants they are building are cleaner and more technologically advanced than anything we have in America-both coal-fueled and nuclear. It has been years since America built a new power plant and the technology, often originating in America, has passed us by while we’ve been trying to push so-called alternative power and increasing the costs of traditional fuels.

The report is critical of America’s dependence on “the same fossil energy sources that have powered our nation since the 19th century” but fails to acknowledge that these same fuels are now used far more efficiently, effectively, and cleaner. We produce more with less energy and manufacture more responsibly than any other country on earth. We have an abundance of these fuels and our wise use and innovative technologies have expanded the resource. Why are we depending on foreign countries for energy when we have it all here within our borders-especially those who despise us?

“How a limited and direct approach to energy innovation can deliver clean, cheap energy, economic productivity and national prosperity,” is the report‘s subtitle.

How about this for a limited, direct approach:

  • Expedite the permitting process for the newest technology in proven coal-fueled and nuclear power plants.
  • Open up access to America’s energy resources.
  • Use our abundant oil and natural gas for transportation fuels.

This will bring “economic productivity and national prosperity.”

Tell Congress, “don’t chunk cap and trade, chuck it!”

Marita Noon is the Executive Director of Energy Makes America Great Inc., the advocacy arm of CARE (Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy), the New Mexico nonprofit organization advocating for citizens’ right to energy that is abundant, available, and affordable. CARE works on energy issues state, region and nationwide. Find out more at www.EnergyMakesAmericaGreat.org.