Washington Region: Hotbed of C02 Emissions

Listen up, Global Warming worriers, here’s a statistic to chill your hearts: The Washington region produces more carbon dioxide than several medium-size European countries, according to a new estimate of local carbon-dioxide emissions by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. In 2005 the region emitted 65.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide — more than Hungary, Finland, Sweden, Denmark or Switzerland, reports the Washington Post.

The study might have actually under-counted the region’s carbon footprint. Although it counts the emissions of three coal-burning power plants in the Maryland sub-region, it apparently does not adjust for the fact that the Northern Virginia sub-region imports most of its electricity, much of it from coal, from outside the region.

Even if you don’t accept the conventional wisdom that carbon dioxide emissions are propelling the world towards catastrophic climate change, there are still good reasons to find these numbers disturbing: They’re a good proxy for the energy intensity of the regional economy. Benchmarking against European economies shows how much potential there is to conserve energy, reeuce pollution and strip unnecessary costs out of the economy.

I don’t know if I’d want to model the Washington regional economy after Hungary or Lithuania, but Switzerland undeniably has one of the world’s highest standards of living. It might be worth taking a look at what those goat-herding, gun-toting watchmakers are up to.

(Hat tip to Larry Gross.)

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15 responses to “Washington Region: Hotbed of C02 Emissions”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    Switzerland also has among the highest total tax burdens.

  2. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    ….”That was more than in all of Hungary, Finland, Sweden, Denmark or Switzerland, each of which has more people.”

    but the article is all over the map…

    for instance: …”…
    Maryland suburbs produce more carbon dioxide than either the Virginia suburbs or the District. One major reason: It is home to three coal-burning power plants.”


    okay.. this causes a gazillion questions… such as…

    did the study take into account… the useage that caused the need for the power plants… no matter where they are located?

    .. then… talk about your location costs…. Maryland gets penalized for having their power plants “in region”.. and Virginia and DC get Kudos.. for _not_ having their power plants “in region”.

    but then comes the real zinger:

    …” The reason that greater Washington pollutes a great deal, scientists say, is that Americans in general pollute a great deal.”

    on a per capita basis – Americans don’t look so good.. and so .. is it a suprise.. that we don’t want to talk about our “share” of the restrictions and prefer to talk about the developing countries nubmers… but of course not their per capita numbers…

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    We’d be better off if we got DC area bureaucrats and lobbyists to take up goat herding and watchmaking.

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    Speaking of NoVA and Big government…


    County allows families earning $216,000 to live in taxpayer-subsidized housing: “I was among the needy, and this type of abuse is disgraceful”

    ANNANDALE, VA (September 30) –Mason District Republican nominee Vellie Dietrich-Hall today expressed “outrage” that Fairfax County bureaucrats have allowed families making as much as $216,000 a year to live in taxpayer-subsidized housing, with 1 in 10 residents of low-income housing earning more than the Fairfax County median income of $94,500.

    A Washington Post article this morning by journalist Amy Gardner revealed that hundreds of residents of public housing in Fairfax County make too much to be eligible, with some households earning as much as $216,000 a year. According to the Post, 25 residents of taxpayer-funded public housing earn more than $75,600 a year, and 11 households make more than $94,500.

    Asked about her department’s decision to continue underwriting the rent of a woman and her two sons, both college graduates with full-time jobs, who earn a combined $216,000, the director of the county’s Department of Housing and Community Development, Paula C. Sampson, speculated that “maybe it’s time for the boys to leave the nest and go off on their own.”

    The Post also found that more than a third of the households in the Fairfax rental program make more than half the median income, and more than 10 percent earn more than $75,600 a year. County records uncovered by the Post found that 28 households in the program make more than $94,500, with one family making $184,376 a year, another
    $145,349 and a third $140,962. The rental program makes apartments and townhouses available at below-market rates to 1,190 households, according to the Post.
    What the Post doesn’t talk about is the truly needy people who are turned away from public housing because Fairfax County bureaucrats choose to subsidize the rents of those whose biggest problem is how much to sock away a 401(k). When I came to this
    country, I was among those needy persons, and to me, this kind of abuse is especially disgraceful. While the bureaucrats underwrite the top 5 percent of wage-earners, Fairfax County police officers, firemen and teachers can’t afford to live in the communities they work. That’s not what taxpayers signed up for when they were asked by the Board of Supervisors to support affordable housing to the tune of $20 million a year.

    Vellie noted that Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors “dragged their feet for years” before imposing any income threshold for public housing, despite being permitted to do so by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

    “When the Board finally imposed an income ceiling on public housing last year, it set the threshold at a whopping $94,500“ hardly what anybody would consider “low income,” Vellie noted.
    The County’s housing bureaucrats seem to have chosen to turn their backs on massive abuses of the housing program, and taxpayers deserve to know if they had the support of the Board of Supervisors in doing so. There must be accountability for bureaucratic failures and neglect of taxpayer dollars, and the County Board of Supervisors and the bureaucrats at the Department of Housing and Community
    Development ought to be called to task for this.

    Vellie pledged that if she is elected Mason District Supervisor, she will introduce legislation to require participants to notify county officials when their incomes exceed the income ceiling, and to seek other housing arrangements when that happens. If they failed to do so, they should be required to repay the county for the amount of their subsidy and face possible criminal prosecution for fraud, she said.


  5. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    The problem with subsidized housing is that the threshold for the subsidy … _assumes_ that the recipient will not be “sharing” and/or “selling” the extra bedrooms.

    .. so you say.. WHAT extra bedrooms?

    my point exactly. You’ve got a mom who qualifies apparently for a subsidized housing rate .. for a unit that has multiple bedrooms …

    so you got this problem with all subsidized “affordable” housing… unless it has really strict rules about household income… and the number of bedrooms.

    and this is not restricted to subsidized housing either as I’m sure folks are well aware of the practice of somone getting a single family home.. and then essentially turning it into a boarding house.

    Now, the pro-development, pro-affordable housing folks will assert that all of this is caused by development restrictions – on GREENFIELD land… (as opposed to development restrictions on existing developed land – for redevelopment).

    Color me skeptical on the Greenfield land development restrictions.

    Fairfax .. _could_ offer incentives to developers to build small.. (spartan?) “workforce” housing… in appropriate areas…

    … though I suspect the “we’re already maxing our infrastructure” folks would object to this idea also.

    my point is.. I think there is or could be a market response to the affordable housing issue… and that by NOT doing this.. you end up with folks .. essentially gaming the system… to obtain more affordable housing – anyhow.


  6. Toomanytaxes Avatar

    Fairfax County is having problems because: 1) its spending is out of control; 2) it lacks sufficient management controls in this area; and 3) it does not have an inspector general. Gerry Connolly strongly opposed a proposal to create an IG’s office in the last (2003) election. Suffice to say that enough voters agreed with him. We may make quite a bit of money in Fairfax County, but that doesn’t make us smart in terms of public policy.

    I’m surprised that the Post investigated and wrote about such a mess right before an election. Fred Hiatt must have been on vacation.

    What is maddening is not just the cost to taxpayers, but the fact that there are many low-income people who would qualify for housing assistance, but are on waiting lists. Connolly’s approach has been to call for more tax money. First, we should give those subsidized tenants with income above the upper limit, a reasonable time to pack and move, opening the subsidized units to US citizens and lawful residents who qualify for housing assistance.

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    Not sure where the power plants in MD are located but I did notice a fair amount of SMOG over Hagerstown the other day while I was driving on I-70 from Frederick…..

    On another note, does it really matter the stuff comes from, at least in terms of some arbitrary government boundary?

    The pollution is there. Open your eyes….You can SEE it everywhere from the Shenandoah valley to Hagerstown…..I guess this must be the “sub-region”, right?

  8. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    USA today reports that Chevrolet will build the Volt in 2010.


    but here is the part that I think is .. potentially .. profound to all of us:

    “Unlike gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles, Volt’s engine never runs the car, only recharges the batteries.”

    .. because what this means is that it is “powered” by electricity – no matter the source of that electricity – either from onboard fuel or onboard batteries recharged from the grid and/or solar, etc.

    For instance… electric engines could be fueled by all ethanol fuel, or natural gas.. or even hydrogen… etc, et al. In areas with natural gas/propane.. you could fuel your car from your home.

    think about the implications of this for say.. cities with smog…

    ..or the gas tax…

    … or the EPA policy with regard to restrictions on new roads in cities that are now designated as “non-attainment” but may well overcome that status – with electric cars…


  9. Anonymous Avatar

    You still have to create the eletricity, and that means you have to burn something, somewhere, unless you use solar, and even then something is burning somewhere.

    Creating electircity has certain losses, but electic cars can use smaller engines that run more nearly at optimum RPM, so there is some savings there.

    Bottom line, a 4000 lb car takes x amont of energy to move. Energy mostly comes from combining oxygen and carbon, even if it is ethanol. Whatever the source of energy is, it is well known and available for taxation, if we choose to do it.


  10. Larry-

    Have you seen Who Killed the Electric Car yet? I haven’t tracked down a copy yet, but I’ve been told repeatedly that it’s excellent.


  11. Anonymous Avatar

    Despite the Tesla, a truly electric car is a big technical problem.

    On the other hand, my part electric hybrid is the best vehicle I have ever owned, bar none. With improving battery technology we may gradually shift more towards electric power. My Hybrid is 75 HP gas and 55 HP electric. I could easily se it shifting to 50 HP gas and 85 HP electric, over time, as battery technology improves.

    Have not read who killed the Electric Car yet, although I remember reading a review. Seriously doubt it was a conspiracy so much as a technical/financial problem.

    Remember the All Electric house? There was an idea that fizzled and sort of came back. Cars will come along when it works.


  12. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I have not read the book.. it’s on my list… but truthfully. I have yet to finish Guns, Steel and Germs (or whatever) and “Street Smart” (pretty dry).

    but it sounds like the electric car is a “go” this time because RH thinks it will work – and that is the true acid test. 🙂

    think about a place like NoVa where the air pollution of thousands of idlying cars stuck in gridlock .. goes away .. replaced by thousands of silent and quiet cars .. sitting in gridlock.. because the gas tax is totally broke… and (according to RH… the HOT lanes are also gridlocked)…

    hmmm… perhaps a book entitled “Who killed Personal Mobility?” 🙂

  13. Anonymous Avatar

    Recently, I was stuck in a traffic jam caused by an accident. As I sat there with my engine or idled along on electric power only while surrounded by hundreds of idling IC engines I was struck by the insanity of not having hybrids – at least.

    And this technology has been known for decades (although the microporcessors to make it work have not). But the real difference is that now it pays, and before it didn’t.


  14. Anonymous Avatar

    Oops, should read

    As I st with my engine off or moving slowly along on electric power only….

  15. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    the typical internal combusion engine car nor the SUV is going to go away anytime soon…

    on the other hand.. people who commute daily in urban areas is a huge and growing demographic..

    The claim is that a plug-in electric can be “fueled” for about a buck a gallon.

    Chevrolet (as well as other companies) claim that they will very shortly start producing plug-in electrics with ranges of 40 miles or so (about the average urban commute)…

    I can see a new emerging business model – outlets at parking lots/garages…

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