Whether or not Washington will act on the growing global warming crisis remains to be seen. In the meantime, states and localities are taking steps on their own. As the Washington Post reported earlier this week, the city of Arlington, VA is poised to build on steps it already has taken to reduce its "carbon footprint":
Arlington County will buy more wind-generated electricity, give tax breaks for hybrid cars, require new public buildings to be green-certified and hand out energy-efficient light bulbs to residents as part of a major push toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions, county officials said yesterday.
The county has reduced carbon dioxide and other emissions -- making its buildings more energy-efficient and adding hybrid vehicles to its fleets -- by a total of 2.6 percent since 2000, but must now sharply increase its efforts in order to reach its goal of a 10 percent reduction in the next five years, Arlington County Board Chairman Paul Ferguson (D) said yesterday. [...]
Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said that such a comprehensive push to reduce emissions was unusual for the region and a first in Northern Virginia. Tidwell noted, however, that other jurisdictions are also making strides; Montgomery County already buys far more wind power than Arlington.
"It's a fantastic initiative that leads through example," said Tidwell, whose nonprofit organization tracks such efforts across the region.
The move comes at a time that many unlikely allies are rallying to the issue. Last month, James Rogers -- chief executive of Duke Energy, which services the Southeast -- declared his support for across-the-board tax on carbon emissions. Not all environmentalists are happy with their solution, though: building more nuclear power plants. As Jim Warren of the North Carolina environmental group NC WARN wrote last year [pdf]:
True, using the heat of nuclear fission to generate electricity produces no greenhouse gasses directly. But in building the power plant -- a major undertaking -- enormous amounts of fossil fuel would be used for producing and transporting concrete, metal and plastic components. They would cause toxic and greenhouse emissions during years of construction.
Researchers van Leeuwen & Smith and others estimate it could take nine to 25 years of plant operation just to break even with the energy going into nuclear plant construction, decommissioning and the multi-faceted, energy-intensive fuel cycle.
Another promising development: states looking to Renewable Energy portfolios, an issue discussed in December by Progressive States Network (here's audio of their press conference on the subject).