Carbon and Climate Continue to Create Controversy

Late last month, President Obama addressed the United Nations Climate Summit and just a few days ahead of that, EPA announced that it has extended the comment period on the Clean Power Plant proposed rule to December 1, 2014. The proposed rule has been a lightning rod for the climate change controversy in the United States as it focuses on the effects of existing coal-fired power plants. It has also served to draw attention to efforts to move toward renewable sources of power and possibilities and pitfalls there. The proposed rule and related actions proposed by the Obama Administration, have generated considerable debate within Congress and a number of proposals intended, in one way or another, to prevent them from taking full effect. Indeed, individuals in Congress continue to express skepticism about whether human actions are contributing significantly to global warming. For example, see recent statements, testimony, and exchanges between members of the Science and Technology Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives and White House Science Advisor John Holdren. Nevertheless, the issues related to global warming have brought some attention to energy conservation and renewables as having potential to provide some alternative solutions. Indeed, the Stanford University Policy Center has recently published a report identifying 12 actions that individual states can take now regarding renewable resources and energy economies that could have collective positive effects on the global warming issues. However, what government does, it can sometimes undo. A report from Vice-USA reveals the changing situation of solar power in Australia, a country that became a leader in that alternative resource, but which has seen projects diminish, apparently due to recent efforts at deregulation. This indicates that government actions can undo a sector that had emerged and was apparently expanding. While solar power has not evolved substantially in the U.S. at this point, actions intended to protect existing power sources might have a similar effect on such things as natural gas as an alternative fuel source as well as the development of geothermal power.

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