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Congress Won't Be Carbon Neutral:

From the Washington Post:

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."

Fidelity (mail) (www):
Well that sucks. Not the only news about being Green in Washington, there was that large protest by "Capitol Climate Action" that the activists called "Direct Action". Barely civil disobedience if you ask me.
3.3.2009 6:57pm
FantasiaWHT:
(That's a great song by the way)

Ok, if people we're admitting that carbon offsets are "controversial" (pretty soon we'll convince nearly everyone that the proper word is "idiotic"), can we please consider carbon credits (in the cap and trade system) just as controversial/idiotic?

I mean, the very premise of them is idiotic - let's invent something out of the blue, force people to buy them, and make money out of it!
3.3.2009 7:05pm
davod (mail):
"The House paid $89,000 for offsets to cover the last session, in 2007 and 2008."

Who got the money?
3.3.2009 7:16pm
ChrisTS (mail):
The WaPo article, at least the first lines, strike me as misleading. The House is continuing to reduce its carbon footprint; all it has 'abandoned' is the use of a standard that is not, in fact, standardized.

The problem is the tool[s] for measuring success towards the aim, not the aim.
3.3.2009 7:16pm
ShelbyC:
Fess up. You posted this article just so you could use that last line, didn't ya?
3.3.2009 7:18pm
Steve:
And if you pay the offsets, the usual suspects trivialize them as "indulgences." Can't win either way, it seems.
3.3.2009 7:24pm
Gregory Conen (mail):
While not "indulgences", offsets have their problems. Very few of them are for immediate carbon capture, some of them are for projects that would happen anyway, and a few use dodgy numbers.

While the idea of lowering your carbon footprint is good, and the idea of donating to help others lower theirs is ok, the artificial offsets program is a silly technique to reach the silly goal of "carbon neutrality". Doing without emissions is impractical, and the carbon offsets the allow some people to lower their "emissions" doesn't change that.

It's doubly silly for congress, which could be doing any number of things to reduce carbon emissions by the normal legislative route.
3.3.2009 7:34pm
Fraggle Rock (mail):
"Who got the money?"

The Chicago Climate Exchange. Maurice Strong is on the board.

The CCX is famous for paying landfills to burn methane gas with flares...that they would have burned anyway without the payments.
3.3.2009 7:34pm
LarryA (mail) (www):
It's doubly silly for congress, which could be doing any number of things to reduce carbon emissions by the normal legislative route.
Like, "Motion to adjourn?"
3.3.2009 7:48pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
Who got the money?
Algore?
3.3.2009 7:52pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
While not "indulgences", offsets have their problems. Very few of them are for immediate carbon capture, some of them are for projects that would happen anyway, and a few use dodgy numbers.
You fail to explain why they aren't indulgences, and, indeed point out some of their problems.

I think that "indulgences" is an apt term, esp. when the scheme being peddled takes immediate credit for 100 years of tree growth, etc. Some of these schemes are clearly motivated by selling feeling good about one's environmental consciousness while continuing to "sin" without actually doing any real good.
3.3.2009 7:56pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
Hey, I would prefer the House buying indulgences in the form of carbon offsets over implementing a national cap and trade system where they can help the Administration sell off carbon allotments through the political process of lobbying, grafting, and rent seeking.
3.3.2009 7:58pm
Michael Ejercito (mail) (www):
Putting aside the BS about CO2 emissions, it is clear that coal plants emit soot and smoke, which is not green at all
3.3.2009 8:14pm
Donald (mail):
Wow. Zing. You really got 'em that time.
3.3.2009 9:11pm
Splunge:
Phoo, how about they give a shot at reducing their greenback footprint on my wallet? They can emit as much CO2 as pleases them if they stop emitting so much stupidhead law and financial perpetual motion machines that purport to create real economic value out of shuffling money fast enough from A to B.

Maybe I could buy Congress offsets? Like, I and some million others like me pay $x each, and Congress forbears to pass some 60-page addition to USC that nets out at a $x million hit to the economy? I would definitely double their salary if they would just go home and watch old Mr. Smith Goes To Washington reruns while slamming down the gin &tonics.
3.3.2009 10:34pm
MarkJ (mail):
The only "carbon footprints" I'd like to leave are the ones in Nancy Pelosi's and Harry Reid's pasty white a**es.
3.4.2009 12:01am
Richard A. (mail):
A little-known aspect is that the Capitol building actually has a plant that burns good, old-fashioned coal - not the "clean coal" Joe Biden despises, but the dirty stuff, because it keeps a few coal-state Congressmen happy.
3.4.2009 1:01am
Fat Man (mail) (www):
Congress could lower their carbon footprints by staying home, and they would less damage to the Republic.
3.4.2009 1:53am
Jeff Hall (www):
We are hiring a spokesman for the House's chief administrative officer?
3.4.2009 3:50am
Sam H (mail):
Gregory Conen posted:
"While the idea of lowering your carbon footprint is good..."

Why? C02 is estimated to be about 3% of the Greenhouse effect and humans produce less than 3% of that 3%. Besides, C02 helps plants and trees grow.
3.4.2009 6:56am
John Steele (mail):

"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. . . .
No the $^%&$#@$#^% House did not pay $89,000, the $#%$#^%$&^ TAXPAYERS paid $89,000 for NOTHINH.

My daughter had a terrific idea, we put a gigantic wind turbine up inside the Capitol dome --- all of the hot air rising from the House and Senate would generate enough electricity to power the Eastern half of the country.
3.4.2009 7:49am
wuzzagrunt (mail):
"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.


So the US Congress is stuck waiting around for some private sector business or not-for-profit to come up with a standard and an accreditation process? If not Congress, who? If not now, when?

I wonder if they fear exposing proponents of "carbon offsets" as the bunco artists they really are. Probably not a rock they want to turn over just now.
3.4.2009 9:03am
Houston Lawyer:
Why hasn't the FTC gone after the sellers of "carbon offsets" for an obvious fraud on the marketplace? Congress would be better off spending their money on Enzyte.
3.4.2009 9:53am
NickM (mail) (www):
They could start by reducing the carbon dioxide output of Congressmen. The Lucky Number Slevin approach has much to recommend it.

Nick
3.5.2009 4:04am

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