Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Over at the Gristmill, Peter Meyer gives us a taste of the new environmental pragmatism:

"Yes, we can have economic revitalization that serves long-term sustainability in the process. But we need to transition carefully and to avoid generating unnecessary economic, political, social, and environmental costs as we change. Like it or not, that means:

  • Not closing all coal mines and coal and nuclear generating plants tomorrow, or next week, or next year (Yes, we can stop building them, but we need to be building their alternatives.)
  • Not calling for federally mandated congestion pricing or anti-sprawl measures or other actions as conditions for federal aid to states and cities (at least not yet ... the time will come)

  • Not telling people to drastically change their lifestyles now (though eventually they will)

  • Not spiking CAFE standards for auto fuel efficiency as far as we'd like and know to be technologically feasible, because U.S. manufacturers will find it harder to jump that high than will their competitors, and we can't afford more U.S. job losses right now

  • Not taxing carbon or oil or gas anywhere near where it should rationally be taxed to include their externalities (economic as well as environmental), unless we can protect households and businesses from those additional costs when they don't have the capital to invest in avoiding them

  • Recognizing that equity breeds efficiency by, at a minimum, lowering resistance from possible allies.

Change is coming, folks, and I'm all for that ... but it won't be easy, and ideological -- or environmental -- purity won't get us where we need to go, not without autocratic control. (Do you want that? We had a taste of tendencies in that direction for the past eight years.)

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