A Greener Future
Berkshire Eagle, Editorial
Monday, March 10 2008
It was little noted, but last month, EPA administrator Stephen Johnson acknowledged before a Senate committee both that global warming is "unequivocal" and that man-made emissions are largely responsible. Unfortunately, he did it in the context of arguing that California should not be allowed to pass stricter rules against vehicle emissions because that is the responsibility of the EPA — which refuses to act. Representative Peter Welch, a Vermont Democrat, declaring that the EPA is a "serial stonewaller," is fighting the agency on behalf of Vermont, California and other states, but it may take regime change to get the EPA to begin doing its job.
Happily, a solid record on environmental legislation is something that Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee John McCain have in common. Indeed, Senator McCain's willingness to work with Democrats on environmental issues is one reason why his party's far-right fringe is unhappy with him. The next president and Congress may actually be able to make some progress on global warming and other environmental issues.
Whatever Washington does or doesn't do, however, states and local communities will still need to do what they can to protect the environment from further harm. The Global Warming Solutions Act, which the Massachusetts Student Public Interest Group (MassPIRG) advocated for, with assistance from Pittsfield Democrat Benjamin Downing, requires Massachusetts to reduce greenhouse gas pollution 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. This would not only cut down on the emissions that fuel global warming it would help the state reduce its use of increasingly expensive foreign fossil fuels.
Last week, a state task force issued a report urging Massachusetts to encourage a biofuel industry. Among the worthy recommendations were exempting biofuels from the state gas tax and requiring all home heating fuels to contain a minimum amount of bio-based alternatives. Biofuels pollute less, make good use of forest and agricultural waste, and as the report noted, provide jobs. With Berkshire Biodiesel of Pittsfield gearing up, we hope Beacon Hill will follow up on the report with concrete action.
On a mountain north of Pittsfield, the wind turbine that is providing clean energy for Jiminy Peak has led to the creation of EOS Ventures, which will build turbines and sell the power. CEO Tyler Fairbank, who is partners with his father, Brian, and Joe O'Donnell, the owners of Jiminy, should find customers in government and business for a clean, sustainable private energy source. The desire to find a green way to provide power to Jiminy has led to the creation of a business that should prompt the development of wind power, a clean and underutilized source of energy.