Saturday, December 01, 2018
The Democrats have started with an anti-corruption, pro-democracy agenda. Here is are other policy changes which can move the country in the right direction. The Green New Deal calls for closing overseas military bases and using the savings to help finance domestic renewal. It demands an end to subsidies and tax breaks for fossil fuel related industries. It insists on an immediate transition to 100% renewables. It identifies the financial system, led by too-big-to-fail private banks, as the main obstacle to economic restructuring. It proposes an alternative public banking system to fund infrastructure, guarantee employment, transition to renewables, offer free education through college, and provide single-payer, comprehensive medicare for all.
I take issue with a 100% renewable policy, It is wasteful to throw away power plants, some costing billions of dollars, in the middle of their useful life. It is risky to depend entirely on new technologies in the face of ongoing climate changes. It is not out of the question that a large volcanic eruption could disrupt solar collection and change wind patterns. Better policy is a mix of electric generation. Its still important to increase the proportion of renewable in our electrical generation mix. One sector in which California is ahead of the country is biomass (wood) burning, which is a renewable resource which recaptures carbon in the growing process. This should also be expanded to include garbage burning. Some environmentalists have resisted and succeeded in killing waste to energy projects in the San Francisco Bay Area, going so far as to kill a project on the ocean outside the twelve mile limit. This is foolish policy. The risks associated with groundwater contamination are longer term and more difficult to address than the air pollution garbage burning generates. Burning garbage rather than burying it is a way to pay for some of the risks of modern hi-tech life rather than pushing every problem down the road to the next generation.
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