Not so clean

The Snohomish County PUD, which supplies electricity to the people of Snohomish County and Camano Island, relies almost exclusively on renewable resources, hydropower being the principal component. The only fossil fuel used comes by way of market purchases, a small slice of the utility’s overall portfolio.

However commendable the achievement, which I have wholeheartedly endorsed as one of the utility’s policy makers, the rest of the world is clearly losing the war against carbon emissions. Consider this chart from a recent article in Vox:

global_energy_use_by_source.0

President Obama has sought to curb greenhouse gas emissions by means of the Clean Air Act. Even though final rules have yet to be promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency, coal states have sued the U.S. government. This, from the linked New York Times article:

Patrick Morrissey, attorney general of West Virginia, which is leading the states’ petition against the E.P.A., said the agency is trying to exploit the ambiguity in a law to enact sweeping regulations that could transform the American energy economy. “They are trying to bring life to a clerical error,” he said. “Now it’s being used to put forth a major transformation to American energy policy — and to cause harm to West Virginia.”

Opponents of the rule say they are optimistic about the outcome in part because of the judges presiding over the case. All three were appointed by Republican presidents — two by President George W. Bush, and one by his father.

We know that Congress will not act to curtail emissions. If the courts side with West Virginia and others, the executive branch may be neutered in its attempts to combat climate change. Then it’s business as usual as the world warms.