The Waxman-Markey climate change bill, passed by the House of Representatives in June, has been plagued with criticism from both the Left and the Right since its inception. Some say its greenhouse gas emissions targets aren't ambitious enough, others say they're too ambitious, and still others think that the whole thing should be left to the private sector. But what would happen if we actually followed through on Waxman-Markey's emissions requirements as they stand today? The Electric Power Research Institute, a non-profit consortium of electricity-generating companies, takes a look in a new report.
The results are humbling. In order to reduce CO2 emissions 42% from 2005 levels by 2030, we will have to build 45 new nuclear plants, put 100 million plug-in vehicles on the road, cut electricity consumption 8% through end-user efficiency, and increase renewable power generation fourfold compared to current levels. The EPRI also predicts that we will build 64,000 megawatts of nuclear power by 2030 and 135,000 megawatts of renewable power. In comparison, the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts just 12,500 megawatts of nuclear power and 60,000 megawatts of renewable electricity.
As ambitious as EPRI's goals and predictions are, they could reap major rewards for the U.S. economy. By deploying what it calls a "full portfolio" of technologies now, we could cut the cost of reducing emissions in the future by over $1 trillion.
So for those who would question Waxman-Markey's usefulness or suggest that it should be scrapped and rewritten with more ambitious goals, think about EPRI's projections. The energy industry needs a kick in the pants now, not one or two years from now. It's the only way to even begin to move towards a renewable energy economy.