The U.S. House of Representatives has abandoned a plan to make its offices "carbon neutral," a sign that Congress is wrestling with a pledge to become more green even as it crafts sweeping legislation on climate change.
The promise that the House would effectively reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero was a centerpiece of the Green the Capitol program in which the new Democratic leadership sought to use Capitol Hill as a kind of a national demonstration project.
But last week, a spokesman for the House's chief administrative officer said the chamber's leadership had dropped an essential part of the plan, the purchase of "carbon offsets" to cancel out emissions from its buildings. Offsets are a controversial commodity that promises that a certain amount of pollution was captured or avoided elsewhere.
"Right now, there is no plan to purchase more offsets," spokesman Jeff Ventura said. The House paid $89,000 for offsets to cover the last session, in 2007 and 2008. . . .
On Friday, Ventura issued a statement saying that carbon neutrality was no longer the House's goal.
"Although original 'carbon neutrality' targets were achieved [in the last Congress], we recognize a widely accepted standard for 'absolute neutrality' does not exist, nor is there any formal accreditation process to certify an organization is carbon neutral," Ventura said. "Therefore, the second phase of Green the Capitol will focus on the continued reduction of carbon and the saving of energy through operational improvements."
It seems Congress realized it's not so easy being "green."