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Two Different Paths

Since the federal government in the United States has been met with its fair share of delays and inaction, the opportunities for individual communities to take action on conserving the environment and combating climate change have largely increased.

Cities and neighborhoods are able to bypass a lot of the red tape surrounding implementing “green” strategies and programs, which makes it much easier for small-scale success.

There are expected green cities, such as Portland, OR, which has excellent public transportation and an extensive network of bike trails; the city also offers financial incentives to homeowners and businesses which use solar energy; Boulder, CO, adopted the Kyoto Protocol (something which the U.S. federal government has not done), passed the country’s first carbon tax, and voted to buy out the local power plant to start a municipal utility with goals of ramping up wind and solar power generation.

There are also unexpected cities, such as Greensburg, KS, which turned the horrible devastation from an EF5 tornado into an opportunity to rebuild the city in an environmentally-friendly manner.

Regardless of the expectancy of a city or community to be “green”, there are many around the country doing what the federal government has been unable to do. Further, based on a quiet passage of legislation on Tuesday, it doesn’t appear the federal government is any closer to being “green.”

President Obama has signed into law a bill which requires U.S. airlines to be excluded from European carbon emission fees. The EU Emissions Trading System taxes carbon emissions on both domestic and foreign flights, and taxes the entire flight, not just the time spent in European air space.

Due to this aspect of the trading system, the Obama administration believes it is not the proper channel in which to combat rising emissions.

Earlier in November, the EU put the emission fees on hold for a year in an attempt to buy time for agreement on aviation emissions. The system works in a very similar manner to the cap-and-trade systems which have been debated for a couple years in the United States.

Thus, it isn’t surprising the emissions trading system was declined, since that idea doesn’t even pass when brought up domestically.

Unfortunately, it appears it will be more of the same for American emission regulation.

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