Kaine Heats up the Global Warming Debate

Global Warming is moving to the forefront of Gov. Timothy M. Kaine’s environmental agenda. His state energy plan released last month set a goal of cutting statewide emissions of greenhouse gases 30 percent from what they otherwise would be by 2025. And Kaine apparently doesn’t intend to let that recommendation collect dust.

At the statewide Energy and Sustainability Conference in Lexington yesterday, Kaine said he intends to appoint a climate change commission to examine the potential impacts of global warming on Virginia and recommend ways to deal with it. “While climate change should be addressed at the national level, I think most governors are just tired of waiting,” Kaine said. “We can’t wait for the federal government to do it.” (See the Times-Dispatch coverage here.)

One specific idea that Kaine floated was to require power companies and manufacturing plants to report greenhouse gas emissions. That made Brett Vassey, president of the Virginia Manufacturers Association, very nervous. Said Vassey: “Our major concern is, you don’t [require] the reporting of something unless you plan to regulate it.”

I understand Vassey’s concern. Politically, it would be a lot easier for Kaine to look like he was “doing something” by slapping limits on industrial emissions. But we’re all responsible collectively for CO2 emissions through the choices we make: how far we drive, what kind of vehicles we drive, how big our houses are, how we choose to heat and cool our houses, and how much we’re willing to spend for energy-saving appliances. Still, it’s better to have solid information than to base public policy on hunches and guesswork. If we’re going to move ahead with a serious Global Warming initiative, let’s have it based on the facts.

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21 responses to “Kaine Heats up the Global Warming Debate”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    This is TOTALLY not true:

    “His state energy plan released last month set a goal of cutting statewide emissions of greenhouse gases, which many believe contribute to warming temperatures, 30 percent by 2025.”

    See http://thegreenmiles.blogspot.com/2007/09/burning-more-coal-drilling-for-oil-and.html for more.

  2. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    hmmm… what’s this?

    Many words cross this blog advocating an immediate end to government waste and pork…

    Since the skeptics tells us that we don’t know squat about what is causing Global Warming.. why isn’t Kaine being attacked for wasting taxpayer money?

    Why don’t the candidates running for office say whether or not Kaine is headed in the right or wrong direction – AND what direction those running for office would lean towards?

    Is Global Warming NOT local politics?

  3. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Anonymous, you’re right. I carelessly repeated what the Times-Dispatch reporter had written. I have corrected the original post to say that the goal is to cut greenhouse gases by 30 percent from *what they otherwise would have been* — a very big difference.

    Larry, you’re right. Gov. Kaine has elevated Global Warming to one of the top environmental issues in Virginia. General Assembly candidates should be staking out yea or nay positions.

  4. Accurate Avatar

    Jim, you are completely correct when you say that each of us is responsible for CO2 emissions – it happens when we breath. So will all the Global Warming whackos please start holding their breath.

    On a more serious note, look at the research (not the nonsense that Gore passes off as research) and you will see that water vapor is the major component that contributes to greenhouse gases, NOT CO2. But that fact doesn’t fit the GW religion so they pretty much ignore that fact. The fact that the earth was warmer during various periods in this planet’s life (before the industrial age) is also ignored. The fact that if the draconian measures of the Kyoto agreement were enforced, that we’d be lucky to reduce the ‘global temperature’ by 1 degree in 50 years – hey, who cares.

    Nothing wrong with conservation, nothing wrong with trying to put out machines and factories that pollute less. It’s wrong to blame global warming on man.

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    Water vapor and CO2 both contribute. Both act like window glass in convertng short wave energy to long waves which we percieve as heat.

    It is not true that CO2 is not a component, but it is true that water vapor is also a component. But, if CO2 raises the temperature, we will have more water vapro as well, so they go hand in hand.

    But because water vapor is a component, we may not get as much gobal warming relief from a hydrogen fuel economy as some people claim.


  6. E M Risse Avatar

    The other water vapor issue that Sometimes Accurate does not raise is that aircraft put out vast quanties of water vapor directly into the upper Atmosphere where there is little mixing and less percipitation.

    Chagre aircraft the full cost of their environmental impact and highspeed rail for inter New Urban Region travel becomes a bargain.

    The EU is all over this, the US of A is stonewalling it.


  7. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Accurate, I’m fighting two battles here. One is questioning some of the underlying premises of the Global Warming conventional wisdom — that the planet is warming rapidly, that climate change is primarily manmade, that the results will be catastrophic, and that the best solution is curtailing CO2 emissions. Each of those is subject to debate, as you no doubt believe also.

    But the train has left the station. Global Warming is now an article of faith among large segments of Americans, including our Governor. So my second battle consists of arguing for a Global Warming strategy that is economically and environmentally rational for Virginia.

    For me, the consolation prize is this: Curbing energy consumption is a good idea even if you don’t share Al Gore’s alarmism.

  8. Anonymous Avatar

    “Charge aircraft the full cost of their environmental impact and highspeed rail for inter New Urban Region travel becomes a bargain.

    The EU is all over this, the US of A is stonewalling it.”

    EMR might be correct on this, but it isn’t a given as he suggests.

    Southwest flies passengers for something like 2.5 cents per mile.

    No regional train system comes even close. I claim dollar costs turn out to be a pretty good predictor of environmental costs, although I conced that there are some cases where it appears that we are not charging appropriately.

    Air travel is cheaper because you don’t have to build, own, and maintain a rail bed. EMR points out that it is also cheaper because it is not being charged for high altitude pollution.

    But even if you could figure out what the appropriate charge should be, it might not be enough to make rail cheaper and therefore less environmentally damaging.

    I suspect that what Ed is really saying is that we should set the charge for flying such that travel by rail IS cheaper. His way of phrasing the problem is merely a clever way to diguise a value judgement. His argument seems correct, but we really don’t know.

    In any case, the best right answer probably means that we need both trains and planes. We should be looking for the correct mix of each, rather than artificially hammering one or the other.

    BTW, the contrails you see are not all a poduct of combustion. Some of it occurs when already present water vapor crystalizes into ice as it passes over the wing.


  9. Anonymous Avatar

    Bottom line, you cannot simoply claim tht aircraft should be charged for their pollution in favor of trains unless you are willing to take into account all of the environmental impacts of trains on an equal basis.

    That means you count up the wetlands, adjacent land value degradation, environmnetal cost of steel and gravel mining, creosote railroad ties, etc. etc. etc.

    By the time you take into account the true net environmental and fiscal impact, trains might or might not look so good.

    Right now, we just don’t know.


  10. Anonymous Avatar

    Just to clarify: Gov. Kaine’s GHG-reduction goal is to cut GHGs by 30% by 2025 from 2000 levels. Other states and cities are trying to reduce GHGs from 1990 levels, so Kaine is actually taking a more reasonable approach.

  11. Darrell -- Chesapeake Avatar
    Darrell — Chesapeake

    So now Kaine is getting all environmental? The state is going green?

    I saw a company stall set up at Tidewater Homearama. They sell solar equipment for residential use. In marked contrast to Kaine and going green rhetoric, a sign posted the reality of Virginia energy policy.

    Buy Solar Now!

    NC tax credits: $16,000.

    VA credits: $4,000.

  12. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    well.. what do you expect?

    The State fired it’s Climetologists for spouting heresey…

    and Kaine.. no doubt after “consulting’ .. no make that “scheming” with Al Gore decided that Virginia is no about to be labelled as a “sluggard” when it comes to Global Warming.

    flash ahead 50 years…

    Hampton is losing 10% of it’s workforce after scientists finally determined that Global Warming is a clever ruse of Nazi Planners and that all the environmental widgets being produced to reduce Global Warming are .. worthless…

    Kaine and Gore.. once highly respected for their visonary approach to Global Warming are now thoroughly discredited and Gov. Gilmore has been forced to fire them from the Virginia Green Taskforce.


  13. Anonymous Avatar

    Gee, for that kind of money you could go to NC buy a home and install solar to get the credits, then dismantle it and send the solar back to virginia, and resell the NC home.

    Then apply for the $4k Virginia credit.

    That way solar might actually pay.


  14. Anonymous Avatar


    “Environmental conspiracy”

    “Proven environmental benefit”

    Without the quotes

    2,300,000 vs 1,800,000.


  15. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “inherent right to pollute”


  16. Anonymous Avatar

    Yeah, Ok.

    “zero pollution” + cost yields 43,700 hits.

    I suggest you read this one

    JSTOR: Zero Pollution: A Tradeoff Analysis

    available at


  17. Anonymous Avatar

    Or you might try this one:


    “Pollution is costly (in terms of health aeesthetics and so forth). Getting rid of it is also costly. Socially, society want so minimze this sum:

    Total costs = Pollution costs + pollution abatement costs

    The socially optimal level of pollution is the level that minimizes thi total cost. Not that the optimum ls elvel of pollution is NOT zero when the cost of achieving zerr pollution exceeds its benefits.”


    “The MC curve is societies supply curve for pollution while the MB curve is societies demand curve. However the MB curve is not a demand curve for pollution bu a demand to keep the cost of reducing pollution down.”

    ….Too little pollution costs more to get rid of than it is worth and too much pollution is also harmful…

    The government can get firms to produce the optimal amount of pollution by imposing a tax equal to the cost or by restricting pollution through regulations.

    Regulations are not generally favored by economists because changing technology and tastes can make the regulated level to high or too low. However, given that the government is going to regulate….the most efficient method is to ….buy and sell the rights to pollute.”

  18. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: “Total costs = Pollution costs + pollution abatement costs”

    gee and here I thought there was supposed to be a cost – BENEFIT calculation.

    Let’s take something easy like DDT.

    DDT = less mosquitos = less disease = less west nile = no eagles

    so.. tell me again.. how ROI works… when we do pollution control…

  19. Anonymous Avatar

    Benefits count as negative costs, so they are included in the equation. If you want to find out how it works, go read the book.


  20. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I already know how it works and it does not work the way the books say it does because first of all they are advocating a theoretical approach but more importantly the approach that they advocate is not accepted by the folks who currently regulate pollution.

    I’ve taken economics… also and the one thing I learned was that there are as many theories as there are people who claim to be economists…

    How do you calculate the “costs” of wiping out eagles?

    Are you going to advocate that the “benefit” of pesticides exceeds the “costs” of wiping out the eagles – on a dollar basis?

    How do you calculate the “value” of a child’s life compared to the safety of a product?

    Hoe do you know that eagles are the only thing that is wiped out?

    How do you know what role eagles and other wiped out species play in the ecologic world? What if DDT also wipes out beneficial insects?

    A $25 car seat lacks the safety features of a $50 seat so you allow the $25 car seat to be sold?

    How do you calculate the cost of reducing kids IQ by .. between 1 and 3 points?

    How do you know how much mercury can be put into a river –

    Is it okay to contaminate catfish and carp but not smallmouth?

    It it okay for kids who eat mercury-contaminated fish to suffer decreases of IQ if it is only a “little bit”?

    I’m not saying that ROI is not important – it is.

    But you cannot determine pollution policy by ROI alone… because you simply cannot get the certitude you need to know precisely the cost/benefit tradeoffs.

    but I think you’re evading the issue in the first place – because none of this makes a bit of difference in terms of whether a property owner has an inherent “right” to pollute.

    Even if ROI was a bedrock principle – widely accepted, the process would not be .. to let the property owner who wants to pollute – determine the ROI and, in turn, decide that the ROI that they have calculated, “proves” that they can pollute.

    Are you not, in essence, advocating that the person who wants to pollute -also determine the ROI? Wouldn’t you think that such an arrangement might lead to “abuses” that tilted towards the interests of the polluters?

  21. Anonymous Avatar

    “Are you not, in essence, advocating that the person who wants to pollute -also determine the ROI”

    Absolutely not – and not the other way either.


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