Wednesday, June 08, 2005

What Makes America Great

I'm often critical of aspects of the US polity. Here's an example of the immense strength and energy of the US federal model.

In 2003, on a party-line vote, Maine passed legislation implementing the New England Governors/Eastern Canadian Premiers Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP). The CCAP, a regional version of the Kyoto Protocol, committed New England and Eastern Canada to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2010, 10% below that by 2020, and eventually by 70-80% or more.

Usual awful science: water vapor represents 95% to 99% of greenhouse gasses, and cutting that by 10% is physically impossible. Of course they mean CO2.

Policymakers have not been concerned that the CCAP is constitutionally suspect, expensive and ineffective. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) crafted the plan and decided not to discuss either the costs or the averted global warming benefits explicitly, but rather to focus on other environmental benefits (such as an alleged reduction in asthma) and to ignore or obscure the likely impact on energy bills. The plan would not be submitted for an up or down vote, but rather implemented piecemeal by executive order, litigation, statute, rule-making and public education.

However, help was at hand.

Representative Henry Joy (R-Crystal) had a different idea and submitted LD 72, An Act to Promote Sound Science in Climate Change Policy.

LD 72 was short (under 200 words), clear and concise: it required that "when the Department of Environmental Protection adopts rules designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the department must issue an estimate of the amount of global warming that will be prevented and the costs that will result from the rules requiring reduction in greenhouse gas emissions."

And the enviro-freaks crumbled.

The result is a first for Maine environmental policy: economic factors will be considered, however faintly. Some minimal increase in honesty, transparency and accountability will be expected. Maine's climate change policy now has at least a patina of bipartisan consensus and legitimacy which it previously lacked.

This shows strong local government driven by scientifically educated pols woks, unlike the centralized bureaucracies run by failed lawyers that dominate Europe.